In 1930 the Ritsa Nature Reserve (162.89 km²) was established to protect the natural state of the lake and the surrounding land. The road from the Black Sea coast was built in 1936. The lake was an important tourist attraction during the Soviet period. It is still frequented by Russian tourists.
Lake Ritsa is one of the deepest lakes in Georgia (116 m), and is rich in trout. The average annual temperature in the area is 7.8 degrees Celsius (January −1.1 °C, August 17.8 °C). The mean annual precipitation is approx. 2,000 - 2,200 mm. Winters are sometimes snowy, summers warm.
Lake Ritsa is fed by six rivers and drained by one, the Iupshara River. The resort of Avadhara lies to the north of the lake. The Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin had one of his summer-houses (dacha) by the lake. Today this dacha belongs to the Abkhazian government.
The Ritsa Legend
Once the brothers went too far into the mountains. Ritsa missed them and sang. The forest robbers Gega and Iupshara heard her and decided to kidnap her. Iupshara caught her and rode down the valley, while Gega covered his flank. Ritsa's brothers heard her crying and came to the rescue.
Pshegishkha threw a sword at the robbers, but he missed and the sword flew over the river. The valley was filled with water and turned into a lake. Ritsa broke from Iupshara's grip, but fell into the lake. The brothers couldn't save her. Then Pshegishkha threw the robber Iupshara into the lake, but Ritsa's water wouldn't accept him and threw out him over Pshegishkha's sword and the water carried him away to the sea. Gega ran after Iupshara, but he didn't manage to rescue him.
Out of grief, the brothers turned into mountains, and today they are still standing here to protect the resting-place of Ritsa.
In the 1930s, during the construction of Stalins's dacha, soldiers carried building materials by the lacet. Once, in the most dangerous place, one truck fell d.own from the lacet. As the truck was falling, the driver cried: "Goodbye, Motherland!" So, today this place is named "Goodbye, Motherland!" among drivers.
The Wolf Of The Caucasus