Tsalka, or Dashbashi, canyons make up one of the most majestic natural landmarks in Georgia. One of the sights in the canyon that distinguishes Tsalka from anywhere else is the breathtaking emerald green waterfall that runs year-round. This photogenic place is only 110 km (68 miles) from Tbilisi.
The canyon was formed by the Ktsia (Khrami) River in the Dashbash volcanic plateau. It is now characterized by its unique attributes and biodiversity. It is located 1,110-1,448 m (3,642-4,751 ft) above sea level.
Summers here are chilly and beautiful with lush green surroundings. Winters are quite magical as well, with dozens of frozen waterfalls to be found along the trails.
From Tsalka, drive 45 minutes southwest to Paravani Lake, another natural wonder of the country. At 2,073 meters (6,801 ft) above the sea level, the lake is quite refreshing. It’s surface area is 37.5 sq. km (14.5 sq. miles), which provides plenty of space for kayaking, canoeing or fishing adventures.
Paravani is even more gorgeous during the winter when it freezes completely. Summers here are lovely as well, with nature in full bloom and surrounding hills making for a spectacular view. It would be easy to spend more than a day in this wonderland.
Javakheti National Park
Established in 2011, Javakheti National Park is only an hour from Paravani Lake by car. This young park is brimming with beautiful nature, unique volcanic mountains, lakes, sub-alpine meadows, natural alpine forests and numerous bird species. The wildlife here has 16,209 hectares (40,053 acres) of land to roam. This is a great place to hike and picnic.
From Javakheti National Park, Akhaltsikhe is only 91.5 km (56.8 miles) away. This small city in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region is home to the Rabati Fortress, a medieval castle complex built in the ninth century.
According to many historical sources, the town was called Lomisa when it was first built; the name supposedly changed in the twelfth century to Rabati. This fortress is open to all visitors of all backgrounds and religions. Catholics, Jews, Muslims and those of the Orthodox faith have their own place to worship within the complex.
This resort town in south-central Georgia is located in the scenic Borjomi Gorge on the eastern side of the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park. The town is known for its mineral water industry, the Romanov summer palace in Likani and the national park.
The mineral springs are believed to have healing powers, thus the city is a popular destination for those who are looking to improve their health. Nevertheless, Borjomi is a wonderful place to relax and refresh after hiking in the wilderness.
Chiatura is one of Georgia’s most productive centers for processing manganese in Transcaucasia. However, this is not the reason why we added Chiatura to this list. If you are genuinely looking for an adventure, a ride on an antique cable car that hasn’t been updated since the Soviet era will surely get the adrenaline pumping!
The city of Chiatura was built along a steep-sided river valley, where walking up to the mines took a long time and reduced productivity. In 1954 an extensive cable car system that connected city and mine districts together was installed. Today, 17 aerial lifts still exist and operate on a daily basis. If you dare, take a ride on one that has been taking passengers across the valley for at least six decades.
From Chiatura, take a small 15 minute drive to another natural wonder of Georgia – the Katskhi Pillar. This mind boggling monument is 40 meters (131 ft) high and has two small churches on top of it. Unfortunately, only men who have been blessed by local monks are allowed to climb the pillar and visit the churches.
But don’t worry, the pillar is absolutely stunning from the bottom. If you are determined to see it at eye-level, there is a hill in front of it that you can hike. Bring a pair of binoculars and you’ll be able to see the churches quite well.
This cave monastery is another site that should be on your adventurous road trip itinerary. Dating back to the second half of the twelfth century, these caves stretch along the cliff for 500 meters (1,640 ft).
Apart from wandering through the caves, visitors are welcome to explore the Church of Domination, built in the 1180s. The church hosts an extensive collection of wall paintings and frescos. Guests spend hours combing through the halls and caves here. Be sure to give yourself enough time to truly appreciate this unique location.
Martvili Canyon in the Samegrelo region used to be the ruling Dadiani family’s bathing space. Today it is a popular destination among locals and tourists for its emerald green river and scenic waterfalls.
The last stop on our road trip itinerary is Svaneti, one of the most rural areas of the country. Home to the ten highest peaks of the Caucasus, medieval defense towers, a significant Georgian museum, and the highest settlement in Europe, Svaneti is a perfect place for adventure seekers. Give yourself time to acclimate to the high altitude and at least two days to explore the area.