Top 5 Protected Areas in Georgia Visited Most Frequently

The Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA) reports that in the first six months of 2019, 411.905 visitors visited Georgia’s protected areas, which is up 10% on the same period of 2018.

In January-June of 2019, the most visited protected areas in Georgia were:

1. Prometheus Cave

2. Martvili Canyon

3. Tbilisi National Park

4. Kazbegi National Park

5. Okatse canyon

The Agency of Protected Areas reports that the number of foreign visitors increased by 27% in the mentioned period.

In addition to this, in January-June 2019, Georgia hosted 3,862,444 international travelers, which is 8.4% more compared to the same period of 2018. In total, Georgia received 471,979 tourists last month (71,990 visits more, year-on-year).

According to the statistics, in June, the number of international travelers amounted to 873,966,an increase of 20.2%.

If you haven’t yet been to those Top 5 areas, put it on your summer list. Check them out below.

Prometheus Cave

The cave of Prometheus is located near the Georgian town of Tskhaltubo, 20 kilometers from Kutaisi in the Imereti region of western Georgia. The cave was discovered in 1984 and was soon developed as a show cave, in the past decade being installed with hand-railed concrete walkways and colored lights. It got its name from legendary protagonist Prometheus, who was said to have been chained to the mountains nearby.

It is the biggest cave in Georgia, although only one tenth is open to tourists, and it takes about an hour to walk through. Surrounded by a 3 km landscaped area, Prometheus Cave is one of the most attractive tourist spots in Georgia. It is a unique experience to feel the underworld atmosphere in all its glory and colors. Tourists can take a guided walk along the 1600-meter trail and then an additional boat ride out via the underground river. Visitors are usually stunned with the breathtaking sight of stalactites, stalagmites, petrified waterfalls, underground rivers and pools.

Martvili Canyon

Martvili village is located in the Samegrelo region of Western Georgia, 280km from Tbilisi. Martvili is one of the most popular canyons in Georgia and is divided into two parts, Upper and Lower. Paddle a dingy along the canyon from the Upper part to discover the 12-meter waterfall, or walk the renovated trail through the woods, past the steps ancient kings once used to access the natural pool. Due to the high humidity, the walls of the canyon are covered with moss, lending it a very green and jungle-like appearance. You will also see lianas that grow along the length of the canyon, small streams and numerous waterfalls.

While visiting Martivili canyon, make a stop at the 6th century Martvili Monastery (Chkondidi).

Tbilisi National Park

Tbilisi National Park is located 25 km from Tbilisi and is included in the Green Zone of the city. Between Mtskheta and Tbilisi, the national park was established in 1973 on the basis of the previously existing Saguramo National Reserve (established in 1946), making it the oldest national park in Georgia.

The territory of Tbilisi National Park is distinguished with a considerable diversity of fauna, and you might be lucky enough to see Roe deer, hare, Beech marten, Grey wolf, Brown bear, Red fox or lynx. There is also a diversity of reptile species and flora.

Tbilisi National Park directly borders with the masterpiece of Georgian architecture of the 6th century – the Jvari monastery of Mtskheta. There are numerous monuments of exceptional importance in Mtskheta and its surroundings, which are under the protection of UNESCO, including the 11th century Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, Samtavro Church of the same period, the 6th century monastery complex of Shio Mghvime and the Jvari monastery. All of Mtskheta is like a small city-museum and plays host to numerous Georgian and foreign guests daily.

Kazbegi National Park

Kazbegi has rich tourist potential: breath-taking nature, biodiversity, historical-cultural monuments, and an interesting local culture. Kazbegi National Park is located on the northern slopes of the main Caucasus range, in the basin of the Tergi River gorge. Boasting a total area of 9,030 hectares, all of the Kazbegi National Park is mountainous. Its lowest part is located 1400 m above sea level and the upper within 3000 – 4100 m. It was established with the aim of protecting Georgia’s high mountain ecosystems.

There is very rich flora and fauna in the park, including Georgia’s Red List species, such as the East Caucasian tur, chamois, wolf (Canis lupus), Pine Marten, Brown bear, and lynx.

The Strict Nature Reserve is the best environment for birds of prey like the Golden eagle, griffon vulture, Bearded vulture, the Caucasian Black grouse and the Caucasian Snow cock.

Historical monuments, such as the 14th century Sameba temple, 10th century Garbani church, Sioni three-part basilica, Akhaltsikhe basilica and 17th century Sno castle also prove popular with visitors.

Okatse Canyon

Okatse Canyon is located in the western part of the country, 50 kilometers from Kutaisi, in the gorge of the River Okatse. The length of the gorge is about 3 km, the depth is 50 meters. Walk along the one-kilometer newly-renovated and handrailed suspension bridge 140 meters up to get the best views of the gorge.

The footpath to the canyon passes through a beautiful forest area where you can see the ruins of the 18th century palace of the Dadiani noble family. The total length of the route from the visitor center to the canyon and back is about 7km.

At the end of the walkway, you will find a viewing platform in the form of a jib crane hanging directly above the center of the gorge. This platform offers the best view of the surrounding nature and the Okatse River below.

By Thea Morrison

Source: Georgian Tours

22 July 2019 18:03