Nazy’s Guest House is situated in Jokolo village in the Pankisi Valley, in the mountainous region of north-eastern Georgia. This small region is home to the Kist community and their village settlements. Pankisi Valley is located in the Akhmeta district in the Kakheti region, which borders Ingushetia and Chechnya to the north, Dagestan and Azerbaijan to the east.
Pankisi Valley can be reached easily by car or taxi from Tbilisi in 2 hours (via the Gombori Pass) or by minibus/marshrutka in 3 hours on the same route. The road distance is about 143 kilometres.
The general condition of the roads along the main route is good but tends to worsen beyond Telavi as you head towards Akhmeta. The road for most of the journey is single carriageway. There are opportunities to refresh and refuel en route. Whatever your preferred mode of transport the winding journey takes you through Kakheti’s diverse and beautiful landscapes, which is an adventure in itself.
Tbilisi – Gombori Pass – Telavi
The main road from Tbilisi heads east then climbs north over the Gombori Pass (1650 metres) and descends through the Gombori mountain range heading north-east to Telavi (the administrative and cultural centre of Kakheti). From Telavi’s elevated position you can see great panoramic views of the spectacular snow-capped High Caucasus mountain range rising from the vast fertile plain below.
Telavi – Akhmeta – Matani – Duisi
From Telavi the Akhmeta-Batsara road runs north-west to Akhmeta (administrative town) then north to Matani. At Matani the road turns sharply north-east towards Duisi (administrative village for the Pankisi Valley). As you enter Duisi the police station (a modern blue/grey glass building) is located on your right hand side. The Alazani river is to your right and the main road runs parallel to it. Continue straight.
CAUTION: If you are driving please ensure that you lower your speed upon entering Duisi to avoid collisions. School children and cows frequently cross this road. Extra caution is required at night because there is little or no street lighting on the road. To improve road safety and reduce casualties new speed humps have been introduced.
Duisi – Jokolo – Nazy’s Guest House
Jokolo is 3 kilometres north from Duisi. When you arrive in the centre of Jokolo village you will see on your left side a two story building with wooden balcony and then two small shops next to each other. Directly opposite the two shops you will see a lane. Turn right into this lane. You will pass two small huts then a church (Saint George’s) on your left hand side. Turn right and left. We are the first house on the left with grey metal gates.
From Jokolo village the road travels north to Birkiani village (2 kilometres away) and ends at Dzibakhevi village (4 kilometres away). Here the asphalt road ends. The gorge proper is located about 7 kilometres from Jokolo and can be reached by a stony track leading to the Khadori hydroelectric power station and waterfall.
You can check and confirm minibus departure times (to Duisi and Jokolo from Ortachala Bus Station) with the Tourist Information Desk at Tbilisi airport on your arrival or at the bus station.
Ortachala Bus Station
The bus station is located 2.5 kilometers from the Old Town in the south-eastern part of Tbilisi. There are daily minibuses going to Duisi, Jokolo and Birkiani in the Pankisi Valley from here. Minibuses are parked at the front of the bus station in the open parking area next to the main road. There is a small convenience shop, benches and toilets nearby. The bus station is easily reached by public transport and taxi from any point in the city. From most parts of the city to the bus station a taxi should cost 3-5 GEL.
Public transport is safe, reasonably comfortable and inexpensive for making long journeys in Georgia. Sometimes minibuses can feel crammed and stuffy. Most vehicles do not have air conditioning and open windows provide ventilation. Despite this it is an exciting and convenient way to travel. The signage for place names is in Georgian. It would be useful to learn the Georgian alphabet and numbers or have reference close at hand. Please refer to our Useful Words & Phrases section.
Tickets can be purchased directly from the minibus driver in the parking area or ticket desk inside the station. The price is around 10 GEL per person one-way. This is the cheapest option but takes longer due to regular stops. The journey time is about 3 hours. Arrive at the station 30 minutes to 1 hour before departure time. Minibuses tends to leave only when most of the places have been occupied so a little patience is required.
For Duisi departs 08:00 am
For Jokolo / Birkiani departs 14:20 pm
Minibuses from Tbilisi to Akhmeta and Telavi operate between 08:00 am and 18:00 pm. They run hourly and cost 7 GEL to Akhmeta and 6 GEL to Telavi. This offers an alternative travel option. You can easily get a minibus or taxi from Akhmeta and Telavi to Jokolo, and the service is more frequent.
A shared taxi can be hired from Tbilisi to Jokolo for 50 GEL (carrying maximum of 4 persons). The price is 12-13 GEL per passenger. Depending on the size of group this is an economical alternative and offers more comfort and opportunities to stop. If you are a group of less than four you may have to be patient until another passenger arrives or pay a little extra for the vacant seat(s). The journey time is obviously shorter than by minibus. We advise guests to make their journey during daylight hours. Between 8:00pm and 8:00am the fair is 70 lari.
Isani Taxi Point
The taxi point is located in Isani, in the eastern part of the city. It can be easily reached by public transport or taxi. The Isani Metro station is located on Ketevan Tsamebuli Avenue adjacent to the taxi point. When you arrive at Isani make sure you are near the metro station end, next to the main road and busy traffic junction. The road next to the metro station sloping uphill is where you will see all the taxis parked. There are shops and cafes here.
A group of drivers tend to congregate and decide who will take you. Sometimes they will contend with each other. Don’t feel intimidated by this or accept the first driver you meet. State your destination (Jokolo, Pankisi) and stick to your price. Many drivers will try to charge more but insist the price you state is correct. There will also be Kist/Chechen drivers present (referred to ethnically as ‘Nokhchi’) who will make fair arrangements with you if they know you are going to Pankisi.
If you suspect your driver is drunk or the vehicle appears unsafe in any way do not proceed and change driver. Many drivers smoke in their cars but are happy not to if passengers request.
Distances & Times
Tblisi to Telavi 93 km – about 1 hour 10 minutes (via Gombori Pass)
Telavi to Akhmeta 27 km – about 30 minutes
Akhmeta to Jokolo 16 km – about 20 minutes
Minibuses leave Pankisi Valley daily. The departure times and locations are:
From Jokolo 06:00 am
From Duisi 11:40 am
We can call the bus driver for you and reserve a seat.
Depending on the number of passengers we can arrange a shared taxi from Jokolo. The driver can collect you from our guest house. Alternatively, we can arrange for a taxi to take you to Akhmeta from where a shared taxi can be taken to Tbilisi. There are more taxis available and the bus station is here too. We recommend that you make your travel plans early in the day and travel in daylight. The number of people travelling from Pankisi or Akhmeta to Tbilisi reduces considerably towards the late afternoon or early evening, when it may only be possible to get a taxi from Telavi.
Nazy's Guest House
Republic of Georgia