Kutaisi, Georgia | Wild Swimming at Kaghu Waterfall, A Secret Place in Georgia

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A Rare Find These Days

You have to get excited when discovering places that are still unspoilt, have yet to be listed in any guidebooks and are difficult to find, even with the help of Google Maps. We have been lucky to explore many secret places on our travels across the globe, including some amazing spots in Morocco, Vietnam and in Georgia. Admittedly, the chances of finding unusual and off the beaten path places may be relatively more plentiful in Georgia, the country is by and large still not on the radar of most tourists but I am sure this will change in the next few years.

Perfect for Before or After Visiting Martvili Canyon

After our visit to Sataplia Nature Reserve, we did indeed stumble upon one of these secret places, the Kaghu waterfall, a scenic cascade of crystal clear waters and the perfect place to cool off during the heat of Georgia’s summer. Kaghu Waterfall, also provides a picturesque destination for a hike after or before a visit to nearby, much more touristy, Martvili George. I had discovered the waterfall, almost by accident, during my research for our visit to Martvili Canyon and we love chasing waterfalls, especially when a swim is included in the expedition.

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Getting There:

The easiest way to reach Kaghu waterfalls is by car, followed by a walk. After a couple of false starts trying to locate the right place we finally parked our car at Balda Monastery, about 10 minutes by car from Martvili Canyon. F rom there we walked along a narrow dirt track, that can be driven with a 4×4, above the right side of the mountain Abasha River.

Crossing the River

After about 15mins on foot we arrived at a point where we had to cross the cool, waters of the mountain stream. Someone had built a makeshift iron, bridge and we safely crossed to the other side. Crossing the river through the rushing waters is not advisable, as it could rush you off your feet and people have been injured and drowned by trying! Likewise it is probably too deep to attempt in most 4 by 4 cars.

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A Mesmerising Sight

After a further, short walk we discovered that Kaghu Waterfall was already a popular destination for a swim with the locals. Wooden huts, tables and benches had been built to serve as improvised food stalls. Each proprietor invited us to take a seat at one of their tables but we declined and found a spot on the rocks, next to the mountain stream. From there we had a great view of the Kaghu waterfall, the clear water cascading down the moss-covered rocks was a truly mesmerising and inviting sight. Of course we could not wait to get into the water for a swim and quickly changed into our costumes. Other visitors, some tourists and locals, alike, were swimming in the natural pool that had formed in front of the waterfall. Others swam underneath the cascade and climbed up onto the ledge behind.

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Swimming Underneath a Waterfall

Dipping our feet into the water we quickly realised that the water was freezing. Nevertheless we took the plunge and then glided slowly along with the current towards the water cascading down from the cliff above. Most waterfalls are too powerful to actually swim underneath, but Kaghu thankfully was not too strong and we could easily enter the curtain of water, falling onto our heads. Wild swimming underneath a waterfall is truly a memorable experience and at Kaghu this is possible, even for adults and kids that are reasonable swimmers. However everyone should be aware there are no lifeguards around and swimming is always at your own risk, especially in quite cold water. I would advise not to enter the water when the current is too strong, especially after days of persistent rain or a heavy downpour.

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Local Entrepreneurship

After our first swim in the refreshing waters of Kaghu waterfall we were approached by a local boy o similar age to Jerome. He held out a key ring with our photo inside for sale in exchange for a few Lari. We had seen him walk around with an expensive digital camera earlier and had been wary of him taking photos of the people around us and obviously of us too! I was quite upset about him taking a snapshot from afar in our swimwear without permission but we on the other hand had to support his entrepreneurship and idea. So we bought the key ring from the boy and decided we could always change the photo inside for a better one!

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Sad to Leave…

The boys soon went for another swim in the freezing waters and underneath the waterfall, while I enjoyed the views towards the mountains and the river valley. Sadly we had to move on and leave this beautiful secret, spot behind if we still wanted to make it in time to float through Martvili Canyon before closing. If we would return to Georgia one day, we would almost definitely take more time to explore the area and hike further up the valley to another remoter, waterfall that has a reputation for being even more striking than Kaghu Waterfalls.

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