Georgia, walking and adventure

**WALKING, CLIMBING, ADVENTURE in Georgia

There is no better place to experience the rugged natural beauty of nature than Georgia. Our country stands out as among the world’s top twelve for landscape diversity, yet is no larger than Ireland. In this alone we are unique. Swim in the balmy waters of the Black Sea and look up at snow capped peaks, only half a day’s drive away. Stride through some of the most dramatic mountain scenery in Europe; hang-glide off a high-Caucasus cliff-side; white-water raft down wild rivers; mountain-climb the most diverse range of mountains in Europe; rock-climb superb peaks that seem to be tailor-made; bike along paths where your tread-marks are the first.
For the hiker and adventure seeker - we have you covered…
Walking and Trekking
**For mountain-walking through unspoilt landscape, it is safe to say Europe has no better venue than Georgia. Not only are our mountains the highest, they are the least developed and, we would say proudly, the most beautiful. Furthermore directions are rarely a problem as our hillsides are crisscrossed by numerous pathways - maintained over the centuries by locals dedicated to looking after their cattle. Walks come at all levels, from the easy - along lush river valleys, past ancient stone towers and castles; to the breath-taking on high altitude paths, offering stupendous views of the magnificent snowy Caucasus, sometimes even up onto glaciers and the eternal snows themselves. Walking in the presence of grand snowy peaks is truly invigorating – the more so due to its originality.
While walking in Georgia do not be surprised to encounter more varieties of animals, birds and flowers than in any European country. In the spring hillsides become carpets of flowers; valleys filled with the perfume of azalea. Georgia has three endemic birds - which are not hard to spot in several of the high mountain areas - like Kazbegi or Svaneti. It also has a number of very rare animals, including the splendid Western Caucasian tur with its uniquely curled horns - usually seen very high (around 4000 metres) but nowhere else on earth.
To the South, the Lesser Caucasus impresses hikers no less with high plateaus, beautiful lakes and stunning views of the Greater Caucasus stretching across the horizon in a jagged white line. Georgian tourist companies offer a large selection of walking tours - lasting from one day to three weeks, always in the company of cheerful guides and unforgettable scenery. Independent tourists are also very welcome and always find themselves made welcome by local people.
**Horse Riding
**Just about anywhere you can walk in Georgia, you can ride - and many other places besides. Canter across the high plateau of southern Georgia; step admiringly over the high passes in Khevsureti or Tusheti and camp in the remotest, most idyllic of places; trek unburdened by luggage through wooded valleys to hot springs; ride along spectacular ridges looking out at snowy peaks and glaciers… Georgia has it all.
Whether following the bridal paths of shady green forests, traversing lofty mountain passes or trotting across alpine meadows, the horse is perfectly suited for Caucasian exploration. For thousands of years it has carried people to places beyond the limits of today’s sturdiest 4x4s. Its ecological status is impeccable and is still the main mode of transportation in the higher mountain villages.
**Mountaineering
**With some of the highest and most spectacular peaks in Europe - twelve are higher than Mt Blanc - the Caucasus are drawing more and more climbers, and at every grade. From the breathtaking flanks of Mt Ushba (4710m), which offers some of the most technical routes in Europe, to the majestic white pyramid of Mt Tetnuldi (4974 metres) Georgia is veritable climber’s haven. Go for gold and take on the full 5033 metres of Mt Kazbek; or rock-climb the easier and elegant Chaukhi mountain nearby. For the very serious there is always Svaneti and Georgia’s highest mountain, Mt Shkhara (5068 metres); but be prepared to know when you’re beaten!
**Mountain Biking
**With so many fabulous mountains and well established paths, Georgia is a perfect venue for the mountain bike, and at every level of accomplishment. Race along high ridges or amble down elegant valleys; the choice is limitless.
**Rafting
**Georgia is full of wild rivers that pour down from the 5000 metre peaks. Many offer superb white water opportunities and safely organised tours are now well developed.
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Caving and canyoning.
**Long known for its caves - at Tsalktubo, the Kalichona grotto and Sataplia - Georgia is a gift for the caver, especially those wishing to break new ground. The sport of canyoning is new in Georgia - but a couple of routes have just been charted with numerous others waiting to be found.
**Paragliding
**Georgia offers great opportunity for paragliding. As a nation of high cliffs, hot sun, and icy peaks, the opportunities to catch a thermal second to none. However only a few venues have been explored so far, so a lot of exciting pioneer-work awaits the paragliding enthusiast.
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4x4 Adventure
**The 4x4 vehicle opens up the full beauty and drama of Georgia like no other. With a relatively low mileage between completely contrasting landscapes - deserts, sea coast, subtropics, tea plantations, high mountains – the selection of adventures flashing past the open-windows are an inspiration to every member of the family.
**Bird Watching
**With its 360 species of birds set in an area the size of Ireland, Georgia is a bird-watcher’s dream. Principal migration routes through the high Caucasus passes and along the Black Sea corridor provide superb viewing opportunities, and in stunning settings. Bird watching is a relatively new phenomenon in the Caucasus, so the visitor not only sees some fabulous birds but also helps break new ground.
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Places
Kazbegi region
**Dominated by the 5033 metre extinct volcano of Mt Kazbek, the mountains and valleys that surround this classic route through the Caucasus are a walker’s and adventure-tourist’s playground. Views are stupendous from just about anywhere. Birdwatchers will be hard-pressed to improve on this valley for raptors and Georgia’s endemic species.
**Gudauri
**At only one and a half hours drive from Georgia’s capital, the ski resort of Gudauri provides some of the finest low-mountain walks, rides or treks in the summer. Or simply sit and take in the fabulous view.
**Svaneti
**Nowhere in Europe is more dramatic than Svaneti. A princedom of glaciers, snowy peaks, ancient stone towers and frescoed churches, mostly 12th century. Walk, climb, ride, or just visit the museums. Here is something for everyone.
**Khevsureti/Tusheti
**One of the classic walks/rides in the Caucasus is from Khevsureti, up over the pass to Tusheti. There is no road, only horse tracks. Pass ancient stone villages, watch-towers, waterfalls, small lakes and the most hospitable and friendly of local villagers.
**Borjomi
**Gateway to the southern Caucasus, the Borjomi/Kharagauli National Park is a well-marked haven for walkers and riders. Small, tourist cabins dot this superb lower-altitude National Park at convenient day’s hike distances. Walk through deep forest and suddenly emerge on a ridge top with the entire high Caucasus spread across the horizon
For more information, Georgian Tourist Board : www.georgia.travel