When we traveled from Kakheti back to Tbilisi, we arranged for a sidetrip to Davit-Gareja. Davit-Gareja is a monastery on the Georgia-Azerbajan border. The landscape here looks somewhat like parts of Utah or New Mexico, and as such it is quite different than the areas visited before. Around Telavi and Tbilisi are wooded hills and agricultural lands with vineyards, but here there are extensive grasslands and exposures of yellow and reddish sandstone.
Our driver stopped in the ramshackle village of Udabno, out in the middle of nowhere, supposedly to buy cheese. We got out of the car and wandered around a bit.
We stopped at a big dipping slab of sandstone. The monastery is set in a gap, and prayer niches are carved out into the sandstone. All of this was moderately interesting, but I was keen to climb to the top of the ridge behind the monastery.
Several trails led up behind the monastery, and they were bushy and steep. It was blazing hot (well in excess of 30C) and we cursed as we dealt with thorns and awkward steep steps. I was told this area has a lot of snakes, and I was on the lookout for them. Finally the angle eased off and we got some nice views of the surrounding area.
I later tried to google the geology of this area, but unfortunately I didn’t find very much.
The top of the ridge offered spectacular views into Azerbajan.
The ridge itself offered a short but spectacular hike.
Wildflowers were blooming in abundance.
I recognized pincushion flower and chicory. There were other flowers that I don’t know the names of.
We met some other tourists on the trail and took each other’s pictures.
My guidebook says that the Georgian-Azerbajani border is not well defined in this area, but in essence it follows the ridge.
In the distance we could see an ancient watchtower. Here, a guard would have been stationed to watch over the Azerbajani plains to the south, and when enemies were coming he would have lit a fire to send smoke signals.
After having one more look around, we descended back down to the road.