Earth : Europe : Georgia (country) : Rioni Region
Rioni Region is a lush, green, mountainous region in western Georgia along the Rioni River.
- Kutaisi — historically the capital of western Georgia, Kutaisi is a must visit for its two UNESCO World Heritage sites
- Ambrolauri — the capital of Racha is gritty, but attractive, very leafy, and up a very steep road leading to the Greater Caucasus
- Lentekhi — a rather town of Lower Svaneti, which boasts several 10th century churches, a castle, and Svan towers in a nearby village
- Oni — a very pretty, rustic town on the Rioni River up in the mountains that was for millennia a center of Georgian Jewish culture. Today it is becoming a major tourist destination for domestic travelers as well as attracting adventurous foreign travelers attracted to its natural beauty, remote setting and a local culture that has not seen the effects of tourism yet
- Shovi — a high alpine Soviet-style resort near the source of the Rioni River in Upper Racha; simply unbelievable hiking opportunities
Georgian is unquestionably the main language in the region, but much of the older generation speak Russian and the younger generation is increasingly speaking English due to hostility towards Russia, and also because English is taught in schools since independence and has replaced Russian as a second language in schools nation-wide. When in need for help, look for younger people, as they are more likely to know some English.
Georgia's principal east-west highway passes through Kutaisi, and you can get to pretty much anywhere from there. To the east, past the highway junction at Khashuri are the Kartli cities of Gori and Tbilisi to the east and Borjomi to the south.
There is a road leading north from Lentekhi that is the principal route into the high mountain villages/fortresses of Svaneti. And lastly, there is a road leading east from Oni towards Tskhinvali, South Ossetia, but this route is susceptible to highway banditry, carjacking, and kidnapping and is not recommended.
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