One of the things that distinguishes Georgia is its breathtaking natural scenery. It’s a paradise for those who love hiking, camping and spending time in the countryside. In Georgia, you’ll find stunning lakes, limestone formations, canyons and national parks. Read our guide to some of the natural wonders you should include on your Caucasus itinerary.
For several decades, the world’s deepest-known caves were considered to be in France, with the length deep into the ground up to 1,600m. However, in 1960, a Georgian speleologist made the first exploration of a karst cave in Abkhazia’s Arabika Massif, at the depth of 95m. It’s named after Alexander Kruber, the famous researcher of geography and speleology. In 2007, another group of speleologists expanded the area and went down to 2,191m. Five years later, in 2012, the cave was explored again by Ukrainian speleologists who managed to go down to 2,197m underground. Today, Krubera Cave is the most in-depth known underground space on earth.
Considered one of the impressive natural landmarks of Georgia, Martvili Canyon is located in the Samegrelo region. The canyon boasts the emerald-green Abasha River and splendid scenery for a small hike. Alternatively, you can also take a boat ride on the river and walk up to the waterfalls.
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The slopes of Egrisi are covered with vast pine tree and deciduous forests, and are home to several lakes that originated from glaciers. Among those lakes, Didi Tobavarchkhili – or Big Tobavarchkhili in English – is distinguished for its unique beauty, space and location among glacier mountains with the most profound point of 35m. In Megrelian, Tobavarshili means silver lakes, and is used as a general label for clear lakes of the area. There are six lakes under the name located in the alpine zone, and the transparency of the lakes gives a breathtaking reflection. According to the legend, the bed of the lake was covered with silver, hence the name. It is believed that the lake was guarded by wood goblins, who banned not only drinking but even touching the water. Thus, if someone puts a finger in the lake, or throws a stone, a terrible storm starts right that second even if the sky is blue without any clouds.
Svaneti region is home to some of the highest mountain peaks of the country – Shkhara Massif being the tallest of them all at 5,203m. It’s the second-tallest mountain in Europe after Mount Elbrus. However, mountaineers say that Shkhara is much more challenging and hard to tackle than the latter. But don’t get discouraged – you can easily access Shkhara glacier instead. You just need to get to the Ushguli community, located only 5km from the glacier.
Adjara, a coastal region of the Black Sea, is home to live, maiden sphagnum moss peat bog. At first glance, the area resembles lace, covered with 25-45sqm thick quilt of white sphagnum moss – the rarest in the world and the most sensitive to pollution of the environment. Rare peat bog of Ispani is part of Kobuleti preserve territory. There’s a walking path from the entrance to sanctuaries and the lookout tower. You can cross the channel by a suspended bridge, and if you’re lucky, you can even see the rare swamp turtle.
Village Upper Makhuntseti boasts a beautiful waterfall created by the river Makuntsetistskali, with a height of 52m. The infrastructure here is well developed, with restaurant-style eateries, picnic sites and inns. Approximately 0.5km away from the waterfall, there is a medieval stone bridge built under the auspices of Queen Tamar.
Khvamli’s rocky massif in Lechkhumi stretches out to the south for 300m and offers breathtaking views to the visitors. At the highest elevation – 1,700m – of the massif, there is a “frozen overpass” where ice lollies are made even in the summer heatwave. Legend has it that Georgian mythological hero Amirani is chained in one of the Khamly pits. Scientists also believe that this massif hides several caves that Georgian kings used to protect the country’s treasures during hostilities. However, not a single expedition has discovered any as of yet.
Tskaltubo municipality is rich with natural monuments, and one of them is its caves that are partially preserved territories of Imereti province. The administrative office of those caves is in the Sataplia reserve territory. One of the most significant of them all is Prometheus Cave, near the village Kumistavi, at 100m above the sea level. Discovered in the 1980s, the cave is one of the must-see attractions around Kutaisi. This karst cave is rich with stalactites, stalagmites, stalactites, helictites, purified falls and suspended stone curtains spread across 46.6 hectares. There are two exits in the cave – one continues with the underground river where you can hire a boat, or one goes to the pedestrian trail exit.
The village Katskhi is home to a standing limestone pillar – a rocky mass created by tectonic shifts. The name, Katskhi, comes from Svan language and means peak. The pillar is approximately 40-45m high, while the space of its square tip surface is nearly 150sqm. The upper part of the pillar has several small terraces, while the foot is thin and narrow – creating a negative tilt and making it even more inaccessible. Today, there’s a monastery on top of the pillar that doesn’t allow visitors.
Birtvisi is home to several independent rocks and high volcanic hillocks. Millions of years ago, lava torrents covered the area as a result of volcanic outbursts. Later, natural processes have changed their appearance. The least accessible fortress is located in the rocky, cone-like mountains of Birtvisi. You can reach the fort via a staircase cut in the rocks. Go up to the highest point of the citadel to have incredible views of the surrounding areas.
Abudelauri lowland is home to three different lakes, all of different colors: Green, Blue and White. There’s a walking trail from the village of Roshka to the lakes. First, you reach Green Lake, which gets its name from the significant amount of vegetation. Next is Blue Lake, located only 200m from Green. The lake doesn’t have inflows in summer, and the water is pure and fresh, hence comes the tint of blue and its name. 1km away from Blue Lake is White Lake, formed several decades ago. A muddy stream that melts from Abudlauri glacier flows into the lake, making the lake always turbid.
Truso Gorge, located near the northern border of Georgia is one of the most fascinating regions in the country and boasts beautiful mountains and mineral waters. The area is entirely tree- and plant-free. The countryside here is laid out on the left side of the gorge but is almost deserted. There are plenty of unique natural monuments here, such as Truso travertines and the mineral lake of Abano.
Ivris plateau differs from other spots of Georgia by a shortage of water, insufficient nature and dry terrain. In summer’s suffocating heatwave, trampled grass, dried springs, and a glut of reptiles make life and traveling here difficult. However, with its rich and famous historical and natural monuments, the area is still an attractive tourist destination. Udabno, or desert in English, is also home to the rocky mountains of Gareji where the outstanding religious and cultural monastery complex of David Gareji, is located.
Lagodekhi is home to some beautiful lakes – and the biggest of them is the Black Rock Lake at 2,900m above the sea level. The hike towards the lake is one of the most interesting, seeing the beautiful landscapes of Alazani Valley and Greater Caucasus mountain range as you walk through a forest full of rare flora and fauna. Black Rock Lake is a natural border between Georgia and the Republic of Dagestan in the Russian Federation. Therefore, you’ll need to have a passport with you for checking at the border.
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