Borjomi to Bakuriani Train in Georgia
The Kukushka (translates as little cuckoo in Russian) is a 37 km narrow-gauge railway linking the national park town of Borjomi to the village & ski resort of Bakuriani in Georgia.
The construction of the 900mm wide line began in 1897, when Georgia was still part of the Russian Empire, and was completed in 1902.
Originally a steam loco pulled open carriages, but since 1966 the line has been electrified and the small steam engine was replaced by an electric “crocodile” locomotive made by the Škoda works in the then Czechoslovakia.
There are eight stops between the start and end stations, with the short journey taking around two and a half hours (average 15 km/h) due to the steep climbs and not very powerful engine pulling the two carriages.
I travelled it in October 2019 when the trees were a splendid autumnal canvass of reds, golds & browns. See some of the journey on my YOUTUBE channel.
Returning to Borjomi by road, we then took the cable car high above the National Park for some splendid views.
There are two trains a day in each direction and a ticket costs about 2 lari (£1) constituting a massive bargain. The train has been refurbished and you pay for your ticket during the train ride.
There are eight stops between the start and end stations, with you stopping halfway for around ten minutes to allow the train in the opposite direction to pass.
You can reach Borjomi from Tbilisi by bus or train. The train details are as follows:
From Tbilisi the train to Borjomi leaves at 06:40 and arrives at 10.45. Borjomi Parki, is the main station in the centre of town.
The train back to Tbilisi leaves at 16:45, arriving in the capital at 21.10. The journey costs 10 lari (£5) each way.
(The Tbilisi train station handily displays the entire Georgian rail timetable on a single electronic board).
Georgia Railway Timetable On A Board
The Kukushka train runs from Borjomi Freight Station 2.5 km east of the centre.
To reach this station you can take a taxi (5 lari) or the city bus (0.40 lari) from the central station.
The Kukushka to Bakuriani leaves at 07:15 and 10:55. The train back leaves Bakuriani at 10:00 and 14:15. If your time is limited you can take a quicker bus back to Borjomi.
We did the trip as a day tour as our time was limited. Book through Get Your Guide. The trip that also included a stop at a monastery en route took around 14 hours with a 6am pick-up and cost £35 each.
If you have the time therefore for a DIY tour, the travel can be done at a fraction of the price, but you would need an overnight stay.