Borjomi-Kharagauli is one of the largest national parks in Europe, it consists of 6 administrative units: Borjomi, Kharagauli, Khashuri, Akhaltsikhe, Abastumani and Bagdati. The park area is huge – it is 85,050 hectares, which is equal approximately to 1% of the entire territory of Georgia. Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park is the first parк of this kind and scale in the Caucasus region. It was established in 1995 with the assistance of WWF and the German government and officially opened in 2001.
The history of protected areas dates back to the Middle Ages. At first, these lands served mainly as hunting grounds for kings and local princes. When Georgia lost its independence and became part of the Russian Empire, in 1862, the brother of the emperor Mikhail Romanov was appointed as the king in the South Caucasus. Since he fell in love with the picturesque Borjomi Gorge, he decided to build a summer residence there. In 1871, the Russian emperor Alexander II officially handed over to his brother’s possession the entire Borjomi Gorge. Soon Mikhail Romanov officially banned deforestation and hunting in these lands, thus setting the foundation for the future creation of the first national park in the Caucasus region. The spa resort of Borjomi, which is part of the National Park, has become one of the symbols of Georgia thanks to its famous mineral springs and evergreen forests.
With a variety of geographical and ecological zones, rich flora and fauna, the park attracts both fans of rest in the bosom of the wild nature, and supporters of educational and scientific tourism. It is noteworthy that the tourist season lasts all year round – it allows visitors to experience the stunning diversity of flora and fauna in all seasons: in the spring to enjoy the fragrant flowering of alpine meadows, or go hiking through the ancient Colchis woods in autumn, enjoying the dizzying scenery. Most of the mountain forests are preserved in pristine condition. A number of endemic and relict plant varieties, as well as rare species of animals can be found in the Borjomi-Kharagauli forests. Among the rarest species of animals are the lynx and the Caucasian red deer listed in the Red Book of Georgia.
Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park has the best tourist infrastructure. There are 11 hiking trails of varying difficulty. All trails are marked and well organized: there are picnic places, guesthouses, campgrounds, campfire sites along the routes. Park Administration offers hiking, horseback riding, cycling, cultural and educational tours. In addition to natural wonders, the surrounding villages are rich in medieval monuments, traditional handicraft production and of course legendary hospitality of the locals.