Alternative tourism in Georgia
18 August, 2018
Alternative tourism in Georgia
Alternative tourism is the opposite of mass organized tourism. Georgia is a perfect destination for the alternative tourism and is well known for its diverse nature and plentiful supply of alternative tourist services. It is mostly attractive to travellers interested in rafting, hiking, skiing, mountaineering, climbing, diving, horse-riding, etc.

Rafting with inflatable boats down a river through the mountains is a great experience and adventure. At the same time, part of the excitement is the challenge. Rafting in Georgia is an
enjoyable and fun activity. Many adventurous and nature travellers like to try this out type of exploration by water. As a rule, rafting is conducted in the mountain rivers, where the participants face various kinds of obstacles. These very obstacles make rafting especially attractive. For risk reduction it is very important to use some special equipment.
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Rafting is a popular activity among Georgians and tourists in summer. Photo courtesy: calendar.ge

There are five rivers in Georgia that will quench your rafting desire. Among the most popular routes are Pshavi’s Aragvi River , Mtkvari River near Borjomi and Mtiuleti’s Aragvi.

Pshavis Aragvi River – it is about 70km away from Tbilisi. The rafting route is 15km and the tours usually start from Magharoskari – at Kopala temple. The time taken to complete the 15km raft is approximately one and half hours.

Mtkvari River near Borjomi - there are two options as to the starting point – in spring (April, May), the village of Kvabiskhevi, and after June when the water level decreases – at Chitakhevi dam. Accordingly the lengths of the routes are: 12 km and 8 km. The tour ends in Borjomi. Rafting on the Mtkvari River at Borjomi costs Gel 35.00 pp. The rates include service and training by an instructor, rafting jackets, helmets, shoes. Each raft accommodates 6 persons and an instructor.

Rafting on the Mtiuleti’s Aragvi - this white water rafting trip leads you to the Aragvi River near Pasanauri. The travellers can see the 17th century Ananuri Fortress. The monument encloses two churches which are surrounded by a fortification. The landscapes are diverse, and the views of the fortress – spectacular!

Svaneti is one of the distinctive regions for hiking in Georgia, 33 hiking trails are marked in the regions Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti and Racha-Lechkhumi – Qvemo Svaneti. More than 60 hiking trails have been created. The overall length of marked trails is 722 kilometers.
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Georgian mountains, including Svaneti, are perfect for hiking. Photo courtesy: tikatours.com

Trek, which connects Mestia, the center of Svaneti with the remote mountain village of Ushguli is the most popular trek in Georgia and for a good reason - it offers great natural and historical sights, is accessible and not that long. Another advantage is the possibility to sleeping every night in villages so you do not need a tent.

The Omalo and Shatili hiking route is also very popular. It is dotted with not only natural sights but also by several ancient fortresses and villages, dominated by stone towers. The highlight of the trek is a crossing of the 3413 m high Atsunta pass.

The Caucasus Mountains in Georgia are a true paradise for adventurers. While spring, summer and autumn are best for hiking excursions, wine tasting, and relaxing on the beach, winter is the best for skiing and snowboarding. The mountain sides are covered with heavy snow, and the first-class resorts in Georgia are ready to welcome visitors to the various slopes and runs.
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Gudauri in winter is full of tourists and visitors. Photo courtesy: allnews.ge

In the list of the best ski resorts in Georgia, is Gudauri which is top with 3.2 out of 5 stars. The largest ski resorts offer up to 33 kilometres of slopes (Gudauri). Skiers of all levels can find remarkable opportunities for slalom, giant slalom, downhill skiing, and even the world famous heliskiing, for those who love to indulge in extreme challenges.

The slopes are accessible via several platter lifts, chairlifts, and a cabin lift. The base lift here is situated over 2,200 meters above sea level, and the top lift is at 3,285 meters. Large amounts of natural snow on the surrounding peaks of the resort, make an ideal place for powder enthusiasts.

Mountains in Georgia also allow travellers to test out their climbing skills. Katskhi is one of the most popular and best places to climb in Georgia. The Katskhi pillar is a natural limestone monolith located in the village of Katskhi in the western Georgian region of Imereti, near the town of Chiatura. It is approximately 40 metres (130 ft) high, and overlooks the small river valley of Katskhura. The best time to climb is from September to July. August is a hot season for climbing but in shade or cloudy weather it is also a pleasure to climb. The quality of the rock is perfect for different types of climbing. Your equipment should include a 60 m rope and 15 quickdraws.
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Climbing is becoming more and more popular activity in Georgia. Photo courtesy: grandrespect.com

Ice climbing in Gveleti, situated near Stepantsminda, is also one of the best places for this activity. The best time for climbing is January, February and the beginning of March if there is cold weather.

Svaneti is also an appropriate destination for climbing. The best time for climbing is at the end of summer, or the beginning of Autumn. The climbing area is located 10km from the center and is easy to get there by hitchhiking. All lines are bolted and have top chains. You need max 70m rope, helmet and 15 quiqdraws. Near the rock climbing area there is a cafe and drinking water.

Chiatura is also one of the most prestigious places to climb in Georgia. On these rocks in the 70s and 80s there held the Soviet Union championships. Chiatura is located 180 km from the capital Tbilisi. By car, you will need approximately 2 hours to get there.

Diving – There are several places in Georgia for diving.. It is usually popular in Batumi. They offer various types of diving, such as:

- Scuba Diving in the Black Sea: Batumi Dolphinarium (Diving with Dolphins).
- Kvariati Ship Wrecks where you can find old items (an amphora, a jug, an anchor or remains of old courts),

- Diving in the brand new area of Anaklia and lakes around of Georgia (Altitude Diving) and Cave Diving in Tskaltubo (Prometheus) Caves near Kutaisi that offer two siphons to dive in.
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Divers holding the flag of Georgia. Photo courtesy: sazogadoeba.ge

Thanks to its geographical landscape a variety of horse-riding tours can be organized in Georgia. You can travel on horseback in the different regions of the Great Caucasus mountains (Svaneti, Mtiuleti, Khevi, Khevsureti, Tusheti), but riding in Tusheti is truly an unbelievable experience. You reach the remote areas of the country, enjoy spectacular scenery, stone built houses and pyramid towers.
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Horse riders often hold different types of competitions. Photo courtesy: sportall.ge

Horse riding tours are also carried out on tourist routes around Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park, which is one of the largest national parks in Europe. The surroundings of Borjomi are characterized by unique and diverse nature. Most of the territory of the region is mountainous and covered with forests. There are many mineral water springs, which have specific and unique health giving properties.

First photo courtesy: Georgia_turebi.ge

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