We are never tired of pointing out that Georgian nature is very diverse. Different landscapes offer different types of adventures for those who don’t like traditional sightseeing or relaxing vacation at the seaside. We should warn you about timing of the trip: some destinations really require more time to reach them, so better don’t plan too many activities a day.
So, if we move from its Eastern border westwards, we will start with Kakheti, the biggest region of Georgia. There you pass by a semi-desert, red hills of David Gareji area, mud volcanoes of Vashlovani and dry steppe around Chachuna canyon. Then these Martian-like landscapes are changing to green fruitful valleys and vineyards. Kakheti, or rather its historical province Tusheti, is also a place, where you can try out the most challenging highland roads.
Getting to Tusheti is difficult. The pass from Kakhetian village Zemo Alvani is open in the warm season only: the cars usually start moving there in late June and stop after the snowfalls in October. There are also small planes and helicopters going there with food delivery from time to time, but regular air tours are not developed yet. Anyways, Tusheti is a great place to be because of its remoteness, well-preserved ancient traditions and many unbeaten tracks. Main places to visit are Omalo, Diklo, Dartlo, but there are many more really fascinating places, which are known just to the locals and those who stay with them longer. It is not easy to make friends with them, even though there are Georgians. The highlanders can be quite closed people, but inside each of them there is a warm and brave heart.
Just a ridge away there is another historical area called Khevsureti, which is still not a huge touristic hub, but a great place for retreats, hiking, trekking and exploration of local culture. Climbing to abandoned fortress Mutso, seeing the necropolis Anatori, where dozens of people came to die from a disease hundreds of years ago, experiencing some pre-Christian traditions (let’s say, they still have their own gods and little temples)… Sounds exciting, right? Add to this the pristine nature, almost complete solitude and high passes (Datvisjvari in Khevsureti is at the altitude of 2676 m, Atsunto pass between Khevsureti and Tusheti at 3431 m), and get a great destination for experiencing real wild Georgian mountains in all their beauty.
The other great place in Khevsureti is Abudelauri lakes – there are three of them, the green, the blue and the white. First you should reach village Roshka, and then… then it’s time to hike. It usually takes a day, if you want to see all lakes quickly, but if you don’t mind to camp, do it and split your trip on two days.
The rivers Aragvi and Mtkvari, which are flowing in these regions, are very good for white water rafting and kayaking. The Georgian tour agencies offer such wet adventures from spring to late autumn. There also paragliding and bike tours in the mountains – not exactly in Khevsureti, but in Stepantsminda, Juta and Sno valley, which is a bit closer to Tbilisi.
Moving further, direction Western Georgia, you will also discover places, which are super good for hiking – Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park with several short and long routes, equipment rental and overnight possibilities is one of them. The other natural reserves, Sataplia and Prometheus caves are offering an experience of going really underground, to the very guts of Georgia. Those are beautiful places, though not super extreme.
Svaneti and Racha, the other highlands of Western Georgia, are also awesome for nature lovers. Tourism infrastructure development has already reached Svaneti, where two ski resorts have been built in the last five years, but Racha is totally unspoiled and raw. Hiking and white water rafting are possible there, and your eyes will be grateful to you, as they will embrace this beauty.
In the Georgian West Coast there is another small natural reserve, Mtirala. It is one of the most humid places in the country! A real jungle. And its infrastructure includes a zipline – again, not super extreme, but worth trying. Going to Mtirala from Batumi takes 1.5 – 2 hours with a car: the road is under development yet.
Jeep and biking tours are also available in this region (Ajara). Those mountains are incredible, even though not that high as in Svaneti or Tusheti. Contact the local travel agencies to get the information about the prices and prepare yourself for a trip full of emotions!