Untouched beauty of Javakheti Protected Areas attracts tourists. ჯავახეთის დაცული ტერიტორიების ხელშეუხებელი სილამაზე ტურისტებს იზიდავს

Untouched beauty of Javakheti Protected Areas attracts tourists. ჯავახეთის დაცული ტერიტორიების ხელშეუხებელი სილამაზე ტურისტებს იზიდავს
06 November 2014

Whether you prefer steep mountains or grassy steppes, wide meadows or thick forests, Georgia is the country you should put on your traveler’s bucket list. The country is blessed with diverse natural resources that spread from semi-tropical beaches on the Black Sea coast to the snow-capped Caucasus Mountains. There are numerous regions worth visiting in Georgia, including Samtskhe-Javakheti in the south of the country.

The region carries importance both historically and environmentally. It is considered one of the oldest inhabited territories in Georgia and has numerous archeological sites. It contains preserved remnants of unique Christian architecture as well as environmental diversity. As you enter Javakheti region, you become exposed to culture and traditions of an absolutely different ethnic group from the rest of Georgia. The territory is mostly inhabited by ethnic Armenians, as a result of its proximity to Armenia and a long history of migration. You can learn a lot about the region if you get talking to the locals here, who will invite you to their house and wine and dine you as though you were one of their own.

The region surprises visitors with its varied nature that ranges from the mineral spring waters of Borjomi to the ancient cave city of Vardzia. However, most of the territory still remains undiscovered, in terms of tourism, as only recently has the area appeared on the travel radar. Javakheti Protected Areas are among such seldom visited sites. The protected territories were established in 2011 with the help of the Bank of Germany and WWF Germany, due to the crucial environmental importance of this region. The areas include Kartsakhi Managed Reserve, Sulda Managed Reserve, Khanchali Managed Reserve, Bugdasheni Managed Reserve, Madatapa Managed Reserve as well as Javakheti National Park and are guarded by local park rangers. Their job is to preserve parklands and guard its wildlife from poachers.

“There are less poachers here now than there were before, but still it is a big problem. We warn them at first, saying that if they come again they will face more serious measures,” park rangers said. The rangers relate the poaching problem to the fact that the territories have only just become protected legally and seasoned hunters are not fully aware of what this entails.

“We really hope that by the next year there will be no poachers here,” they added.

Javakheti Protected Areas occupy 16 209 hectares, which include unique volcanic mountains, wide steppes, an abundance of lakes as well as subalpine meadows.

“First of all this area is important because it plays a crucial role in migration of birds, most of which are included in the IUCN Red List. Also, the nature here is endangered, because the region was open to visitors, who used to come here throughout years and destroy the environment,” said Rati Japaridze, the Director of the Agency of Protected Areas.

According to him, protection of these territories also gives ornithologists an opportunity to observe closely various species. There is a bird watching tower right next to Kartsakhi Lake especially for this purpose.

Aside from its value for environmental scientists, Javakheti Protected Areas also offer a wide variety of activities to international tourists and visitors from other regions of Georgia. Those who seek active leisure and enjoy horse-riding can rent horses from the nearby village Sameba for approximately 50 Lari for a day ($29). Moreover,, bicycles and special skis are also available for rent. However, those who prefer a more relaxing vacation can organize a picnic or go camping instead.

“We really hope that this region will attract a lot of national and international tourists in the nearest future,” Japaridze concluded.

There is an abundance of guesthouses in the area, which offer their visitors a cozy atmosphere within their walls for a relatively affordable price (30-40 Lari ($17-23) per night with lunch included).

Overall, Samtskhe-Javakheti is a perfect resort area for those who would like to escape from their day-to-day reality and try out a unique vacation in a remote, largely untouched, part of Georgia. You can find more information about Samtskhe-Javakheti Protected Areas, activities, transportation and accommodation in a special guide called “Javakheti.Sightseeings,” which is available in tour agencies throughout Georgia.

By Ekaterine Tchelidze
Georgia Today