The Georgian landscape is especially suited to the eco tourist – with its relatively unspoiled status and absence of mass tourism. The amateur botanist/zoologist finds themselves in a genuine heaven of rare plants and animals. With its 360 species of birds set in an area the size of Ireland, Georgia is a bird-watcher’s dream. Principal migration routes through the high Caucasus passes and along the Black Sea corridor provide superb viewing opportunities, and in stunning settings. Bird watching is a relatively new phenomenon in the Caucasus so the visitor not only sees some fabulous birds but also help break new ground.
Protected Areas Of Georgia
Not a single country in Europe possesses such rich flora and fauna as Georgia. No European country offers such diverse relief in such a small area. Nowhere in Europe is landscape preserved in such an original state as Georgia." Georgia, with a territory of only 69,000 square kilometers, is unique among the world's nations in bio-diversity. To find subtropical marshes, semi-deserts, lofty alpine zones and snowy peaks - all within a hundred kilometers of each other - is rare. Add to this the fact that nearly 40% of Georgia's territory is still covered in forest - a large proportion of which is untouched by humans - and one understands the establishment of its 31 Protected Areas, identified for conservation. Within these are five National Parks - with the aim to preserve their unique, pristine nature, yet open for visitors to enjoy their beauty.
Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park
Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park is the first National Park in the Caucasus region implemented according to international standards. 1995 it was created with support of WWF and the German government in order to preserve its extraordinary nature, especially its mountain's virgin forests. The Park possesses several natural zones in its ascent from 800 to 2700 meters. These zones display their differences in its trees from broadleafed groves located in the lower zones to evergreen, beach and mixed coniferous groves and sub-alpine trees in the higher zones. Visitors can experience the stunning variety of blossoming plants, breathtaking views and magical forests via parks wide network of 9 trails and 5 tourist shelters. Tourists can enjoy day or several day hikes that can span altitudes form 800m to 2,642m. In addition the National Park lies on the migration route of many birds and in spring and autumn visitors can view the large flocks of beautiful yellowish bee-eaters that visit the park. Plus the Park's amazing virgin forests are home to semi-permanent populations of brown bear, wolf, lynx, red deer and chamois. In spring the Park offers many pleasant surprises including encounters with alpine meadows full of flowers. And if that's not enough the Park's surrounding villages are rich with medieval history, local-cottage industries and famed, legendary Georgian hospitality.
KolKheti National Park
Kolkheti's coastal plain, between the mouths of the Tikori and Supsa rivers lies West Georgia's Kolkheti National Park. The Park possesses a large area of natural wetlands that are idea for bird-watching visitors. The coastal zone of the park, combined with an adjacent marine area make up one of the main migration routes for African and Eurasian water fowl and waders. In fact, over 194 different bird species are found in the region, including 21 species of migratory birds. The National Park, together with other areas of the Kolkheti lowlands, is considered to be the legendary Kolkhuri Pheasant's homeland. The region's picturesque wetland is rarely found anywhere else along the Black Sea's coastal zone. It is ideal for the developing boating, diving, hiking and horse-riding tourism in the National Park. The National Park was established in 1999 as part of Georgia's Integrated Coastal Management Project with the financial support of the World Bank (WB) and the Global Environmental Fund (GEF). It includes the Kolkheti State Nature Reserve established in 1947 (500ha) and the adjacent wetlands, including the Paleastomi Lake. Stretched as an unbroken line over the vast continent of Eurasia the National Park with its ajoining areas possess the tropical and subtropical landscape zones' remains from the Tertiary period, Containing rich biogeographical and paleogeographical information these unique wetlands are one of Georgia's valuable and extraordinary natural heritages .
Tusheti National Park
The Tusheti National Park, as part of the Eastern Caucasus was established in 2003. Perfect for hikers, it possesses spectacular mountain landscape reaching up to 4,800m, where splendid alpine meadows, lakes and extremely well-preserved pine forests lay.
Since April 2003, the Protected Areas of Tusheti include a 10,694 hectar (ha) Nature Reserve, a 83,453 (ha) National Park and a 27,903 (ha) Protected Landscape.
The National Park is home to a variety of rare and endangered animal species. It also possesses endemic plant relics, unique pine forests and a variety of forest-forming species, such as birch and high-mountain oak (Quercus marcanthera, Sorbus caucasigena and Salix carpea). Some mammals inhabiting this area include the Caucasian endemic subspecies which include the Caspian sea wolf, Caucasian lynx, Caucasian chamois and species of both East and West Caucasian tur. Protecting the remarkable wild goat was one of main goals in creating the Tusheti Nature Reserve. The bird species are varied and remarkable and include the lammergeier, Caucasian black grouse, Caucasian snowcock and pheasant to name a few. And if that weren't enough the mysterious, and thought to be extinct leopard presumably lives in this Park.On designated tourist trails visitors can explore this mountainous park by foot, horse or vehicle.Since 2003, the Park has been protecting and preserving the historic Tusheti villages which border the Park. Visitors can experience these charming villages (Diklo, Shenako, Dartlo, Kvavlo, etc.) where unique monuments of cultural legacy still stand.
Lagodekhi National Park
Lagodechi National Park is located on the southern slope of the Eastern Caucasus in Kacheti and offers nature lovers hiking through its untouched natural ecosystems, with beautiful lakes and splendid waterfalls. The National Park is home to many endemic species of flora and fauna, including rare plant species such as Mlokosevich's beautiful peony flower (Paeonia mlokosiewiczi), Lagodekhi's peony (P. lagodechiana), Primula juliae, Gymnospermium smirnowi. The Park is also home to Brown Bear, wolf, lynx, chamois, roe deer, red deer, East Caucasian tur and wild boar, as well as a variety of birds such as lammergeier, golden eagle, peregrine falcon and Caucasian snowcock. Among amphibians there is the endemic Caucasian parsley frog. Lagodekhi Managed Nature Reserve was designated in April 2003, with total area of 1,996 ha. It is located between settlements to the south and the Lagodekhi Nature Reserve to the north and consists of a wide network of trails, connecting the forests and alpine meadows. Visitors can travel by foot or horse along the tourist trails.
Vashlovani National Park
Vashlovani State Nature Reserve, located in the Easternmost pary of Georgia, was established in 1935 to preserve its unique, arid shallow forests. In April of 2003 the Reserve's area was expanded to 8,480 ha and Vashlovani National Park (25,114 ha) was created. The area is characterized by its dry climate sitting only 150-50 meters above sea level. The National Park is notable for its unique, bad-land-like landscapes of desert and semi-desert steppe vegetation and arid and deciduous forests. It's also home to the remarkable cliffs-of-the-canyons, locally called the "Sharp Walls "and the magnificent Alazani flood plains and forests. Unique to Vashlovani is its indigenous pistachio and juniper trees.Vashlobvani supports variety of incredible animals such as leopard, striped hyena, brown bear, wolf, lynx, wild boar, as well as a variety of rare birds including the griffon vulture, black vulture, Egyptian vulture, little bustard and the rare black stork.The river Alazani running along the eastern part of the National Park offers visitors a great opportunities for year-around boating. However, visitors are welcome to explore the park by foot, horse or vehicle on designated tourist trails.