I shared a taxi from Tbilisi to Davit Gareja with a couple of other travellers. It cost us a very reasonable 50 US dollars (85 lari or so at the latest rate) so less than 30 lari each. We were picked up from where we all stayed in Tbilisi, taken to DG in a reasonably sturdy 4WD Subaru, and guided round for a couple of hours or maybe a bit more, dropped off back.
The chap's name is Tariel Tabashidze, and he's a thoroughly decent and good guy. He speaks enough English, and good German.
We had such a good time we took him out afterwards for tea, and the two travellers I was with even tried to pay - quite an achievement: they were Dutch girls!
Seriously, Tariel is a really good option if you want to do the Davit Gareja trip from Tbilisi. These were the contact details I had when I was there (summer 2006):
mobile 899 648928,
Rob Ainsley, London, England
i used the services of Nana Kokiashvili (see my Sighnaghi page). Her husband took us from Sighnaghi to Davit Gareji, waited for over 2 hours, and then left us in T’bilisi, for the cost of 120 lari. I think it was reasonable, since:
- the whole thing started at 9 in the morning and we jumped off in T’bilisi around 3 pm
- we also had a 30 minutes stop at Niakhuras Tsikhe on the way to Davit Gareji
- the option was time saving, as we continued the journey in a different place.
The road to Davit Gareji is really bumpy, but the deserted hills are quite an image.
First of all let's make it clear: Udabno monastery complex is in the desert. There is no public transport runing there. I see two main opportunities to get there if you are foreigner traveler: a) you can hire taxi from Tbilisi to David Gareja and taxi will take you for 90 or 100 Lari (it will wait for you and take you back. and b) you can take minivan (marshutka) from Samgori bus station in Tbilisi to Sagarejo (it cost 2 lari) and in Sagarejo (this is small town) take taxi from there to David Gareja ( last time taxi took from me 40 Laris till David Gareja Lavra, also it waited and took me back).
If you are not alone and sharing the taxi cost _ of course I suggest you to take taxi from Tbilisi. Because there is one error thing with "plan b)" - the last marshutka from Sagarejo to Tbilisi is turning back at 6:30 PM. which means you have to hurry while sightseeing. From Sagarejo to David Gareja Lavra taxi needs 1 hour or more. ( And btw, from Tbilisi to Sagarejo marshutka needs also 1 hour or more.) So, I only trying to say that in b) case you have to start your trip early in the morning and sightseeing faster. And in a) case you have more freedom. anyway, anyway.. it's up to you...
if you hire taxi please make sure that they won't go from Rustavi road. I suspect that this way is shorter, BUT! it's very bad road! If your taxi driver don't care about his car he might care about his petrol and try to waste it less and take yu from Rustavi road. So it's better to go from Sagarejo.
I would suggest the same to those who rent a car and go there themselves _ go from Sagarejo. This road has another advantage _ it's straight and not much opportunities to ask yourself _ "where to turn now?". because mind one thing: there is only one village in this desert... otherwise there are nobody to ask about way.
There is no public transport to Davit Gareja, but from Tbilisi you could take a marshrutka to Gardabani or Sagarejo and from there take a taxi. I was told though, by a few people, that there might not be possible to find a taxi in those two small places. It is better to share a taxi with some others from Tbilisi and that’s what I did.
A tour to Davit Gareja with Nasi’s (Nasi’s Homestay) neighbour was 100 lari (July 2006).
The road to Davit Gareja was very scenic and I many times thought we should stop on the way back to take photos. Guess if I was disappointed when I noticed we were taking another road back, not as beautiful as the first. Going to Davit Gareja we took the main road towards Sagarejo. On the way back we passed Gardabani and Rustavi. In Rustavi we stopped at a cafeteria for lunch.
The whole tour took about seven hours (I think).