გამარჯობა! Gamardschoba! Hello!
Do those squiggly letters look familiar? Probably not.
That’s because Georgian is not like any other language known to man. It belongs to its own ancient linguistic group.
Only Georgians speak Georgian but this doesn’t stop them from creating a hospitable reputation. The fact that the earliest remnants of winemaking 8,000 years ago have been discovered in Georgia might be a factor in Georgians’ friendly nature.
Did you also know that Georgians don’t call their country Georgia nor do they refer to themselves and their language as Georgian? Georgians call their land Sakartvelo, their language Kartuli, and themselves as Kartvelebi.
Situated in the Caucasus region of Eurasia and located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, Georgia is a country rich in its own distinctive traits. It is bordered by the Black Sea to the west, the north by the Caucasus and Russia, the south by Turkey and Armenia, and the east by Azerbaijan making Georgia a strategic location from a geopolitical standpoint. Countless powerful and advanced civilizations flourished in this part of the world in prehistoric times and in antiquity thus giving it an undeniably rich historical past. Despite the fact that Georgia has been under the influence of differing global superpowers, it has retained and protected its cultural heritage from its mouthwatering cuisine to its distinctive forms of art. Georgians do not shy away from celebrating its distinct roots and customs, traditional music especially.
Due to its exceptional geographical location, Georgia is one of the most ecologically diverse places in the world. Notwithstanding its relatively small area, the country has a great number of climatic zones ranging from subtropical to alpine to semi-desert. Its topography boasts an immense number of varying landscapes making it home to an array of species endemic within the country’s borders.
To this day, Georgia remains an underrated tourist destination. Here’s a list of some of Georgia’s outrageously beautiful and varying landscapes that just might convince any traveler with an affinity with the outdoors to add this picturesque country to their bucket list.
Photo Credit: Georgian Tour
Birtvisi is essentially a natural rocky medieval fortress surrounded by strange shaped rocks south of the Georgian capital. It is famed as an impregnable stronghold whose master can control the entire Algeti gorge. It took millenniums for water flowing through the cooled lava to form these rock formations into the canyon it is now today. Not only do you get to bask in history in Birtvisi, you can also enjoy a countless number of physical outdoor activities to challenge the inner knight in you like hiking, climbing, hiking, and swimming.
Photo Credit: Happy Pangaea
Picture a pristine alpine destination just two hours away from Tbilisi. Boasting some of the best views of the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range, Gudauri is a prime ski resort with some of the finest powder in the range. Over the years, it has gained popularity not only for backcountry skiing but also for heliskiing and paragliding. If you’re into all things extreme and very much willing to go the extra length, you’ll be able to escape the crowds in the slopes and experience some unobstructed views of this amazing landscape.
Photo Credit: John Stanmeyer for NatGeo
Ever wondered where the deepest known cave in the entire planet is? It’s in Georgia. Located in the western part of the country in the Arabika Massif within the autonomous region of Abkhazia near the Black Sea, Krubera Cave is 2,197 meters deep. You don’t need to be well versed in speleology to appreciate the magnificence and magnitude of this underground wonder.
Lagodekhi Protected Areas
Photo Credit: Georgia To See
Located on the southern slopes of the Caucasus on the border to Azerbaijan, Lagodekhi Protected Areas is deemed the first nature reserve in Georgia. This large protected land (approximately 94.41 square miles) is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. With plenty of hiking trails, anyone can bask in the magnificence of preserved forests, deep valleys, waterfalls, glacial lakes, and a teeming wildlife. Get ready for spectacular views in this nature-lover paradise.
Photo Credit: Best Travel
Playground to the historical House of Dadiani, the ruling family of the Samegrelo region in the western part of Georgia, Martvili Canyons offer an array of activities amidst a breathtaking landscape. Visitors can opt to take a boat ride or take a dip in an emerald river and stumble upon astonishing waterfalls while hiking through lush forests. You can now live out your fairytale fantasies in a storybook setting!
Photo Credit: Georgian Time
Just less than 10 kilometers from Batumi and on the shoreline of the Black Sea is the small town of Mtsvane Kontskhi (also known as the Green Cape). Visitors can opt to swim or sunbathe in clear waters and beaches of fine stone. For a different setting not too far away, visit the Batumi Botanical Garden, which holds an admirable array of flora and fauna and spectacular views of the seashore. During Soviet times, the garden was further expanded and developed into a principal institution for the study of Caucasian maritime subtropical culture. Enjoy both the blues of the sea and the greens of the forest in Mtsvane Kontskhi.
Photo Credit: Caucasus Trekking
Also known as the Crystal Lake, Tobavarchkhili is known for its clear and transparent waters. Situated in the midst of a mountain range, travelers to the lake can enjoy one of the most beautiful and remote natural landscapes that Georgia has to offer. There are smaller lakes surrounding the main one and countless waterfalls all stunning in their own right. People equipped with the right stamina will be able to enjoy another testament to Georgia’s topographic diversity at 2,650 meters above sea level.
Photo Credit: Caucasus Trekking
Rich in mineral waters and out of this world landscapes, Truso Valley is one of the most spectacular and mystical places in Georgia. No matter what the season, the gorge offers unrelenting beauty. Anyone can hike, bike, and camp amidst an isolated and deserted setting. Travelers will be able to spend days of undisrupted peace and quiet and will surely step out humbled by the immense beauty of this area.
Photo Credit: Caucasus Trekking
Shkhara is the highest point in Georgia and fourth in Europe at a staggering elevation of 5,193 meters. It is located in the central part of the Greater Caucasus in the Svaneti region along the Russian border. The ascent to Shkhara from Georgia offers picturesque views and looks like a scene straight out of Lord of the Rings. Mountaineers, despite embarking on one of the most challenging climbs in Europe, will have the opportunity to go through UNESCO protected villages which are also some of the highest permanent settlements in Europe. Due to its geographical isolation, preserved medieval villages and tower houses will amaze any person traversing this unbelievable landscape.
Vashlovani National Park
Near the border to Azerbaijan is Vashlovani National Park. The place is known as Georgian Africa and is famous for its mud volcanoes. The whole area is characterized by its dry and arid climate and semi-desert wildlife and vegetation. Here, you’ll be able to experience canyons in badland terrain wherein travelers can embark on different activities in an unusual and strange but nonetheless impressive landscape.