Georgia is a lush, mountainous country resting high on the south of the Caucasus Mountain range. Georgia is a very ecologically diverse country encompassing 12 climate zones covering everything from subtropical to alpine and semi-arid. With its enchanting landscapes and wondrous nature, Georgia is the perfect place for you to unplug, explore the outdoors, and reconnect with nature.

 

So, grab your backpack and start your journey through some of Georgia’s most luscious national parks, sparkling lakes, and captivating canyons. Take your time, sit back and relax, and enjoy nature at its best.

 

1- Kazbegi

 

 

Sitting on the northern slopes of the Caucasus Mountain range, Kazbegi is one of Georgia’s most famous mountain retreats. A 4-hr drive north of Tbilisi awaits you in the small town of Kazbegi with its fascinating natural and cultural wonders. Approaching the city, you are welcomed by the captivating sight of Mt. Kazbek. The majestic peak looming over the tiny town of Kazbegi will leave a lasting impression on you. Known as “the bride” among locals, Mt. Kazbek is Georgia’s 3rd tallest summit, piercing through the clouds at 5054 meters high.

 

As an outdoorsy type of person, there’s so much for you to do and explore in Kazbegi. Kazbegi is home to some of Georgia’s most stunning landscapes. Truso valley, Gveleti waterfall, Gregeti glacier high, Gregeti Trinity church, and Snotskali are among the most spectacular landmarks to visit during your stay in Kazbegi.

 

So put on your hiking shoes, and let’s start exploring.

 

  • Gregeti Trinity Church: one of the most striking sights in Kazbegi is the view of the ancient Gregeti church standing in solitude on top of a green peak, with Mt. Kazbek towering behind and the town stretching below. This epic site is a 1.5-hr hike from Kazbegi town. You can either climb the steep trail uphill or crisscross the gentle track through the forest. At the end of the walk, you are awarded an iconic view of the Caucasus Mountains.

 

Gveleti Falls

 

 

  • Gveleti Waterfall: there’s a relatively short hike taking you to a waterfall hidden up a narrow gorge. The trail passes through various small waterfalls and pools of water surrounded by vegetation.

 

  • Truso Valley hiking: this is a relatively straightforward hike, and to be honest, it doesn’t require much effort, but the reward is immense. Located southwest of Kazbegi, the trek takes you through beautiful mineral lakes, trickling rivers, green meadows, abandoned settlements, and the ruins of the Zakagori fortress. The 21 km long trail is primarily flat and will take 6-8 hours to complete. Just make sure you take plenty of food and water and are appropriately clothed. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can spend the night at Truso camping cabins.

 

  • Great glacier hike: compared to Truso valley, this is a more challenging hike. To reach the great glacier, you need to take the trail beyond Gregeti church, ascending more than 1600 meters up. The 21 km return hike will take an average of 10 hours to complete. The path is relatively straightforward and well-marked. It will take you through green meadows and over a raging river. At the glacier, you will get panoramic views of Mt. Kazbek and the surrounding mountains. There are no shops or camping spots along the trail, so make sure you have plenty of food and water with you. You also need appropriate tools and clothing; the weather in the mountains can change very quickly.

 

 

A few tips on Kazbegi:

As mentioned before, Kazbegi is a favorite among nature lovers, both locals, and tourists. So, accommodation is not something you should worry about. However, if you are looking for a peaceful stay, we recommend avoiding traveling to the region in the summer.

Also, suppose time is not a worry. In that case, you can stop on your way from Tbilisi to Kazbegi and explore the Ananuri fortress. This well-preserved medieval fortress used to serve as an important military stronghold since the 13th century. There’s also the quint Russian-Georgian Friendship monument sitting on top of a green hill. The cylinder-shaped memorial was erected in 1983 to celebrate the bicentennial of the Georgievsk treaty. The monument is ornate with murals depicting Georgian-Russian history.

 

 

2- Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park

 

 

Does the name Borjomi ring familiar? You’ve probably seen it printed on mineral water bottles!

 

Borjomi is Georgia’s most famous health spa resort celebrated for its healing properties throughout history. The region has also gained global fame thanks to its geothermal spring mineral water. And at the heart of this region rests the Borjomi national park. Located 160 km east of Tbilisi, Borjomi-Kharaguali National park is Georgia’s largest national park. Here, you can enjoy a host of recreational activities such as hiking, horse-riding, birdwatching, cross-country skiing, and spa retreats.

 

Rich in natural landscapes, historical monuments, and mineral springs, Borjomi is home to various animal species. Hiking through the park, you will discover diverse geographical and ecological zones. You will come across ancient monuments scattered across the park, and you will experience scenic views and breathtaking landscapes.

 

Whether you’re a casual hiker or an advanced trekker ready for a fun challenge, the park’s tracks are designed to meet every need. The various trails will take you through Borjomi park’s ancient woodlands, alpine meadows, and mountainous landscapes. The National Park Information trail offers an easy hike. The 3 Km path will take you to the St. Nino church and spa resorts. There are picnic areas arranged along the way where you can relax and enjoy the stunning nature.

 

 

Mariamtsmind Church

 

 

If you are looking for a long but relatively easy hike, you can take the Footprint trail. The 13 km trail starts at Likani river valley and ends at Kvabishevi valley. The walk will take you through scenic valleys, fields of wildflowers, and historical monuments such as the Mariamtsmind Church.

 

The Nikoloz Romanov trail is a 3-4 day trek that you can complete on foot and horseback. The track starts at Likani River, taking you through Lomismta Mountain, Lomi St. Giorgi Church, where you will get scenic views of the Mountains.

 

St. Andrews trail in Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park
St. Andrews trail in Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park

 

 

The most Challenging trek is the St. Andrew trail. A 4-day 54km journey taking you through mixed forests, alpine meadows, mountain slopes, and up Mount Sametskhvario, where you will get breathtaking views of the Lesser Caucasus.

 

There are various shelters and camping sites arranged along the trails where you can spend the night. You just have to remember to have enough food and water and the appropriate gear based on your chosen route.

 

 

3- Vashlovani National Park

 

 

Traveling through Georgia, you are probably used to seeing green valleys, rolling hills, gigantic mountains, and snow-capped peaks. So, how about a change of scenery?  Located in the southeast part of Georgia is the spectacular Vashlovani National Park. Vashlovani is home to more than 150 bird and mammal species and various native plants with its dry, semi-arid climate.

 

Vashlovani has a very different vibe compared to the rest of Georgia. The mountainous green landscape gives way to stunning desert hills, deep valleys, narrow canyons, and bubbling mud volcanos. Unlike most national parks in Georgia, Vashlovani is not easy on the legs. To explore most of its various landmarks and stunning scenery, you require a 4x4WD.

 

Before starting your journey to Vashlovani, there are a few points to keep in mind. Firstly, you can spend the night in Vashlovani national park if you wish to. However, there are no tourist shelters available at the park. So, make sure you have all the required equipment for outdoor camping. You also need plenty of fuel, food, and water as there are no shops in the area. Secondly, Vashlovani is a vast area to explore. Some of its stunning landmarks, such as Mijniskura, are located close to the Azerbaijani border. To reach these regions of the park, you need special permits for yourself and your car. So, make sure you have your passport and necessary documents with you. One last thing, Vashlovani has a hot and dry climate, so you should stay clear of the park in the summertime.

 

Khornabuji Castle

 

 

Now, back to the things you can see and explore Vashlovani National Park. You can start your journey with an easy hike on the 16 km loop trail, which begins from Visitor Center and takes you to Eagle Gorge. Here you can get a fantastic view of the limestone cliffs and tree-filled. The path also takes you up a steep hill to visit the ruins of the 5th century Khornabuji Fortress. Here, you can get a stunning view of the valley below and the jagged cliffs surrounding it.

 

From the gorge, you can drive to the East of Vashlovani, where all the significant landmarks are. As you move further east, you can see the landscape shifting. There are two routes you can take; the southwest track will take you to Pantishara Valley. Here you can enjoy a walk around the beautiful bear canyon. You can enjoy the stunning views of Alesilebi, where millions of years of wind and rain erosions have created extraordinary rock formations.

 

 

 

You can also follow the southeast route to Mijniskura, where a green, tree-studded valley is waiting for you. Here you can camp at Alzani River, which essentially forms the Georgian-Azerbaijani border. You can enjoy the views of the calm river with backdrops of Azerbaijani mountains overlooking the flat green plains.

 

Driving 52 km from the visitor center, you will arrive at another stunning Vashlovani landmark. The Takhti-Tehpa volcanos are a cluster of mud volcanos scattered around in various sizes, bubbling away to the surface, creating all manners of shapes on the cracked surface of the ground. You can also visit the Elia Monastery on your way to the mud volcanos. A 6th-century monastery tucked away on top of a rocky hill on the dusty plains.

 

So, if you are looking for an adventure that is different from what you have already experienced in Georgia, make sure to include Vashlovani National Park in your itinerary.

 

 

4- The Black Rock Lake

 

 

 

One of Georgia’s most stunning natural sites, the Black rock lake, is located in Logodekhi National Park in Northeastern Georgia. Logodekhi is easily accessible from Tbilisi via bus and Taxi. The small border town is a 2.5-hr drive from the capital. The lake is tucked away high in the mountains and demands a 2-3 day hike.

 

The 38 km loop trail takes you through open lush forests, up steep slopes, and across alpine meadows. The track is easy to follow; it is well-maintained and marked with signs telling you how far you are from the lake or the shelters.

 

 

The first leg of the trek will take you through the steep, dense forest to the Meteo shelter, where you can spend the night. You can see the yellow hut with its red roof peeking through the trees once you reach the top of the hill. The shelter is quite basic, with two rooms and 16 beds in total. Here, you can get magnificent views of the forest and the valley below.

 

What’s fascinating about Logodekhi National Park is its diverse ecosystem. As you start your ascend from the Mateo shelter, the scenery immediately shifts. You have a 12 km trek through alpine meadows dotted with wildflowers. You will come across springs and trickling streams flowing through the picturesque fields. Here you can get spectacular views of the mountains in Azerbaijan.

 

 

Taking the curve around the hillside, you will arrive at the lake. The view of the sparkling blue lake, surrounded by the towering mountains, is truly spectacular. Georgia and Russia share the lake, so remember to stay at the Georgian side of the lake at all times. After spending enough time taking in the scenery, you can either return or continue your hike to Demidovi Shelter, where you can spend the night.

 

When organizing your trip to Black Rock Lake, make sure you have enough food and water with you. You also need your passport and ID if you want to hike beyond the Meteo shelter. It is best to travel to the lake during the summer season. In the rainy season, the path becomes muddy and slippery, making hiking difficult.

 

 

5- Abudelauri Lakes

 

 

On the far north-eastern region of the Caucasus Mountains and the gorge of Abudelauri River lie three stunning colourful lakes. The Abudelauri lakes are the perfect getaway, especially if you’re pressed for time but still want to experience Georgia’s marvelous nature. Two trails lead up to the lakes. The first is a short scenic trek starting from Roshka village 120 km north of Tbilisi. There’s a longer 2-day hike via the Juta-Abudelauri trail. You can choose the tracks depending on the time and the effort you want to put into the journey.

 

The hike will take you through beautiful landscapes to gorgeous colourful lakes with snow-capped mountains in the backdrop.  Abudelauri consists of three lakes named after their colour; the Blue, the Green, and the White lakes. Hiking northwest along the gorge of Abudelauri River, you will arrive at the Green and Blue lakes. The stunning sight of the enchanting colourful lakes surrounded by blooming meadows and rising mountains will take your breath away. The blue and green lakes are only a 10-minute walk from each other. The white lake, however, is located 2 km further west at the foot of Chivkhi massif. From here, the hike gets a bit challenging, with the path becoming rocky and steep. So, make sure you have the right hiking equipment with you. The view of the white lake is just as magnificent. Here you will get stunning views of the Chivkhi Mountains and Abudelauri glacier.

 

 

The lakes are a perfect picnic spot where you can relax and further explore the stunning Abudelauri valley. You can also stay the night at the lakes if you wish. Just remember, there are no camping sites available. It is also best to visit the lake in June and July when the weather is good, and the lakes are full of water.

 

 

6- Tobavarchkhili Lake

 

Tobavarchkhili Lake

 

 

Tobavarchkhili means silver in the Georgian language. It refers to a collection of large and small alpine lakes tucked away in the Egrisi mountain range. To reach Tobavarchkhili, you will have to follow one of Georgia’s most spectacular mountain paths. The trail will take you across roaring rivers and through leafy forests, alpine meadows, and snowy glaciers. The journey is a long one and requires some preparation and adequate equipment. The 45 km trail takes an average of 5 days to complete, and it is taken in groups with an experienced guide in toe. Make sure you pack everything you need for an extended camping trip.

 

Various routes take you to Tobavarchkhili Lake, but the Mukhuri and Khaishi trails are the most scenic. You will start your journey with a 330 km trip from Tbilisi to Mukhuri. From Mukhuri, you will take a 3-hr truck drive to the alpine zone. From here, you will start your hike along the Khobistskali River. You will follow dirt trails up to the forests and through green meadows. You will spend the nights in shepherd’s huts and tents, camping among the trees and the mountains.

 

 

 

It is an excellent opportunity to reconnect with nature, encounter rare wildlife, become familiar with the Georgian nomadic way of life, and indulge in rural Georgian cuisine. Throughout the trek, you will come across the spectacular landscape and shifting ecosystems.

 

Arriving at Tobavarchkhili, you will be enchanted with the glimmering blue lake, surrounded by open fields and rugged mountains. You can take a dip in the clear blue water, explore the surrounding areas, and enjoy panoramic views of the lake. Make sure you don’t miss the sun setting over the lake, it’s pink, purple, and orange hues hitting the surrounding mountains.

 

It is best to travel to Tobavarchkhili Lake from mid-June to mid-September when the weather is good, and the trek will be less challenging. It will be the ultimate summer adventure and a memorable experience.

 

 

7- Georgia’s Stunning Canyons

 

Visiting Kutaisi, you have the perfect opportunity to explore some of Georgia’s most stunning canyons. You can plan various day trips to some of the country’s most enchanting natural landmarks.

 

 

Okatse Canyon

 

 

Okatse is located in the village of Gordi, 50 km north of Kutaisi. You can follow a 6 km trail from the town, which will take you through the beautiful Dadiani forests to the canyon. Arriving at Okatse Canyon checkpoint, you will continue your trek on the 780-meter hanging trail, which takes you through the 3-6 meter wide canyon, carved out by Okatse river erosions. You can step onto an extended 20-meter platform hanging over the canyon at the end of the route. The stunning panoramic view of the canyon, the sound of the roaring river raging beneath, and the feeling of being suspended mid-air make Okatse an exhilarating experience. Walking off the platform, you can take a 645-meter long stone-paved path down the canyon to Okatse River. At the bottom of the canyon, you can enjoy the stunning views of the towering cliffs and the roaring river.

 

Okatse Canyon

 

Not far from Okatse Canyon is the famous Prometheus cave. This 11 km long cave, with its 22 halls, was discovered in 1985. Currently, only 1060 meters of the cave, along with 6 halls, are open to visitors. You can take a boat tour or walk around the neon-lit cave, enjoying the beautiful rock formations.

 

Dashbashi Canyon

 

 

Situated 45 km out of Kutaisi is the beautiful Dashbashi canyon. Carved by the river Khrami, the canyon stands 1,500 meters high and 8 km long. Here, you can get amazing views of the valleys, the lush green landscapes, and cascading waterfalls. You either enjoy scenic views of the canyon from up top or climb down a rocky path to get to the waterfall. The hike is relatively easy; it only gets steep in some parts, requiring more effort.

 

 

Climbing up a few big rocks, you can get closer to the waterfall. You can feel tiny droplets hitting your face as the waterfall cascades down the rocks into a pool of green emerald. It is a perfect picnic spot where you can relax and enjoy the captivating scenery. Just remember, the canyon becomes very crowded during weekends. So if you’re planning for a day of peace and tranquility, it is best to visit Dashbashi on a weekday.

 

Martvili Canyon

 

 

What was once a bathing place for the Dadiani noble family has become one of Georgia’s most famous tourist destinations! Located in the village of Inchkhuri, 45 km outside Kutaisi, a 700 m loop hiking trail will take you to Martvili Canyon. The trail passes through Dadiani’s historic walkway, over 2 bridges, and down the 30-step historic staircase.

 

 

You can take a 300-meter raft trip down the turquoise stream, taking in the beauty of the Abasha River, its waterfalls, and the towering cliff formations. You also have the chance to go swimming and diving in deeper parts of the river. You can also visit the beautiful Martvili Monastery sitting on top of a hill. The church was initially built in the 7th century and was reconstructed in the 10th century after being invaded and destroyed.