• ADVENTURES IN RACHA

    WITH HOTEL FAMILY GALLERY, ONI

  • ADVENTURES IN RACHA

    GEORGIA

    Three people lie on the edge of the grassy cliff during magic hour at King Tamara Rocks in Racha, Georgia

“What are we even going to do in Racha?”

For once, I didn’t have an answer for Del. All I knew was that the Hotel Family Gallery in Oni came highly recommended, and we were in need of some serious pampering in the form of good food, wine, and cosy fires after three weeks of trekking in Svaneti.

I was still none the wiser after a hastily arranged stay organised via messenger and half-understood phone calls, my one bar of reception ensuring every other word was lost in the ether. But after hours of marshrutka and taxi journeys, stepping through the front gate to a welcome party of wide-smiled Temuri and Bombora the dog, I knew all would be well. I mean, how could a trip to Racha which starts with a dog carrying your tent to your room not end up a highlight of your Georgia travels?

The resident dog at Hotel Family Gallery in Oni, carrying a guest's tent up the garden path to the room.

You know you’ve come to a special place when the resident dog carries your things to the room



The resident dog at Hotel Family Gallery in Oni, carrying a guest's tent up the garden path to the room.

You know you’ve come to a special place when
the resident dog carries your things to the room



Temuri and Bombora led us up the narrow stone path, the ‘second’ house to our left, and wood stack adorned with tools and antiques to our right.

At the back of the garden we laid eyes on the ‘first house’, the family’s beautiful 200 year old wooden Oda home. This house once belonged to Temuri’s mother, in an altogether different location. That is the beauty of traditional Oda homes, structures that can be dismantled piece by piece, the wood numbered, transported, and reassembled elsewhere. This Oda house was moved 70 years ago from Tskhmori village, when Temuri’s mother was given land in Oni by the Soviet government. These days, it is home to a few characterful guest rooms and a balcony complete with antique wooden furniture and retro Soviet-era chairs.

The wooden balcony of the old oda house at Hotel Family Gallery in Oni, Racha

The wooden balcony of the Oda house



A retro Soviet-era chair covered with a patterned rug on the wooden balcony at Hotel Family Gallery in Oni, Racha

Retro Soviet-era chairs adding to the aesthetic appeal



The wooden balcony of the old oda house at Hotel Family Gallery in Oni, Racha

The wooden balcony of the Oda house


A retro Soviet-era chair covered with a patterned rug on the wooden balcony at Hotel Family Gallery in Oni, Racha

Retro Soviet-era chairs adding to the appeal



We carried on by the busy Oda house, past the men distilling chacha with old fashioned metal kettles, and up the stairs to our more recently built room, complete with hand-carved wooden balcony. Dusty backpacks dropped in our luxurious abode, we were whisked off to the dining room for lunch. Sitting on exquisitely sculpted traditional three-legged chairs, surrounded by artwork, fossils, and the odd bit of taxidermy, we devoured the best meal we’d had in weeks. Moreish Lori, smoked and cured Racha pork, prepared over 3 months in the smokehouse in the back garden. Ostri, a hearty beef and tomato stew. And thick lobio bean soup, the richest and most flavourful we’d tasted in our six months in Georgia so far (no doubt thanks to the addition of Racha ham).

Temuri appeared with a jug of homemade wine and a decanter of chacha, pulling up a chair to join us. Over toasts to our arrival, to Georgia, to Scotland, and anything else he could think of, we learned that all of the furniture and woodwork in and around the house was handmade by Temuri himself. The artwork adorning every inch of the walls is that of his wife, Elene, also the director of the local art school.

A bowl of 'lobio' (bean stew), on the wooden table at the Hotel Family Gallery in Oni, Racha.

Delicious lobio flavoured with Racha ham



The characterful dining room at Hotel Family Gallery, complete with traditional hand carved chairs and the owner's artwork.

The dining room, complete with Temuri’s hand carved chairs and Elene’s artwork



The characterful dining room at Hotel Family Gallery, complete with traditional hand carved chairs and the owner's artwork.

The dining room, complete with Temuri’s
hand carved chairs and Elene’s artwork


A bowl of 'lobio' (bean stew), on the wooden table at the Hotel Family Gallery in Oni, Racha.

Delicious lobio flavoured with Racha ham



Soon we were joined by Russo, a fellow guest visiting from Tbilisi. More wine was poured, toasts made, and comical stories told, Russo translating the finer details of Temuri’s tales. Every now and again, Nika (Temuri and Elene’s son), would pop his head round the door to check on our progress, keen to bundle us into his hardy Nissan Terrano and hit the road sooner rather than later for an afternoon of adventure.

With the jug of wine empty, we satisfactorily called lunch done. “Tomorrow morning yoga, and then we make wine!” declared Temuri. He has the kind of grin that makes it difficult to know at first if he’s joking or not.

“Do you have a head torch?” enquired Nika.

Actually, we both did as part of our camping kit. “Oh, and bring something warm as it’s cold in the cave”. We’d been in Oni less than two hours and the prospect of a relaxed few days by the fire was fast disappearing. Quite happily, I might add. Nika dished out welly boots to the three of us, plus an extra head torch for Russo (who, not surprisingly, hadn’t packed her own),  and we jumped in the family 4×4 and headed south, back towards Ambrolauri.

26 year-old Nika speaks excellent English, and his energy and enthusiasm seemingly knows no bounds. Turning off the tarmacked main road and heading eastward towards the mountains, I bombarded him and Russo with questions. Being in a new region that I knew little about, and having met very few English-speakers over the preceding 6 months, I was eager to learn and utterly relishing this time spent with new found friends. We discovered that, quite unbelievably, not only had Nika been to Scotland, but the places he had visited were Forres and Findhorn, just a few miles along the road from Del’s hometown of Elgin. A small world indeed.

“Your dad said we can make wine tomorrow, was he joking or can we really?” I asked Nika. “No, he wasn’t joking!” he exclaimed. “We have 1 tonne of grapes and we need to do it tomorrow”. As it turned out, Nika had driven 920 km the day before on a 20 hour round trip to Kakheti and back to collect the Saperavi grapes. He got back to Oni at 2am, slept for about 5 hours, then spent the morning helping his dad lay the concrete foundations of their new house. Yet still, here he was all smiles and enthusiasm, taking us three on our first adventure in Racha. Like I said, his energy knows no bounds.

We parked up by a forest trail, donned our wellies, and headed off through the trees and bushes towards a cave, not easily found on any map but known to locals like Nika.

Three people in walking along a forested stream towards a cave in the mountains of Racha.

Heading for the cave, we walked through and alongside a lovely little stream



Golden leaves reflected in a stream in the mountains of Racha.

Autumn leaves reflected in the stream



Three people in walking along a forested stream towards a cave in the mountains of Racha.

Heading for the cave, walking through
and alongside a lovely little stream


Golden leaves reflected in a stream in the mountains of Racha.

Autumn leaves reflected in the stream



Wading through the shallow water at the entrance, the bright light of the autumn afternoon soon faded, becoming pitch black. Bats clung to the cave walls, deep in sleep. Weird and wonderful formations appeared here and there, stalagmites, tites, and nates illuminated by the glow of our head torches alone. After an hour or so of exploring, we returned to the car and set off towards King Tamara Rocks, a plateau sitting high above the valley floor and the perfect spot to enjoy sunset.

Three people walking into the dark opening of a cave in Racha, Georgia.

Three people inside a dark cave deep within the mountains of Racha, the scene lit up by a powerful head torch.

A bat hangs from the rock wall of a cave in Racha.

Three people walking into the dark opening of a cave in Racha, Georgia.

Darkness awaits as we enter the cave


Three people inside a dark cave deep within the mountains of Racha, the scene lit up by a powerful head torch.

We were glad of Nika’s powerful head torch


A bat hangs from the rock wall of a cave in Racha.

One of many bats getting some shut-eye



As we bumped along the rough track, Nika rattled off the names and heights of peaks and villages faster than I could wrap my ears around these unfamiliar Georgian words. But one that did ring a bell was Shkmeri. “Hang on, isn’t that a chicken dish with garlic?” I enquired. “Yes! Shkmeruli, it comes from this village” replied Nika. As the legend goes, a lord visited a family in the village and requested some food. The family had nothing but an old chicken, and embarrassed to serve such a meal, covered it in garlic sauce in the hope that the lord wouldn’t notice how bad the chicken was. And with that, I renamed the small settlements ‘Chicken Villages’, and I hope the name sticks.

Up top, the wind was biting cold but it couldn’t deter our enthusiasm. The views were spectacular, and Nika knew all the best spots from where to enjoy them. Shkhara, the highest mountain in Georgia, peeked its peak out of the clouds in the distance. It was strange to think we’d been gazing at it out of our guesthouse window in Ushguli just two days before. As we lay on our bellies, peering over the cliff’s edge to the golden hued valley below, Oni stretched out before us.

Caucasus mountain views from King Tamara Rocks in Racha, Georgia

Two people looking out towards the mountains of Racha from their vantage point atop King Tamara Rocks.

Sunset diffused and viewed through the windscreen of a 4x4 in the mountains of Racha, Georgia.

Caucasus mountain views from King Tamara Rocks in Racha, Georgia

Mountain views from King Tamara Rocks


Two people and a 4x4 amidst the long grass at sunset on top of King Tamara Rocks in Racha, Georgia

Magic hour glow in full effect


Two people looking out towards the mountains of Racha from their vantage point atop King Tamara Rocks.

Looking out over the edge


Sunset diffused and viewed through the windscreen of a 4x4 in the mountains of Racha, Georgia.

Watching sunset before heading home



It was already dark when we got home and Lia, the fabulous cook at Hotel Family Gallery, immediately laid out another feast for us to enjoy. The fire crackled away, Bombora dutifully delivering logs whenever we ran low. More wine flowed, and we chatted fire-side long into the night.

Having not had much in the way of alcohol for a few weeks, our heads were a bit fuzzy in the morning.

Del, who had been enjoying a tipple of homemade chacha here and there on top of the wine, was feeling particularly delicate. But today we had our own wine to make! Pancakes, matsoni, frittata, and a double helping of coffee did the best it could to sort him out. I was secretly thankful we’d missed the morning yoga session, but was raring to go on the winemaking front.

Wednesday in Oni is the weekly market day. So, while Nika, Temuri, and Laila prepared all of the equipment, we headed off to the market with Elene. Villagers from all around the region descend on Oni for the morning, selling their produce alongside stalls of second-hand clothes, household goods, shoes, and anything else one might need. I snapped up a retro faux-sheepskin jacket, convincing myself it was essential for winter in Tbilisi and ignoring the fact that I’d likely have to carry it for 5 days through Borjomi NP on our upcoming hike.

An elderly man peruses the produce at a well stocked fruit and veg stall in the weekly Oni market in Upper Racha.

Well stocked fruit and veg stalls at the weekly market



Two stall holders sit behind their goods in the indoor hall ath the weekly market in Oni, Racha

The atmospheric main indoor market hall



An elderly man peruses the produce at a well stocked fruit and veg stall in the weekly Oni market in Upper Racha.

Well stocked fruit and veg stalls at the market


Two stall holders sit behind their goods in the indoor hall ath the weekly market in Oni, Racha

The atmospheric indoor market hall



Back at the house, the winemaking was already under way.

The old-fashioned basket press was set up in the small courtyard right below our room, while one tonne of grapes sat in bags in the back of a transit van parked up nearby, the smell wafting through the garden. Every one of them had to be pressed by hand today, quite the task!

A father and son prepare the traditional wooden basket press for making wine in Racha, Georgia.

Nika and Temuri assembling the press



One tonne of grapes for winemaking in the back of a transit van, parked in the grounds of Hotel Family Gallery in Oni, Racha.

An awful lot of grapes for one small basket press



A father and son prepare the traditional wooden basket press for making wine in Racha, Georgia.

Nika and Temuri assembling the press


One tonne of grapes for winemaking in the back of a transit van, parked in the grounds of Hotel Family Gallery in Oni, Racha.

An lot of grapes for one small basket press



I swapped places with Temuri, and Nika showed me the ropes. First, we put the grapes into a funnel, winding a handle which turned the mangle below. The grapes passed through the mangle, into the wooden barrel basket underneath. The juice of the grapes collected in a cast iron ‘moat’ surrounding the bottom of the basket, flowing through a lip into a huge pot below. The more grapes we added, the more chacha (discarded skins, seeds, and stalks) built up in the wooden basket, eventually filling it completely.

Bombora, the dog at Hotel Family Gallery in Oni (Racha), sits on the ground with some fallen apples in the foreground.

What’s all the fuss? Bombora is just too dignified to take much notice of the excitement



Bombora, the dog at Hotel Family Gallery in Oni (Racha), sits on the ground with some fallen apples in the foreground.

What’s the fuss? Bombora is too dignified
to take much notice of all the excitement



At this point, it was time for us to press the chacha with a vice-like contraption, squeezing out every last drop of juice left. The delightfully pinkish-purple liquid was then poured into a 220 litre plastic barrel. About 20 kg of previously collected chacha was added too, a common step in the Georgian wine making process. This chacha would be removed after five days, leaving the wine to ferment for about one month before being transferred to clay qvevri, buried underground in the adjacent oda house. Scooping the fresh chacha out of the basket, we added it to a different 220 litre barrel, ready to be distilled later into drinking chacha. With the winepress basket now empty, we started the process again.

Two women empty a big bag of Saperavi grapes into a large metal funnel, part of the winemaking process.

Grape juice stained hands of the winemaker setting the press during the winemaking process in Racha, Georgia.


A metal bucket full of chacha (the discarded grape skins, seeds, and stalks), to be later used in the wine and spirit making process.

Two women empty a big bag of Saperavi grapes into a large metal funnel, part of the winemaking process.

Emptying the grapes into the metal funnel


Grape juice stained hands of the winemaker setting the press during the winemaking process in Racha, Georgia.

Fixing the vice to the press to squash the grapes


The grape juice drips into a pot below


A metal bucket full of chacha (the discarded grape skins, seeds, and stalks), to be later used in the wine and spirit making process.

The chacha (discarded skins, seeds, and stalks),
kept to be later distilled into drinking chacha



With the help of Russo and Laila we got through all but nine sacks of grapes before being called away for another feast. After lunch, as if the market and winemaking hadn’t been excitement enough, we headed out on another road trip, to Shovi this time, lying at the far end of Upper Racha. This heavily forested region was a popular retreat during Soviet times, the clean air and numerous mineral springs believed to have a purifying effect on all those who visited. Today, there’s not a whole lot to see and do in Shovi itself.

The place was on our radar because it’s the starting point for a strenuous hike to Udziro Lake at 2800 m. But in early October, the prospect of camping by the lake in temperatures well below freezing wasn’t too appealing, so we’d decided to save it for another time.

One thing Shovi does have going for it though is beautiful old houses, something I’m always interested in. First off, we pulled up at ‘Stalin’s Dacha’, a misleading name given that Stalin most likely never set foot there. The magnificent house was built in 1926, by a doctor returning from Europe with European notions of design, according to Nika. It was a grand resort in its heyday, but lies in a terrible state of decay these days, completely looted in the post-Soviet years. The nearby Stalin statue with a missing nose that Nika remembers from his childhood is also gone, but probably for different reasons.

A grand old abandoned house that is often refered to as 'Stalin's Dacha', in Shovi, Upper Racha.

Outside, the old house still manages to convey a sense of grandeur



Inside the shell of 'Stalin's Dacha' in Shovi, Upper Racha, looking out through empty window frames.

Inside, it’s more apparent the building is nothing more than a shell



A grand old abandoned house that is often refered to as 'Stalin's Dacha', in Shovi, Upper Racha.

Outside, the old house still manages
to convey a sense of faded grandeur


Inside the shell of 'Stalin's Dacha' in Shovi, Upper Racha, looking out through empty window frames.

Inside, it’s much more apparent that the
building is nothing more than a shell



A little further up the main road, another abandoned home sits wasting away in its verdant grounds. This beautiful house, with wood carved balconies, once operated as a rehabilitation centre for Russian soldiers wounded in Vietnam. It has an altogether ‘accidentally Wes Anderson’ feel to it.

A large abandoned building that was once a rehabilitation home for Russian war veterans, sitting in front of the forest in Shovi, Upper Racha.

An old rehabilitation centre for Russian war veterans, now empty and abandoned



A large abandoned building that was once a rehabilitation home for Russian war veterans, sitting in front of the forest in Shovi, Upper Racha.

An old rehabilitation centre for Russian
war veterans, now empty and abandoned



That evening, the grape harvest fun continued with a churchkhela making session in the kitchen.

Lia boiled up the freshly pressed Saperavi grape juice in a pot on top of the woodfired stove, until it was lightly bubbling and thicker in consistency. I dunked strings of walnuts, apples, and grapes into the pot, the glorious purple goo dripping off the fruit and nuts as I gently pulled them free. Hung up to dry by the fire, they looked quite the thing.

Apples and nuts hanging from string, ready for making Churchkhela at the Hotel Family Gallery in Oni, Racha.

Small apples and strings of nuts, hanging in preparation



Grapes dipped in hot pelamushi (boiled, viscous grape juice) to make Churchkhela at the Hotel Family Gallery in Oni, Racha.

A clump of grapes, freshly dipped in the hot pelamushi



Apples and nuts hanging from string, ready for making Churchkhela at the Hotel Family Gallery in Oni, Racha.

Apples and strings of nuts, hanging in preparation


Grapes dipped in hot pelamushi (boiled, viscous grape juice) to make Churchkhela at the Hotel Family Gallery in Oni, Racha.

A clump of grapes, freshly dipped in hot pelamushi



By day three of our stay in Oni, our adventure team was a woman down.

With Russo heading back to Tbilisi, we figured we might just have a quiet one, wandering the town, visiting the synagogue, and relaxing in the garden. But, about to head out the gate in the late morning, we were greeted by Nika. “My mother and I are going to Ambrolauri then we will drive to the top of a mountain village. Do you want to come?”. By this point I’d learnt to say yes to anything Nika suggested, without hesitation. “Great,” he said, “I’ll ask Lia to pack some food”.

Our afternoon exploits started with a trip to the local Art School to pick up Elene, complete with a tour of the classrooms and Temuri’s woodworking studio. After running some errands in Ambrolauri, the regional capital, we were on our way up a bumpy forested track to a grassy mountain ridge. Climbing a few hundred metres, we could feel the chill in the air. Good thing I’d learnt to pack warm clothes no matter how nice the weather in Oni.

Elene was keen to find some pagan ruins she’d been told about, but after a couple of failed attempts rummaging around in the overgrown forest we gave up and kept driving towards our picnic spot. From the top of Khikhamta Ridge, we had spectacular views laid out before us. Nika drove us straight to a makeshift wooden picnic bench, but the wind had other ideas about our al fresco lunch plans. Fine, a picnic in the car it would be! I grabbed the wicker basket out of the boot and we tucked into Lia’s scrumptious roast chicken, lobiani, cheese, and bread, all washed down with some homemade wine.

A wicker lunch hamper placed between the driver's and passenger's seats in a Nissan Terrano 4x4.

The perfect lunch hamper



A view of Mravaldzali village over windswept long grass from Khikhamta Ridge in Racha, Georgia.

The view towards Mravaldzali village from our windswept lunch spot



A view of Mravaldzali village over windswept long grass from Khikhamta Ridge in Racha, Georgia.

The view towards Mravaldzali village from
our windswept lunch spot on Khikhamta Ridge


A wicker lunch hamper placed between the driver's and passenger's seats in a Nissan Terrano 4x4.

The perfect lunch hamper



With our late lunch devoured and a few toasts complete, we continued off-roading along the ridge. The magic hour glow was starting to appear, turning the rolling hills golden. Racha is famed for its autumn colours, yellow and red leaves bursting from the hillsides all around. We were a few days too early to catch it at its vibrant best, but no matter. It just made us appreciate those singular flaming beauties all the more.

Trees turning golden on the rolling hills of Racha, Georgia.

Autumn colours starting to appear high in the hills of Racha



Trees turning golden on the rolling hills of Racha, Georgia.

Autumn colours appearing in the hills of Racha



Suddenly, Nika stopped the car and out jumped Elene. Did we hit something? Did we burst a tire? “She has seen a rock she likes”, explained Nika. Before we knew it, the back door was swung open and Elene was dumping massive clumps of limestone into the boot, a satisfied grin on her face. “Beautiful!”, she declared. This must have been a good find, because before long Nika was hacking away at the embankment with an axe (which he just happened to have in the car), while more and more rocks piled up in the boot. Inspecting them up close, they were indeed quite beautiful, and given the number of fossils, crystals, and other natural wonders proudly displayed in the family home, I wasn’t overly surprised by this humorous behaviour. Delighted with her newfound bounty, Elene jumped back in the front seat and we continued on our way.

A mother and son collecting rocks from an embankment while parked on a mountain track in Racha, Georgia.

Mother and son working in tandem



Chunks of limestone in the back of a Nissan Terrano in Racha, Georgia.

‘Beautiful’ big chunks of rock for home



A mother and son collecting rocks from an embankment while parked on a mountain track in Racha, Georgia.

Mother and son working in tandem



Chunks of limestone in the back of a Nissan Terrano in Racha, Georgia.

‘Beautiful’ big chunks of rock for home



It wasn’t long until our next stop. This time, a discarded bundle of hay by the side of the road caused Nika to slam on the breaks and reverse back. Mother and son were out of their seats in a flash, breaking off chunks so that they could squeeze it into the back. “That’ll feed our 60 rabbits”, explained Nika. Rabbits? I hadn’t even noticed one let alone 60! The boot overflowing with rocks and hay, we were laughing for the next five minutes.

Hay stuffed in the back of a Nissan Terrano in Racha, Georgia.

The back of the Nissan Terrano full of rocks and hay



A sprig of rosehip bush with bright red berries, held by a hand inside a vehicle.

Rosehips collected along the way



Hay stuffed in the back of a Nissan Terrano in Racha, Georgia.

The Nissan Terrano full of rocks and hay


A sprig of rosehip bush with bright red berries, held by a hand inside a vehicle.

Rosehips collected along the way



A little further on… “Don’t you want to go over there and take a look?”, by which Nika really meant, “I think we should drive even more off-road and go check out that cool spot over there”. So we did, turning off the dirt track and onto the hillside, weaving around giant crater-like holes created by sinking limestone. Shaori Reservoir shimmered in the distance, and golden grass swayed back and forth all around as we wandered across the plateau. “Modi, modi!” Elene called, beckoning us over to a wild blueberry bush she had found. All four of us gorged on the sour treats, admiring the colourful ensemble of red rowan berries and rosehip growing next to the purple leaved bush. A branch of each was coming home too, another splash of colour to be added to the cosy dining room.

Two people watch something in the distance from outside a parked 4x4 vehicle in the hills of Racha, Georgia.

We were more than happy to follow anywhere Nika and his trusty vehicle led



Two people watch something in the distance from outside a parked 4x4 vehicle in the hills of Racha, Georgia.

We were more than happy to follow
anywhere Nika and his trusty vehicle led



Back on the rough track, we worked our way down towards Mravaldzali village, not before stopping to rescue yet another solitary bundle of hay. The potato harvest was underway, and we paused so Nika could chat to a local farmer for a while. “Do you know him?” I asked. “Yes, of course. Everybody knows everybody around here”, Nika replied.

It was nearing 6:30 pm and the sky was ablaze with a fiery orange glow and petrol blue storm clouds. We could see a sheet of rain falling over a layer of mountains in the distance. We were quite delighted with the views, but once again, Nika had different ideas. “Don’t you want to drive up to the top of the mountain to see the sunset?”, he suggestively asked. Off we trundled, rolling over rocks and maneuvering awkwardly along overgrown tracks all the way up to the communication masts up top. We caught the last of the sunset, a burning ball dipping down below heavy clouds. Hues of soft pinks hung in the air, layers upon layers of mountains in shades of dark blue stretching out before us like a painting.

  • Dark clouds, a fiery orange sky, and multiple mountain layers in Racha, Georgia.
  • Dark clouds, a fiery orange sky, and multiple mountain layers in Racha, Georgia.

Mountain layers and fiery orange sky



Content with yet another glorious Racha sunset, we returned down the track in fast encroaching darkness. A cosy fire, jug of wine, and warming bowl of meatball soup awaited us back in Oni. And for dessert, pelamushi, the now firm jelly-like grape juice we had boiled up to make churchkhela the day before. The delights of the grape harvest never end!

The fire roaring in the dining room fireplace at Hotel Family Gallery in Oni, Racha, Georgia.

The warm and welcome fireplace



A rosehip cutting in a metal urn in the Hotel Family Gallery dining room, Racha.

Elene’s rosehips the next day



The fire roaring in the dining room fireplace at Hotel Family Gallery in Oni, Racha, Georgia.

The warm and welcome fireplace


A rosehip cutting in a metal urn in the Hotel Family Gallery dining room, Racha.

Elene’s rosehips the next day



The following morning our time to say farewell had arrived.

We left with full bellies, big smiles, and a hand-turned honey spoon gifted to us by Temuri. But of course, with many more adventures in Racha to be had and our very own handmade wine to sample, plans for a return in the near future are already fermenting away.

PLAN YOUR TRIP TO RACHA

BOOK YOUR STAY AT HOTEL FAMILY GALLERY

You can book here, paying for meals on arrival. Alternatively, call Hotel Family Gallery on +995599231722, or message them on Facebook. Temuri and Elene speak Georgian and Russian. Their son, Nika, speaks Georgian and English.

HOW TO GET TO ONI

Marshrutka

You can get to Oni by marshrutka from Didube Station in Tbilisi (41.7495, 44.7786 ). It leaves around 8 am, costs 20-25 GEL, and takes 5-6 hours.

The morning marshrutka from Kutaisi departs at 9 am from Jachvis Khidi (Chain Bridge) (42.2747, 42.7035), costing 15-20 GEL and taking 4-5 hours. The afternoon marshrutka from Kutaisi departs at 3:30pm from the main bus station at Chavchavadze (42.2562, 42.6710), costing 20-25 GEL and taking 3-4 hours.

By Car

You can book a private car and driver, making as many stops as you like along the way, through gotrip.ge. This is likely to cost around 170-180 GEL for the car from Tbilisi, or around 100-110 GEL from Kutaisi.

By Flight

Vanilla Sky operate flights on Friday and Sunday between Natakhtari (around 40 minutes north of Tbilisi) and Ambrolauri (around 30 minutes south of Oni). Tickets cost 50 GEL one way. A taxi from Ambrolauri to Oni is around 30 GEL.

ORGANISE YOUR TRIP TO GEORGIA


Booking.com

*Some of the links in this post are affiliate links – if you purchase a product or service via these links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps offset the cost of running this blog and keeps us travelling so that we can continue to produce great content for you. We greatly appreciate your support!*

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