Tours of Vashlovani protected areas

Tours of Vashlovani protected areas

Information

Duraition: Eco-trails passing duration of 5 hours to 2 days
Price: 0 USD / per person

VASHLOVANI NATIONAL PARK

 

Vashlovani Protected Areas consist of Vashlovani Nature Reserve, Vashlovani National Park and three Natural Monuments (Eagle Gorge, Takhti-Tepa mud volcanoes and Kaklisquri Alazani flood plain forest).  It is bordered to the east by the Alazani River and also benefits from the nearby Iori River to the south. The water cuts a deep, beautiful canyon known as the ‘sharp walls’ through limestone cliffs which rise to 150 m.

 

The park extends over an area of 35 053 ha of desert and semi-desert vegetation and dry forests as well as the Alazani flood plains and forests.  Nearby rivers are of great importance to all life forms in the area.  By the banks herons, cormorants, garganey duck, mallard and red duck, osprey, and sea eagles thrive. The rivers hold various catfish, carp, pike, perch, shemaya, barbel, Caucasian herring and other fish, adding up to 16 species.

 

The name Vashlovani--meaning ‘full of apples’--points not to the presence of this fruit

but rather to the wild pistachio trees (Pistacea mutica) that are so abundant they remind one of an orchard. The foothills are covered with oak and ash groves mixed with maple and elm. Smaller woody plants include barberry, Jerusalem thorn, smoke tree and pea shrub. Underfoot large expanses of bluestem feather grass coat the arid steppe.

 

Juma Bay and Mijna Bay--in the flood plain of the Alazani--are the only places in Georgia where walnut trees (Juglans regia) grow wild, alongside floodplain oak (Quercus pedunculata), poplars (P. nigra, P. canescens), and ash (Fraxinus excelsior). Pomegranate (Punica granatum), peony (Paeonia maiko), wild grape (Vitis sylvestris) and other rare plants have a safe home here.  Notable among about 700 botanical species are seven species of orchid, Iris iberica and Eichler’s tulip.

 

Among the 46 species of mammals the larger ones are jackal (Canis aureus), red fox (Vulpes vulpes), hare (Lepus europiacus), wolf (Canis lupus), lynx, jungle cat (Felis Chaus), Indian porcupine (Hystrix indicus) and, surprisingly for a semi-desert, the occasional brown bear (Ursus arctos).  In late 2003 a Persian leopard (Panthera pardus ciscaucasica) was seen in Vashlovani and NACRES scientists were excited to be able

to photograph this very rare, endangered animal.  It was given the name Noah and its image has become the symbol  of the park.  It was sighted again by park rangers in

2008.

 

Birds are counted by the thousands. Flocks of blackbirds and starlings may darken the sky.  Small birds of the plains nest here:  sparrows, wheatears, gold- and other finches. The little bustard is seen more often than the great bustard as they overwinter in the park. Overhead raptors wheel and soar:  the imperial eagle (Aquila heliaca), black vulture (Aegypius monachus), griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus), marsh harrier (Circus aeroginosus) and several kinds of buzzard.  Chukar partridge and pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) populate not only the flood plains but also Georgian folk song! Among the rare birds a black francolin may whirr away at your approach.  Great colonies of swallows nest in ‘cities’ in cavities in the steep clay slopes.

 

 

Of the 25 species of reptiles the most visible are the Greek tortoise (Testudo graeca), Schneider's skink, Caucasian agama, Caucasian sand boa, boa constrictor, four-lined snake, grass snake and Levantine viper.

 

Note: Price depends on type of accommodation and number of persons.

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