Many of us, for sure, are familiar with the term “eco-tourism”. But not many have a clear idea of this direction. So let us really discover the interesting world of eco-tourism on the example of Georgia.
Ecotourism in Georgia: Definition
What is ecotourism?
Nowadays issues related to the deterioration of the global environmental conditions, such as climate change, ozone depletion, ecosystem change and threats to biodiversity, pollution, water shortages and the loss and destruction of protected natural areas are relevant more than ever.
Ecotourism provides an effective economic incentive to maintain and improve bio-cultural diversity and helps to protect the natural and cultural heritage of our beautiful planet.
For many developing countries, tourism is one of the main sources of income. By increasing the local capacity and employment, ecotourism promotes greater understanding and appreciation of nature, local culture, and society. In other words, the main goal is to minimize the possible negative aspects of the tourism for the host country.
According to the statistics, since the eighties, there has been a noticeable shift away from the mass tourism to ecotourism, and currently more and more travelers are looking for environmentally friendly places for leisure. Despite the fact that in Georgia, however, as throughout the whole Caucasus region, eco-tourism is a relatively new trend, the country has great potential for development of this type of recreation.
So, if you:
- want to see the ancient pagan sanctuaries and Christian monuments, cave towns and castles, hidden high in the mountains, canyons, unique frescoes in the abandoned monasteries – in a word, thousands of monuments, generously scattered on the ancient land of Georgia;
- want to witness the crystal clear lakes and noisy waterfalls, hidden among the rocks, hear the clatter of the turbulent mountain rivers, drink water from clear springs, feel the scent of blooming mountain slopes;
- are not afraid of long journeys and want to make sure that <Better than mountains can be only mountains>, to practice alpinism, conquering the snowy peaks, or try to “cave tourism”;
- and, finally, if you want to contribute to the preservation of the unique nature and culture – than ecotourism is for you!
Georgia thanks to the rich cultural heritage and a wide range of ecosystems, from subtropical rainforests, mountain steppes to alpine ecosystems, offers a huge potential for the development of various forms of ecotourism.
Georgia is located in the central and western part of the Caucasus region between the Black and Caspian seas. This mountainous country covers 69,700 km2 with a population of 4.7 million, but here can still be found unspoiled areas.
Georgia covers only one-seventh of the Caucasus, however, the region is distinguished by a high level of biodiversity with its unique flora and fauna, landscape diversity – from humid mountainous forests and wetlands to high mountains, alpine ecosystems and deserts. Almost a quarter of terrestrial vertebrates and fish and much more of flowering plants are considered endemic to the Caucasus region: species include 12 amphibians, 54 reptiles, more than 100 mammals and over 370 species of birds.
The country is located right in the 4 climatic zones: along the east coast of the Black Sea and the southern slopes of the Great Caucasus, on the same latitude as Washington DC, northern Greece and northern Spain.
Ecotourism in Georgia: National Parks and major wildlife sanctuaries
Nature of Georgia is under the protection of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries – about 20% of the territory of Georgia are declared as areas to be protected. During the Soviet regime 15 nature reserves with a total area of over 168,000 hectares were based in Georgia: Algeti, Achmeta, Borjomi, Kazbegi and others.
Due to their favorable routes and safe situation right in the heart of Georgia, the national parks have become an ideal place for fans of ecotourism, trekking, for walkers, as well as beloved research destination for botanists, ornithologists and photographers.
Ecotourism in Georgia: the Kingdom of birds
Georgia is a great place for the organization of a bird – watching tour. The diverse landscape of the country provides a unique opportunity to observe the different species in the semi-desert conditions, in the savannas, riparian forests, alpine meadows, glaciers and swamps. 330 bird species are represented in the country, among them, there are critically endangered species, such as the Caucasian black grouse (Tetrao mlokosiewiczi) or Caucasian snow cock (Tetraogallus caucasicus). If desired, you can arrange a tour with qualified ornithologists.
Ecotourism in Georgia: Horseback riding
The mountain villages of Georgia are impossible to imagine without a horse. The Caucasus Mountains are home to such breeds of horses of great endurance and beauty as Kabarda, Tusheti, etc … Horseback riding on the mountain slopes of Georgia is an experience and impression that you will never forget.
There you can meet the local people who speak different dialects, and will be able to personally observe different traditions – a fascinating mix of Christianity with mountainous religions and myths. Throughout your journey, you will enjoy a unique hospitality. In small villages, you can also enjoy the food grown in environmentally friendly conditions: delicate cheeses, juicy fruits, and vegetables as well as delicious homemade wines.