Tours of Vashlovani protected areas
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
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.
There are many national parks and protected areas in Georgia, each unique and with great commitment to preservation of nature. None can match Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park in importance however. As a member of PAN Parks, it is a wildlife reserve that applies the highest standards of protection and sustainable development of tourism.
The neigbouring regions of Tusheti and Khevsureti are situated in the north-eastern end of Georgia. They are bordered by Daghestan to the east, Chechnya to the north, and Kakheti to the south. These regions are punctuated by the peaks of the Greater Caucasus range, carved asunder by numerous gorges, the waters from which flow into two major rivers: the Pirikiti Alazani and Gometsari Alazani. They are separated by the Makratela watershed and merge near the village of Shenako where they leave Georgia and, as the single Andis Koisu, flow into Daghestan and down to the Caspian Sea.
Lagodekhi Protected Areas are located in the most north-eastern part of Georgia. They include the Lagodekhi Strict Nature Reserve and Lagodekhi Managed Nature Reserve along the southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus range. The protected areas lie between 400-3500 m above sea level.
Mtirala National Park is located in Adjara. Mtirala mountain is located between the Black Sea and the Adjarian mountain range on the watershed of the Chakvistskali and Koraghitskali rivers. These mountains intercept the humid air from the Black Sea and determine Adjara's climate. Generally, Adjara is rich in atmospheric precipitation but Mount Mtirala, with a height of 1381 m, has the highest rainfall (4520 mm) making it the wettest site in all Georgia. This also explains the name Mtirala which means ‘the weeping one’.