The wealth and beauty of Georgia lies in it natural diversity.With its high plateau,ever-changing weather,mysterious lakes and shadowy landscapes South Georgian region of Javakheti does not look like any other part of Georgia.Its long winters and short summers make it a harsh place to live in but a very beautiful one too.

This fantastic landscapes were created by volcanic eruptions millions of Years ago.The highest mountain in this area-Didi Abuli(3300m) still displays a crater ridge.The lava poured from it has blocked the valley and led to the creation of the Paravani lake-the largest water reservoir of the country.Around it,one can find traces of prehistoric settlements everywhere.The surrounding area of the Paravani lake is full of rudimentary tools made from obsidian(volcanic glass).The function of local cyclopean stone walls-Georgian “Stonehenge” is uncertain-were these enormous rocks refuges or were they meant for ritual or residential purposes?One thing is for sure:When you walk up towards the Shaori fortress ,on basalt stairs between gigantic rocks you feel something old,archaic,and a sort of reverence for the visible and invisible part while impressive megaliths of a village of Saro look like a scene from “Game of Thrones” or even more- a surreal sketch from Stephen King’s stories.

This is what Javakheti is like-it generates reverence in you,making you meditate and return in the depths of your conscience.

An old Georgian  ballad was created on the shore of the Paravani lake,it is about an enamored young man,who decided to swim across the lake in order to prove his feelings to his beloved,”Paravanian boy loved a girl from Aspari…”but a large amount of water was separating them.

The poem’s hero decided to go on the forbidden road in the name of love and he transgressed the border that was imposed to him..This is an eternal motif and almost always a tragic one,naturally,the young man’s self-sacrificial transgression costs him his life..

Javakheti is a region where you can almost literally touch the history of Georgia’s last centuries-the Akhalkalaki fortress destroyed during the Russo-Turkish war,or substitution of ethnicities characteristic of empires,like the Muslim Georgians sent to Turkey and the Christian Armenians who were brought to replace them,as well as Dukhobor villages…

Javakheti is a real paradise for nature and wildlife lovers,there is a unique sub-alpine forest near Kartsakhi lake with white birches,Caucasian mountain-ash,cotoneaster and raspberry and dog rose bushes.The unique character of this unique forest “island” lies in the fact that it is the only natural forest that remains in Javakheti.The rest of them were cut down in the 19th century,and during Soviet times,artificial lines of pines were planted in order to replace them.

Spring is particularly impressive here-it is a feast of nature’s renewal,with cranes performing their nuptial dances on the Sulda and Madatapa swamps.White and Dalmatian pelicans,many species of ducks and herons,coots and whistlers,snipes,yellow-headed wagtails,the very rare Radde’s accentor …this is only an incomplete list of the birds that any naturalist would be happy to see.The sounds you can hear at swamps and lakes that are rich in birdlife look like no other.These are mysterious sounds-the exhalations of the waters groan as if they were coming fromthe depths of Earth,the flapping sounds of coot’s wings,the cry of seagulls,the chatter of storks…

Night has its sounds too and Javakheti has its own “ruler” at night.Its hunting call can be heard almost everywhere on the volcanic plateau,and if you are lucky enough to observe the bird’s robust silhouette and large ears on a cliff lit by moonlight or resting on an electronic pole,know that it is a horned owl-the finest among nocturnal bird of preys.

One could not not say that tourism is currently booming in Javakheti and the guests of the region are people who get pleasure from observing nature and free roaming wildlife.You will encounter people with binocular or bird-watching telescopes walking in the Madatafa,Tabatskuri,Saghamo,Khanchali,Kartsakhi and burdasheni forests and who can not hide their awe for what they see in Javakheti as well as those who take short tours to experience off the beaten paths and see something unique and different

   Every national park has its personality.You just have to find one that is right for you.Due to diverse landscapes, national parks are home to a plethora of wildlife that any animal-loving person will especially appreciate. Parks are also home to historical trails and ancient archaeological sites and while too many  vacations are filled with technology and inactivity ,visiting a national park will give you a much-needed break from electronics. Not only will the variety of outdoor activities be good for your mental health, but it will keep everyone physically active, too. 

  This time I decided to write about one of the natural wonders of Georgia-Vashlovani national park and its beautiful habitants-gazelles.

 Exploring Vashlovani National Park can be one of the unforgettable lifetime experiences for  adventurous,nature-loving travelers who are passionate about wilderness and thrilling emotions. Combination of 4 W/D,horse-riding and trekking options in the park make it possible to visit different sectors of the area and have a chance to catch a glimpse of these beautiful animals.

Charismatic, freedom-loving and mysterious, gazelles are fairly called one of the fastest and nicest animals in the world. They have always taken a special place in literature, art and folklore in many cultures since ancient times. In different periods of history gazelles were worshiped as sacred animals, their antlers were placed around special pagan altars or kept at home as symbols of fertility and rebirth.

According to scientists, remnants of fossilized gazelles in the Caucasus region are at least two million years old. Goitered gazelle(Gazella Subgutturosa)-the only antelope species recorded in Georgia was one of the wide-spread mammals in semi-arid steppe zones of southeastern Georgia  in the 19th. century but hunting and poaching as well as extensive exploitation of semi-arid valleys of  south Georgia led to the almost total extinction of this species in the mid 20th century.

Vashlovani Area
Haunting Wilderness

As a part of the restoration of the biological diversity in Georgia, reintroduction of gazelles in south frontiers of Georgia started in 2013 when gazelles brought from Azerbaijan and Turkey were released in Vashlovani National Park and since then several gazelles were born in wild nature.

The gazelles peacefully share Juniper and pistachio arid light woodlands, semi-deserts and dry steppes of Vashlovani National Park with a rich community of carnivores including bears, lynxes, leopards, wild cats, jackals and wolves.

Established in 1935,Vashlovani National Park is situated some 2,5 hr. drive  from Tbilisi.The park is famous for its breathtaking landscapes with black earth steppes, grassy hills, loamy gullies and badlands, semi-deserts and savannahs as well as Alazani valley with its flood plains, limestone-origin gorges, mud volcanoes and pistachio forests striking you with serenity and tranquility.

Vashlovani Landscapes

The park is a real paradise for bird-lovers, ideal for spring bird-watching, mostly famous from vultures, eagles, black storks, bustards and many many others.

 

Many paths and trails of the park make it also possible to enjoy trekking and even horse-riding adventures here seeing some of the rare plants,wild orchids and if you are lucky enough,you may have a chance to catch a glimpse of gazelles jumping over horizon’s verge.

Gazelles in Vashlovani