The Observer

Published in Georgia - Social interactions and entertainment - 11 Oct 2018 07:42 - 4

Unmatched in its mountain scenery, undeterred by its tumultuous past, the nation of Georgia is now seriously on the up, attracting travelers from both Europe and Asia (continents it straddles neatly on the Caucasus Mountains) and touting everything from the snow-tipped peaks of Svaneti to shimmering beaches on the Black Sea. Here, we take a look at the spots every visitor to Georgia should be sure to have on their bucket list. Enjoy. (Part 2)

See first article Part 1

6. Mestia
Shrouded by the snow-mantled peaks of the Greater Caucasus Mountains, deep in the legendary lands of Svaneti, the various hamlets and dabas (small historic towns) of Mestia rarely fail to draw a gasp. They are instantly recognisable thanks to their stone-clad, square-cut Svan towers, which rise majestically from between the groves of chestnut and birch here, oozing with centuries of Georgian history and culture. Today, this ancient cluster of UNESCO-tagged villages is really on the up, with a new airport bringing new guesthouses and more and more people weaving between the striking architectural pieces of Lekhtagi and Lagami (two of the most attractive small centres). Others come to hit the Chalaadi glacier and hike the trails to mive Mountain Ushba in the distance.

7. Gudauri
Set more than 2,000 meters above the low valleys that carve their way through the heart of the Greater Caucasus range on the edge of northern Georgia, Gudauri has risen and risen in recent years to establish itself as the country’s prime winter sports destination and also a fine alternative to the bustling ski fields of the Alps. Skiers and boarders here enjoy a relatively snow-sure set of pistes that range from 22 kilometers of blue beginner runs to a welcome 10 kilometers of challenging black runs. What’s more, the season runs well into April and new investments mean the lifts are all speedy Doppelmayr ones. The resort is also hailed as one of the world centres for Heliskiing – if that’s your sort of thing!

8. Lake Ritsa
First-time travelers to Georgia could be forgiven for thinking that the shimmering waters of Lake Ritsa, set deep in a valley of the Caucasus Mountains and surrounded by verdant dashes of buxus and Nordman firs, had been plucked straight from the Austrian Alps or the Rockies of British Columbia. But no, this picture-perfect alpine retreat between the mountains of Abkhazia (a separatist section of the country that buts up to the Black Sea in the north-west) really is in Georgia. The lake and the surrounding forests are great for hikers looking to delve into one of the less-trodden natural reaches here, while boating and wild swimming in the icy waters are also favourite pastimes.

9. Telavi
The kingpin of the Georgian east makes its home between the sloping foothills of the Tsiv-Gombori. Boasting a history of more than 2,000 years, Telavi was shaped by the Romans, the Kakheti kings, the Georgian monarchs and the Russian tsars alike. That means a unique array of architectural pieces to discover, going from the formidable bulwarks of the Dzveli Galavani, left over from the region’s dynastic rulers in the 9th century, to the Batonis Tsikhe, a testimony to the late medieval period that blossomed here. Other travelers will wonder at the 45-meter high sycamore tree, whose sinewy 900-year-old trunk really is a sight to behold, and the Alaverdi Monastery, sat between the mountains just on the edge of the town.

10. Stepantsminda
The icy tendrils and muscular ridges of Mount Kazbek dominate the horizon around breathtaking Stepantsminda; a town at once remote and wild that can be found nestled deep between the Caucasus ridges in Mtskheta-Mtianeti. Along the mifs of Kazbek just above the city, it’s possible to spy out the glistening caps of the Kuru and Shino glaciers, two of the natural wonders that have helped to catapult Stepantsminda to the forefront of Georgia’s ecotourist and adventure travel boom. Expect hiking opportunities aplenty, along with a whole host of other adrenaline-pumping pursuits, from hang-gliding over the tips of the great Holy Trinity Church to rafting and rock climbing.

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Comments (4)

georgia is beautyful Laugh
Good Job
but turks are coming...