This village 25km from Sukhumi makes a great outing from the city, though packed with tourists in July and August. The multi-gold-domed Novy Afon Monastery, founded by Russian monks in the 1870s, stands out on the hillside, about a 15-minute walk up from the main road – the path is lined with stalls selling wine, chacha, cheese, spices and tacky souvenirs. The monastery's cathedral, often thronged with worshippers, has sparklingly colourful murals. From there it’s a five-minute walk down to the 10th-century stone Church of Simon the Zealot, on the spot where the eponymous apostle was reputedly killed by Roman soldiers. A path leads up beside the waterfall here to Psyrtskha train station, from where you can walk 20 minutes up a pretty river valley to Simon the Zealot’s Cave, where the zealot lived.
West from the waterfall and church, it’s 650m to the Novy Afon Caves, where guides lead visitors on a 1.4km, 1¼-hour underground journey through a series of impressive chambers. From here it’s 2.5km uphill to Anakopia, capital of Abkhazia in the 8th century AD. Taxis can take you halfway up for R100. Inside the hilltop citadel are a ruined 8th-century cathedral and a recently rebuilt 11th-century watchtower with awesome views.