Destination: Prometheus Cave, the biggest cave in Georgia - Georgia - Prometheus Cave

Prometheus Cave was actually a toss-up for us while on our Georgian road trip. Since we were basically passing just a few kilometers by it, and we were unlikely to be passing this way again any time soon, we thought ‘alright, sure, why not…’.

This turned out to be a great decision.

OK, the bad news first…

‘Middle of nowhere’ doesn’t quite describe its location — it’s about 20km from Kutaisi and 250km from Tbilisi — but it does take some time to reach (about 4 hours if driving from Tbilisi and perhaps 20-30 minutes from Kutaisi).

This site also features dual-pricing — non-Georgians pay double what locals pay, despite no clear reason as to why. You’ll need to join a guided tour (as you would with most caves around the world), but I didn’t see a posted schedule for them. We ended up waiting about 25 minutes for our tour to start, which was ample time to walk around the mini-museum, use the bathroom, etc.

What is Prometheus Cave?

Destination: Prometheus Cave, the biggest cave in Georgia - Georgia - Prometheus Cave

First discovered in the early 1980’s and originally known as Kumistavi Cave, the cave became a tourist attraction in 1985 with about 1 kilometer of pedestrian path laid out. The cave closed in 1990 when the Soviet Union collapsed, and it laid unused (but protected from vandals) until 2007.

In 2010, then-president Mikheil Saakashvili visited the area and suggested the name Prometheus Cave. For those as familiar with Greek mythology as I am (wait, isn’t there also a movie called Prometheus?), Prometheus defied the gods and gave fire to humans. As punishment, Prometheus was chained to a rock and an eagle was sent to feed on his liver.

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In any case, Prometheus was supposedly chained somewhere in the Caucasus mountains, which is in the area. Is there any truth to this Greek myth? Who knows — what matters is the story this place has to tell today.

Wait, there’s a story?

Destination: Prometheus Cave, the biggest cave in Georgia - Georgia - Prometheus Cave

That story is… mostly forgettable. The tour guide led the group at a pretty fast pace, covering the 1.4km tour in about 45 minutes, including hundreds of steps. I found myself falling behind while trying to get good shots in low-light situations (a struggle for DSLR’s even in ideal circumstances).

Destination: Prometheus Cave, the biggest cave in Georgia - Georgia - Prometheus Cave

There’s zero signage inside the cave that I saw, but the signs inside the visitor center detail the six halls you’ll stop in along the way. The path is well-defined, though there were light bulbs that needed replacing. Once your eyes were accustomed to the low light, this is less of an issue.

Destination: Prometheus Cave, the biggest cave in Georgia - Georgia - Prometheus Cave

The guide did a bit of talking about stalactites and stalagmites, how they grow a centimeter every century. Nothing you haven’t heard before if you’ve gone on a tour of a cave before,

Destination: Prometheus Cave, the biggest cave in Georgia - Georgia - Prometheus Cave

That’s a person in a blue shirt — and yes, it kind of looks like a gigantic creature about to eat them up (if you’re not seeing it, picture the green part as a tongue of sorts, with the red stalactites as the upper teeth — see it now?). Poor guy.

Destination: Prometheus Cave, the biggest cave in Georgia - Georgia - Prometheus Cave

Photographers, the rule is no flash, and there isn’t a lot around to serve as a brace or tripod. Remember the basic rule of shutter speeds to avoid blur: the shutter speed should be faster than 1/[focal length in mm]. Bump up the ISO to make it work, and remember it’s easier to fix noise than blur.

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Destination: Prometheus Cave, the biggest cave in Georgia - Georgia - Prometheus Cave

The rest of the photos are presented with minimal textual interruption.

Destination: Prometheus Cave, the biggest cave in Georgia - Georgia - Prometheus Cave Destination: Prometheus Cave, the biggest cave in Georgia - Georgia - Prometheus Cave Destination: Prometheus Cave, the biggest cave in Georgia - Georgia - Prometheus Cave Destination: Prometheus Cave, the biggest cave in Georgia - Georgia - Prometheus Cave

With the tour done in a brisk 50 minutes, about half of the group (including us) exited to the outside world and waited for a shuttle bus (the other half continued on an optional boat tour). The exit of the tour is some 600 meters from where you started — just far enough to prefer the more convenient option.

We waited comfortably in the shuttle bus until the boaters rejoined us — apparently, it’s a 10-15 minute boat ride on a single boat for all tourists through another section of the cave. They exited out a different exit, where the shuttle bus was waiting for them.

If your camera is up for the task, this is a worthwhile destination. There’s plenty of sights and lights (though they color shift), though some cameras won’t be able to pick up the scene (my iPhone 7 did fine, and I’d imagine most smartphones made in 2017 or newer would be OK). If you’re on a roadtrip in the area, consider this a worthy stop.

Destination: Prometheus Cave, the biggest cave in Georgia - Georgia - Prometheus Cave

How do I read this chart?

Name: Prometheus Cave
Address: unnamed road in Kumistavi (GPS: 42.376641, 42.600845)
Hours: 10am-5pm (November-March) 10am-5:30pm (April and October), 10am-6pm (May-September) — open everyday but Monday.
Admission: 23 Georgian lari. The optional boat tour is 17.25 lari extra.
Phone: +995 577 10 14 17
Website: http://apa.gov.ge/en/eco-tourism/servisebi-da-tarifebi/Prometheuscave

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