Martvili Canyon - Excursion to the most beautiful Canyon in Georgia

Martvili Canyon Georgien
Martvili Canyon - Excursion to the most beautiful Canyon in Georgia

Georgia. North of the village of Martvili, the water has carved a narrow canyon into the limestone. The steep, densely vegetated slopes and the winding, turquoise river are reminiscent of a fairytale world. Let yourself be enchanted and read here some practical tips for your trip to the Martvili Canyon in Georgia.

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Martvili Canyon in Georgien
Martvili Canyon looks like a fairy tale world.

Tip: Are you traveling with a four-wheel camper or, like us, with Lada Niva and roof tent? Then I have a tip for a great place for the night near the Martvili Canyon at the end of the article.

Walk on historical Paths

In the 19th century the princely family Dadiani had discovered the Martvili Canyon in Georgia for themselves. They laid out a walking path along the river. Already at that time the path led over several limestone stairs and two small bridges to several viewpoints. This historic path has now been made into a walking trail about 700 meters long and starts directly at the visitor center.

Historic paths and stairs lead along the river.

The path runs parallel to the river through a shady forest. The slopes are lush with trees, bushes and ferns. The moisture allows lichens and mosses to thrive on the trees and everything is lush and green. A welcome change on the sunny and rather dusty day. Again and again we stop and soak up the beauty of Martvili Canyon. I was amazed at how different it is from the nearby Okatse Canyon, which we had visited in the morning. If you have the time, I would recommend you to just visit both canyons.

Aussichtsplattform im Martvili Canyon in Georgien
One of the viewing platforms at Martvili Canyon.

You can get to several viewing platforms via historic limestone stairs and two small bridges. At the end of the path is the largest platform with the best view. From here you look directly into the narrow canyon with its winding rock walls.

Fluß Abasha im Martvili Canyon in Georgien
View from the rearmost observation deck into the canyon.
Unfortunately, swimming is forbidden here, no matter how tempting it is.
Around the river the shore is densely overgrown.

You are planning a road trip?

Travel Guide Book – Georgia – Caucasus*

Dieses Buch von OunTravela lädt euch ein, die wildesten Ecken Georgiens zu erkunden. Entlang von 24 Routen werdet ihr selbst zu Entdeckern von malerischen Landschaften, rauhen Bergwelten sowie von Klöstern, Festungen und jahrhundertealten Wehrtürmen. Neben detailierten Beschreibungen der 4×4-Tracks findet ihr in diesem Buch eine Vielzahl weiterführender Informationen über Land und Leute sowie Tipps für eure Planungen. Letztere reichen von Vorschlägen für Stellplätze für die Nacht über Vermieter von expeditionsfertigen 4×4-Fahrzeugen bis hin zu lohnenswerten Fotospots. Zu dem Buch könnt ihr außerdem eine Karte sowie die GPS-Tracks zur Navigation erwerben.

Boat Ride over the turquoise Waters of Martvili Canyon

In the past, Martvili Canyon was the bathing place of the Dadianis. How great it must have been to refresh oneself in the clear turquoise green water. However, due to accidents, bathing in the canyon is forbidden today.

On a boat tour, however, you can get almost as close to the waters of the Abasha River. The perspective from the water surface to the steep 40 to 70 meter high walls of the canyon is hard to beat.

Boot im Martvili Canyon in Georgien
You should not miss a boat ride on the small river.

After our walk to the viewing platform, we return the same way and continue a little further to the boat dock. There, we are equipped with life jackets, get a paddle in the hand and one minute later, we sit in a yellow rubber boat with captain. Bootsanleger. Wir werden mit Schwimmwesten ausgerüstet, bekommen ein Paddel in die Hand gedrückt und schon sitzen wir in einem gelben Gummiboot mit Kapitän.

Bootsanleger im Martvili Canyon in Georgien
The yellow rubber boats are still waiting for guests. Because of Covid, there were not so many visitors here in the summer of 2021 and there was no waiting time for us.

We were lucky and got a boat with skipper for us alone (maybe because of Covid). A total of six people would fit inside. To see well then, you would have to fight for the front seat first.

A rubber boat can accommodate up to six people.

During the boat tour, we tried to paddle along diligently. But I was so distracted by the natural beauty around us that I mostly put the paddle down again after three paddles and grabbed the camera. Fortunately, our captain was patient and probably did better without our interference anyway.

How to get Martvili Canyon in Georgia?

From Kutaisi, Martvili Canyon is just a stone's throw away. With your own car you will reach the visitor center after about one hour drive (47 km) from Kutaissi. It is a perfect stopover if you are on your way to Svanetia.

If you don't have a car, you can also book a day tour to Martvili Canyon from Kutaisi* . This is available in combination with Okatse Canyon and the popular Prometheus Cave, which alone are worth a visit.

Arriving at the parking lot, we were a bit disoriented at first. The visitor center is not immediately visible, instead there are a lot of providers for rafting tours. Since we only wanted to do the simple short boat ride at the bottom of the canyon, we walked past the other tour providers and the numerous souvenir stands and restaurants. Then, at the end of the trail, one can't miss the visitor center.

Around every corner you will discover new great views.

Tip: Check the weather forecast before visiting. In case of rain and snow, the boat tours will not take place.

Opening hours: daily from 10 am to 7 pm.
Entrance fee: for adults 17,25 GEL
Boat tour: 15 GEL
Location: At Inchkhuri village, 5 kilometers north of Martvili in Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region.

Dichter Bewuchs im Martvili Canyon in Georgien
By the way, Martvili Canyon is also known as Gochkadili Canyon.

What else is there in the Area?

Martvili Canyon is well signposted and is the biggest tourist attraction in the area. Not far from the canyon there is also the Martvili Monastery and the Martvili-Chkondidi Cathedral. However, since we were more interested in nature and largely stayed away from interiors due to exploding covid numbers, we did not visit either.

Kutaisi is a good starting point for many great tours. Nearby are Prometheus Cave, Okatse Canyon and exciting Lost Places and Soviet architecture at Tsakaltubo.

If you want to continue from Kutaisi to Svanetia, be sure to check out my article about our Road Trip on the Svaneti Loop. By the way, you can rent this cool Lada Niva with roof tent in Kutaisi at Overlando. What better way to discover Georgia?

Trekking sandals, waterproof bags, sun hats and everything else you might need for your trip to the Martvili Canyon in Georgia you can find at Bergzeit.

Pitch for the Night

For us, one of the highlights of the region was our campsite for the night.

We were on the road with a Lada Niva and roof tent. I had previously searched on Google Maps for a possible camping site in the quite sprawling area at Martvili Canyon. At the bank of the river Abasha I finally found it (GPS: 42°28'42.3″N 42°22'47.5″E). Here you can stand (depending on the water level of the river and the weather) in the half-dried riverbed. A gravel road initially runs parallel along the eastern bank of the river. After about 1.5 kilometers, another dirt road branches off to the left in a hairpin bend toward the river. If the river would have even less water or with a vehicle with appropriate fording depth, the river can be forded here. Here is a lot of space and we had fresh water for cooking and for a cool bath. Since no rain was predicted (not even for the upstream regions) we were also not worried that the river would rise.

Our campsite in the half-dried riverbed.
Roadtrip Georgien: mit 4x4 Lada Niva von Kutaissi durch Swanetien
In the morning the dew still hangs in the grasses.

Read more Articles about Georgia

Okatse Canyon: Panoramic View and Stomach Tingling at the Hanging Cliff Trail

Yesterday's Visions of the Future: Soviet Architecture in Tbilisi

Road trip Georgia: in 4×4 Lada Niva from Kutaisi through Svanetia

Chiatura - Legendary Cable Cars, Lost Places, Soviet Architecture and More

Book Recommendations for Georgia

Do you want to know where the journey is going? Then I can recommend this travel guides* to you.

You can order the travel guides at Amazon by clicking on the pictures. If you buy a product via an affiliate link, I get a small commission and you help me to keep filling Fernweh-Motive with interesting articles. The product will not be more expensive for you and you do me a huge favor.

Have you ever been to Georgia, maybe even to the picturesque Martvili Canyon? How did you like it? Do you have any questions about my article? If yes, then write me a comment!

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Recommendations for further Reading

Do you love Eastern Europe as much as I do? Then you might also be interested in my articles about a Road Trip in Albania or about a Road Trip around the Baltic Sea.

Roadtrip Albanien - 15 Highlights & Tipps und Route
Road Trip Albania - 15 Highlights & Tips and Route

Roadtrip Ostsee – 21 Highlights, Tipps und Route für Russland & Baltikum
Roadtrip Baltic Sea - 21 Highlights, Tips and Route for Russia & Baltic States


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