Despite the small territory, nature of Georgia is distinguished for its diversity. Here one can observe the marine subtropical, mountain alpine and sub-alpine, as well as arid and semi-arid fascinating landscapes with number of the preserved rarest flora and fauna species. 6.6% of the country’s territory is nominated the protected areas. The history of protected areas has the ages-long history in Georgia. In mountains there still are sacred forests, where since the ancient times it was and still is prohibited to hunt, cut the wood or collect berries. As far back as in 12th century, Queen Tamar issued the first state order on protection of the designated territories. The first official state reserve – Lagodekhi Reserve – has been established in 1912. Currently Georgia houses 18 reserves, 5 national parks, 3 monuments of nature, 11 restricted zones and 1 protected landscape.
Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park has been established in 1995. It is located in the central part of the country and is part of Minor Caucasus. This is one of the biggest parks in Europe and covers more than 76,000 hectares. Altitudes vary from 400 to 2,642 meters above the sea level. The northern part of the park is located in subtropical climatic area, while southern part is dryer. The ecosystem includes virgin mountain forests. Part of the territory lies in the subtropical and sub-alpine belts. Borjomi-Kharagauli national park offers its visitors of different interests and capabilities nine touristic hiking routes. (The overnight stations and places for picnics are arranged; it is possible to hire guides and horses.)
The reserve, which is located on the southern slope of the eastern part of Great Caucasus at the 400-3,500 meters from the sea level has been established in 1912. Its total area makes 24,268 hectares. The warm air masses coming from Caspian Sea create subtropical dry climate. The Lagodekhi Reserve is the only site on the UNESCO List of Natural Monuments from Georgia and is part of the world map of reserves. Territory houses many waterfalls, highest among them having the height of 90 meters. Lagodekhi national park offers its visitors of different interests and capabilities four touristic hiking routes. (The overnight stations and places for picnics are arranged; it is possible to hire guides and horses.)
Tusheti Protected Territory has been established in 2003. It includes Tusheti National Park (85,453 ha), a protected landscape (27,903 ha) and a state reserve (10,694 ha) being the biggest in entire Europe. Tusheti is the mountaineous region in the extreme north-west of Georgia. Its altitudes spread from 900 to 4,492 meters above the sea level. The climate is cold and is attributed to the alpine climatic zone. The ecosystem of the park includes sub-alpine and alpine belts. This territory is especially important as the habitat of Asia Minor leopard, of which just several individuals are remaining in the Caucasus. Flora and fauna of the region are preserved in their original conditions including some species of tinder (Polyporus igniarius) that were not known to grow in Georgia. There is glacial lake Oreti found on the territory of the park, which offers the following touristic services: bird observation, adventure tours, historic-cultural tours, photo-tours, fishing. The the tours are tailored for the tourists with different experiences and interests. (The overnight stations and places for picnics are arranged; it is possible to hire guides and horses.)
Kolkhida National Park is located to the south from the Great Caucasus Range, at the Black Sea coastal zone of the Colchida Plain. Area of the mountaineous part of the park makes 28,571 hectares, and the area of sea aquatorium 15,742 hectares. The park has been established in 1998. Colchida Plain is of interest from the botanical point of view and rather diverse relict and endemic groups of flora species. Since it lies on the Eurasia-Africa route of the migratory birds, one can observe here not only the local, but the rare migratory bird species as well. The national park offers its visitors five touristic routes (they can also be passed by the punt boats) and an opportunity of bird observation and
The Vashlovani National Park is notable for its unique, bad-land-like landscapes of desert and semi-desert steppe vegetation and arid and deciduous forests. The name Vashlovani derived from the natural similarity and disposition of pistachio and apple trees that leaves the association of the fruit garden. It is also a home to the remarkable cliffs-of-the-canyons, locally called the "Sharp Walls” and the magnificent Alazani flood plains and forests. The pistachio and juniper trees are unique to the place.
Vashlovani supports a 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.
It total area amounts to 35053,7 ha. Administrative and visitors center of the national park is located in Dedoplistskaro. Exhibition and presentation hall is designed in administrative building, where visitors have the opportunity to become familiar with the specifics of protected areas, existing tariffs, safety rules and choose the desired travel route. Vashlovani Protected Areas tourist trail network gives the possibility of hiking for one or several days. Paths are marked and well-arranged. Bungalows and camping sites are arranged along the routes. Sites for setting up a fire are also allocated. National park offers hiking, geological, photo, cultural and educational tours
Note: it is necessary to check-in in Visitors center before visiting the national park. Please have an identity card and a car-passport with you.
Complex of Imereti caves is located at a distance of 10 km from the town of Kutaisi. Its area covers about 354 hectares. Sataplia and its karst caves are located at 500 m above the sea level. Amount of annual precipitation reaches 1,900 mm. Average air temperature in January is +4 and in August +25 degrees Celcius. Reserve is located in the subtropical zone and 98% of its territory is covered by subtropical young forest of Colchic type. Forest is dominated by beech groves with box-tree underbrushes and hornbeam groves with oriental hornbeam underbrushes. Coniferous plants include natural yew trees (Taxus baccata). There are 67 species of wood plants described on the territory of the ntural reserve. 30 out of them are tree species and 37 bush species; among them 59 are deciduous, 8 - evergreen. Nearly half of wood plants are relict. There are relicts of the Tertiary period among them including Caucasian hornbeam (Carpinus caucasica), Georgian oak (Quercus iberica), oriental beech (Fagus orientalis), Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa), Imeretian buckthorn (Rhamnus imeretina), alder (Alnus barbata), European bladdernut (Staphylea pinnata), Colchic box-tree (Buxus colchica) et al. It is remarkable, that nine of the rare and endangered species of wood plants which are on Georgia’s Red List are widespread in the strict nature reserve. Besides, three of them are endemic to Caucasus and one - to Georgia. Territory of Sataplia reserve is inhabited by 12 species of mammals, 5 species of reptiles, 4 species of amphybians and 30 species of birds. Among large mammals are: jackal (Canis aureus), badger (Meles meles), Pine marten (Martes martes), Caucasian squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris), hare (Lepus europeus) and Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes); rarely the grey wolf (Canis lupus) and the Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus). Multicolored birds complete the beautiful view of Colchic forest. The strict nature reserve is a kingdom of swallows, chaffinchs, chiffchaffs, blackbirds and jays. It is frequently visited by hoopoes, quails and woodcocks as well. The most developed types of tourism on the adjacent territories of the park are the cultural and archeological tours. It is also possible to organize driving and adventure tours to Zekari and Sairme. Sataplia itself has a considerable potential for speleological tours. Territory of the reserve offers good opportunities for organization of ecological and bird-watching tours. Ethnographic and wine tours are also possible in the picturesque Imeretian villages nearby the strict nature reserve.