Georgia is home to many national parks, some of which date back to 1912. Those protected areas make up to 7% of Georgia’s territory, and about 75% of them are covered with forests. Currently, Georgian Protected Areas include a vast and diverse collection of nature reserves, protected landscapes, natural monuments, and, of course, national parks. Read our guide to the nine national parks that should be on your bucket list when visiting Georgia.
Established in 1973, Tbilisi National Park was the first national park in the country of its kind. Located on the southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountain range, it stretches from the Mtkvari River to the Iori River at an elevation of 600-1,700 meters above the sea level. The National Park includes the districts of Gldani, Gulele, Gardabani, Martkopi, and Saguramo.The infrastructure is less developed here compared to other national parks in the country, but in 2013 the first cycling routes were marked. The park offers three trails: the big viewpoint trail, the Mamkoda medium loop, and the Mamkoda difficult loop.
Located in extreme western part of the Adjara-Imereti range near the Black Sea, the total area of Mtirala National Park is 15,698 ha. The administration building is in Chaqvi, while the visitors’ center is located 15 km away from it, in the village of Chaqvistavi. Trails here are marked and very well arranged, with only two hiking routes that take a day or two. You can have a picnic and even camp here, as there are designated fire spots throughout the park. The best season to visit Mtirala is spring, summer and early autumn.
The Vashlovani Protected Areas, situated in the extreme eastern part of the Dedoplistskaro district, includes Vashlovani Nature Reserve, three Natural Monuments (Eagle Gorge, Kaklisyure Alazani floodplain forest, and Takhti-Tepa Mud Volcanoes), and Vashlovani National Park covering up to 35,053 ha of land. The name Vashlovani comes from the genetic similarity and distribution of pistachio and apple trees that leave the impression of a fruit garden. Both the administrative and visitors’ center of the park is in Dedoplistskaro. The trails here are diverse and can take from one to seven days, depending which one you are interested in. Picnic spots, campsites, fire spots, and bungalows are arranged along the routes. Note that you need to check in at the visitors’ center before you head towards the national park, so you need to have your ID with you.
Situated in western Georgia, Kolkheti National Park includes the Lake Paliastomi basin and the eastern coastline of the Black Sea. The park extends to two historical parts of the country – Guria and Samegrelo. You can ride a boat on Lake Paliastomi and the Pichori River, go fishing, birdwatching, or hiking.
Tusheti Nature Reserve and National Park, located in the municipality of Akhmeta, has 11 functioning trails that give you the possibility of observing and becoming part of the unique historical, cultural, and natural beauty of Tusheti‘s landscapes, visiting its UNESCO World Heritage villages, and enjoying the views of the medieval defense towers. The tourists season here lasts from June until the end of September.
The Lagodekhi Protected Areas are one of the world’s best-preserved primitive areas with a great diversity of natural landscapes. Located in Lagodekhi, in the far northeastern part of the southern slopes of the Caucasus, the protected area includes Lagodekhi Nature Reserve and Managed Reserve, which create optimal conditions for understanding nature through infrastructural development, education, and recreation works. Currently, there are four breathtaking trails in the area, from which the Black Rock Lake trail is the hardest.
Another park in the Adjara region, the Kintrishi Protected Areas are situated in the picturesque valley of the Kintrishi River at an altitude of 300-2,500 meters above sea level. The area offers its visitors two trails that are suitable for a one-day or two-day hike. The Tamara Arch and the Box-Tree Stand trail is the easiest, while the Yew and the Lake Tbikeli are considered to be average. Similar to other national parks, camping sites, fire spots, and picnic areas are well marked.
Established in 2011, the Javakheti National Park is part of the Javakheti Protected Areas, which is famous for its several lakes on Javakheti Plateau. One of the biggest of them all is Lake Paravani. The region is woodless with an artificial plantation of pine stands and small fragments of natural forest.
The Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park sits on 85,083 ha of land and extends to six districts of the country. The visitor and administrative centers of the park are located both in Borjomi and Kharagauli. The park features 12 different trails that are suitable for either a one-day or multi-day hike. There are tourists shelters, campsites, picnic sites, and fire spots along the trails, making this park the most well developed compared to the others. Besides hiking, here you can ride a horse and even bike throughout the entire year.