“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide.

After asking myself, “Where can I go that is unusual, haunting and full of adventure?” Martvili Canyons was the first place that sprang to mind. So, let’s lose sight of the shore and discover Martvili Canyons together. What follows is a brief history of this natural wonder and some useful tips for visitors.

Martvili Canyons is located near the village of Gachedili, in the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region. Gachedili means ‘stuck’ in Georgian. Legend has it that, at the end of the 17th century, the head of Samegrelo invited some Greek leaders to build a beautiful brick bridge here. By doing this, both sides of the gorge were merged together and the gorge became ‘stuck’, hence the name.

The length of the canyon is 2,400 meters, and it’s between 20-40 meters wide. It is divided into two parts; the upper and lower canyons. The border between them is the beautiful Abasha, River.

It’s possible to hire a boat with a guide and travel through the upper canyon. They will lead you on an unforgettable journey, between stunning high rocks, for about 35-40 minutes. If you love picnics, then this part of the canyon is the best place to have one. Wooden tables and chairs are situated among the high rocks, and spectacular views among the trees are almost guaranteed.

The route ends with a view of a distant waterfall in the deepest part of the river canyon. On the return journey, you are once again able to view the picturesque gorge, take pictures and make sure you didn’t miss anything.

There is also a small footpath which will lead you to the so-called ‘Dadiani swimming pool’, a part of the river that looks like a pool.

As mentioned above, as well as the Upper Canyon there is also a Lower Canyon, which is accessible via a stone hiking trail.

The complete journey gives us the chance to experience both walking routes, (around 300-500m) and a boat trip. Both journeys are equally impressive.

The canyon is very beautiful and mysterious, hence why there is never any shortage of tourists. Prehistoric remains are quite numerous in this territory and the fossilized bones of animals that lived on Earth 75 million years ago have been found in the canyon.

One of the most incredible things visitors experience while traveling through the canyons is the fascinating colours of the rocks and vegetation. Vertical white cliffs, clean, clear water and luscious green vegetation all combine to create an awe-inspiring scene. Also, the canyon is characterized by a very pleasant climate and even on the hottest days of the year the canyon remains cool and an enjoyable retreat from the heat of the surrounding areas.

The Martvili Canyon was named one of “The 8 most beautiful places in Europe” by Scuba-Diving Edition magazine.

Despite being here for centuries, it is only recently that Martivili Canyon has started to become popular with tourists.

Transport:

The nearest town is Martvili.

Martvili is 280 km away from Tbilisi; Duration – 4 hrs;

Admission: 5 gel for adults, 3 gel for school children and students.

Boat trip: 10 gel per person.

Opening hours: from 10am to 6pm.

An overnight stay in Martvili is recommended, where various options are available including hotels and guesthouses.