Georgian Protected Areas make up to around 7% of the country’s territory, from which 75% is enveloped in the forest. Some of those national parks have been laid out at the beginning of the 20th century, some features unique flora and fauna, that can not be seen elsewhere, while others are just great for hiking and admiring the nature. Here is the list of those National Parks in Georgia that should be on your bucket list.
Vashlovani National Park
Located in the Kakheti region, in the far eastern part of the Dedoplistskaro area, Vashlovani National Park covers approximately 35,053 ha of land. The park comprises of Vashlovani Nature Reserve, Vashlovani National Park, and three Natural Monuments such as Kaklisyure Alazani floodplain forest, Takhti-Tepa Mud Volcanoes, and Eagle Gorge.
Peculiar and exciting forms of relief are what make Vashlovani a unique place. Apart from this, it’s one of the driest and waterless areas of the country. The climate here is dry and very hot.
There are seven different trails to hike lasting from one to seven days, with designated campsites, bungalows, picnic spots, and fireplaces. You’ll need to have your ID or passport with you to check-in at the visitor’s center, as the park borders with Azerbaijan.
Lagodekhi Protected Areas
The Lagodekhi Protected Areas, located in the Kakheti region, at the southern slopes of the Caucasus, is one of the world’s best-conserved green areas with a remarkable diversity of natural sceneries. Established in 1912, when Georgia was part of the Russian Empire, Lagodekhi Protected Areas is the very first nature reserve in Georgia.
The park spreads from beech forests to the Alpine zone, where 70% of its land is covered with forest. Here, you can find rare regional flora and fauna, such as European hornbeam, Cappadocian and Norwegian maple, red deer, chamois, grey wold, eastern imperial eagle, Eurasian lynx, and the golden eagle to name just a few.
Currently, there are four beautiful trails you can hike, but the most popular ones are Ninoskhevi Waterfall and the Black Rock Lake, the natural border between Georgia and Dagestan.
Kolkheti National Park
Kolkheti National Park includes the eastern coastline of the Black Sea and the Lake Paliastomi and spans to two regions of Georgia: Samegrelo and Guria regions. It comprises wetlands; therefore, there are no walking trails in the national park. The only way to explore the area is to book a boat ride or kayak.
The park is home to endangered and rare species enlisted in the Red Book of Georgia, such as wingnuts, Colchis boxwood, and Colchosoak, to name a few. It is also home to around 200 bird species, making it an ideal spot for birdwatching lovers. The best time for it is October when you’ll be able to spot black kites, falcons, honey buzzards, sea eagles, imperial eagles, and buzzards.
Mtirala National Park
The word “mtirala” means “a person who constantly cries,” and the name derives from the fact that it often rains here. Located in the extreme western part of the Adjara, near the Black Sea, the park spans around 15,698 ha of land.
With two very well-marked trails to hike to, the park is a popular destination among backpackers traveling to the Black Sea. Those trails are quite short and require one or two days. Similar to other national parks in Georgia, Mtirala also has appointed spots for a picnic, fire, and a tent. Apart from hiking, you can try to zip line for a bit of an adventure.
Kintrishi Protected Areas
Kintrishi Protected Areas is another park you can explore in the Adjara. Located in the scenic valley of the Kintrishi River, at an elevation of 300-2,500 meters above sea level, the park offers two easy trails perfect for those who don’t have much time to spend in Georgia. The main highlights of it are the historic Tamara Arch and Lake Tbikeli. As most of the visitors who come to Adjara spend their days at the beach, the national parks here sees fewer tourists. Therefore, you might even have the trail all by yourself.
Javakheti Protected Areas
Javakheti region is a less explored area, even for the locals. Its Protected Areas is famous for breathtaking lakes situated on Javakheti Plateau. The biggest one is a volcanic lake called Paravani, which in the winter freezes and turns into a gorgeous winter wonderland. Other lakes worth checking out are Levani, Madatapa, Saghamo, and Kartsakhi. The region is woodless, with artificial plantations and small parts of the natural forest.
Borjom-Kharagauli National Park
With 85,083 ha of land, the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park extends to six regions of the country. Located near the spa town Borjomi, the park has 12 different trails that vary in difficulty. Some of them are suitable for one-day hikes if you’d like to have a beautiful smooth track while staying in the town.
Just like many other national parks of the country, it offers shelters if you don’t have a tent, campsites, fire spots, and picnic areas. There is no specific season to hike in this park, it’s open all year round, and offers various landscapes at different times of the year.