Day trips from Batumi: Mtirala NP
Batumi is best known as a beach holiday destination, but the surrounding Adjara Mountains offer possibilities for much more than sunbathing and city tours. There are two national parks very close to Batumi, with some hiking trails on the forested hills above river valleys. There are organized tours available, but it’s also fully possible to arrange day trips by yourself, using public transportation or a rental car. In this post we introduce Mtirala National Park and provide information on how to get there from Batumi.
Mtirala National Park
Mtirala is situated roughly 30 km northeast from Batumi, in southwestern Georgia, near the coast of the Black Sea. The National Park was established in 2007, to protect the environment of the area, and to develop ecotourism. Mtirala area is very rainy, with annual rainfall of 4 520 millimeters, which means that the zone is very green and lush. The name of the park and the nearby mountain, Mtirala, translates to crying or weeping. Mtirala area is very rich in flora, and home to some big mammals like boars, foxes and even brown bears. There are several small streams flowing down from the hills to Chakvistskali River, that runs through the tiny village by the same name.
Places of interest in Mtirala
Chakvistskali village is home to the national park visitor center, a few guesthouses, small shops selling local products like honey, and some restaurants. In the village you will also find a charming old mechanical cable car that takes you over the Chakvistskali River against a small fee (2 GEL / 0,7 € in October 2018). Probably the most popular sight in Mtirala National Park is Tsalbnari waterfall. This 16 meters high waterfall is surrounded by lush green vegetation. Even more beautiful sight is the small, turquoise lake by the trail that leads to the waterfall. Close to the village and the river you can also find a zipline, that is popular during summer, but wasn’t in operation in October.
Hiking in Mtirala National Park
There are two marked, circular hiking trails in Mtirala. Starting point for both trails is the visitor center, but you can also start from the Chakvistskali village. The shorter loop, called Tsalbnari, is roughly 7 kilometers in length, and runs first along the Chakvistskali River, then past the lake and to the Tsalbnari waterfall. It’s an easy hike, but good walking shoes are recommended as the path can be quite slippery and there are some small streams to cross.
The longer loop is roughly 16 kilometers in length, and partly follows the shorter loop close to the waterfall. After the crossroads this trail, called Tvistskaro, leads through lush forests and up to the hills to a cabin that serves as a tourist shelter. In national park information leaflets it’s recommended to do this hike in two days, staying the night in the shelter or camping, but it’s also doable during one day. The path is clear and nice all the way to the shelter, but the shorter back loop after that was overgrown and pretty difficult to follow at times. We had to fight through thick vegetation and over huge fallen trees, which slowed our pace down. When we finally got back to the main trail, we were all covered with spider webs and scratches from the prickles of the bushes. So, it might be a good idea to skip this part of the trail.
The best time to hike in Mtirala National Park is during summer months. Information about the park and a trail map can be found from the visitor center, and also from Batumi tourist information office. Especially for the longer trail, take care that you have enough water and some food with you, as well as a first aid kit and some waterproof clothing and a cap. Swimming is allowed in the lake, and during hot and humid summer months it surely is a great way to refresh yourself.
Related post: Daytrips from Batumi: Machakhela Valley
How to get to Mtirala
The reach Mtirala National from Batumi, head northeast along the coast to Chakvi village, and from there another 15 kilometers to Chakvistavi. The easiest way to get there is by your own wheels, but there are also public minibuses, leaving from Batumi old bus station at least on Monday and Friday mornings, and heading back in the evening. The price for a minibus ride is 3 GEL, so roughly 1 € (October 2018). Chakvi is better connected with Batumi, and one option is to take a minibus there, and continue the remaining 15 km to Chakvistavi by a taxi. During summer months it’s also possible to participate in organized tours from Batumi. For information on bus schedules and tours, and to collect some leaflets with maps, visit Batumi tourist information office.
Staying overnight Mtirala
If you’d like to stay overnight in the park, it’s possible either in one of the guesthouses in Chakvistavi, in the guestrooms of the visitor center, in the tourist shelter along the trail (roughly 9 km away from the village), or camping in the park. Camping equipment can be renter from the visitor center, and that is also the contact point for renting the tourist shelter.
Mtirala National Park is a nice destination for either a day visit from Batumi, or if time is not an issue, for a bit longer stay. The nature in the park is overwhelmingly lush and green, and hiking trails enable fully enjoying the unusual flora and fauna of the park. You might also get hiking company from the dogs of the village; we had two cute dogs following us the whole day.