Gaqinuli

Out in the hills of Racha, a good 30 minutes by foot away from the nearest house, is a massive hole in the ground: Saqinule Cave.

The word “saqinule” means “a place for ice,” based on the Georgian word for ice: gaqinuli (გაყინული).

Our friends had come up from Tbilisi with a driver to spend the weekend with us in Racha. At the end of a full day of adventuring, our driver veered off the main road onto a rocky dirt path leading to… somewhere.

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We didn’t really know where. There was talk of a cave, but that’s all we knew. Our driver got lost a couple of times on the way, stopping at a farm house to ask directions. We got out of the car and proceeded on foot through rocks, mud, trees and fields until suddenly we were there.

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At first look, the cave is absolutely frightening. You’re sure that something is alive down there, something you don’t want to see. Something that would love to eat you.

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We stood at the top, peering into the dark emptiness, deciding for certain that we weren’t going down.

(For those of you reading this in your email Inbox, you’ll need to click through to the post in order to see the videos below.)

And then our guide took off, into the cave.

So of course we had to follow.

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Once inside, it was much less scary. The only intimidating part was the steep climb down.

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While it was warm outside in the sun, the deeper we went into the cave, the cooler it got. And at the bottom: ice.

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As with most natural wonders, pictures don’t really do it justice, but hopefully you get some sense of the scale.

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Later, back above ground, the warm glow of a sunset lit our way back to the car.

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Racha, like most of Georgia, is a beautiful place filled with unexpected treasures.

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