Top-7 Hiking Destinations in Georgia

HIKING IN GEORGIA - On my visits to the republic of Georgia I have often been to the capital Tbilisi. As a hiking fan, I like to go on hikes around the town.

But now I have taken an interest in the hiking options in Georgia's regionsMuch of Georgia is nature reserve or national park, and hiking trails have been laid out in recent years. Most of the national parks have a visitors center and require registration before you go in. In my opinion that is fine, since they will then know you are there and it helps keep these beautiful places clean and pure. One day hikes are possible, but many trails are longer than that.

In most parks, sleeping cabins are available. One 'problem' in Georgia is the diversity of the natural landscapes, which makes it hard to choose a hiking destination.

Anyway, here is my top-7 hiking destinations in Georgia, with different types of landscapes included.

1. In subtropical South-Western Georgia, just east of the city of Batumi, there is the Mtirala National Park. Here you can get a feeling of what the ancient forests of Colchis must have been like. The name of the area means 'crying', referring to the huge amounts of rain that fall here. If you don't mind a little rain, you will find that it makes magnificent trees and plants grow high and wide and feeds impressive waterfalls.

2. The Kolkheti National Park is also in Western Georgia, but has an entirely different landscape. It is natural coastal wetland, unique along this part of the Black Sea Coast. Apart from hiking, you can specifically do some bird watching in this park.

3. In central Georgia there is a large, well-developed park, the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park. The landscape is that of the Lesser Caucasus sub-alpine forest and meadows. It has a pleasant climate that makes for great hikes. You will enjoy a unique flora and fauna and great views.

4. Vashlovani National Park in South Eastern corner of Georgia is completely different. It is a semi-desert steppe. There are large areas of lowland here, but also limestone cliffs and mud hills. There are lots of snakes here (the local guides will show you how to avoid problems with them) and even leopards. Some exotic flora here includes the wild pistachio tree and the wild pomegranate. In spring this park is full of beautiful wild flowers.

5. A little to more North East, near the border with Daghestan, is Lagodekhi National Park. This is mountainous terrain, part of the Greater Caucasus area. It is an alpine forest landscape. This park probably offers the ultimate hiking experience. Hiking here means climbing up hills and over rocks, sliding down steep paths and crossing waterfalls on narrow wooden bridges.

6. Svaneti, a region high up in the Caucasus mountains of Western Georgia, is not so much a national park as a large-scale live museum. This remote, mountainous area has largely remained the same from medieval times to the present. Age-old defense towers can be seen against the background of a powerful landscape. Starting in the town of Mestia you can follow a 1-day hiking trail that allows you to experience the most beautiful sights of Svaneti.

7. Tusheti National Park is located in the North Eastern Georgian historical province of Tusheti. This is one of the more popular and developed hiking destinations, mainly because it is both beautiful and relatively easy to reach from the capital Tbilisi. Like Svaneti, Tusheti is somewhat of a live museum of ancient Georgian mountain lifestyle and traditions. High up in the Caucasus mountains, you can see ancient defense towers (different from the Svaneti ones) and traditional villages in an impressive mountainous landscape.