We drove in to Georgia on the 2nd of July. Crossing the border, at Kemalpasa, was easy with the help of a friendly officer who spoke just enough English. It was very busy though, mainly with trucks. One of the first things we noticed in this country were the many beautiful houses. They are mostly made of wood and are richly decorated.
We drove on to Batumi, a friendly but chaotic city at the black sea. Here we got internet, cash and a paper road map, albeit not a very detailed one. We always get a bit of a weird look if we ask for an old fashioned paper road map and they are not easy to come by any more. But a good detailed road map is still better than google maps and we don’t always have internet. The satnav only shows a part of the area. To plan our route it is helpful to have an overview of the country. We mark all the area’s we want to visit on the map and then plan our route. The shopping done, we drove out of the city, which wasn’t easy, traffic being even more challenging compared to Turkey, which is saying something… We managed to find a nice place near the river Chorokhi to relax and to plan our route. It was quite warm so we stayed in the shade as much as possible and every now and then went in to the water for a cool down.
We decided our first stop would be Martvili canyon, which is apparently the nicest one in Georgia. We admired the canyon from above and then hiked down to a part just behind the most narrow part. Most people hire a boat to explore this narrow part. But after having seen it from above, we decided not to. It is a very short boat ride and we weren’t that impressed with what we had seen. The part that is accessible by foot also offered the opportunity to swim. So we took the time to relax and away from the crowd, Binkie had a good time too. We drove on to the waterfall at Zhuzhghis river. We hiked all the way to the waterfall. But you can also drive a big part of the path and that is what most Georgians did. Why walk when you can drive? We also had a bite to eat and here we found out that Georgia is a bit more expensive than Turkey. Not what we had expected. This is true for most everything that has to do with tourists, but also for some more regular items, like toiletries.
We left the area and on our way to Svaneti we happened to find a great campsite. Secluded, lots of shadow, next to a small river, good internet and lots of bushes and trees for Binkie. So we stayed here for 3 days. We enjoyed the weather, had a nice bbq, did some laundry and went swimming.
Our next stop was the Svaneti area. Absolutely gorgeous as you can see for yourself here. After Svaneti we drove on to Kutaisi where we did some shopping, visited the city and went to a garage to get the bushings of the leaf spring replaced, the dust cover of the right front drive shaft, and the dustcover including a steering rod on the right side. All that off roading does create some wear and tear.
It was now really hot, 40°C in the shade. So instead of driving on we stayed in one place with a bit of shade for a couple of days. Unfortunately there wasn’t any water in the area and the campsite wasn’t that great. But we made do and used our shower to cool down a bit. It was so warm that Binkie had a tough time too and our solar panels couldn’t keep up with the energy use of the fridge, so the alarm for a low battery went off in the middle of the night. We just did nothing all day but sit quietly and read. A bit boring and we were glad when the temperature dropped and we could drive on to Borjomi national park.
This park is known for its biodiversity. But perhaps after the incredible beauty of Svaneti, we had expected a bit more. It is a big area, mostly covered in pine forest. There are a few small rivers as well. We walked the black route which had a steep uphill climb and a steep descend as well. At the top you could see a bit of the surroundings, but that was it. The rest was nothing but dense pine forrest. We also visited the town Borjomi which does have a very nice park with all sorts of entertainment like a mini roller coaster and lots of places to eat. You can also sample the mineral water, which is supposed to be very healthy but doesn’t taste good.
We drove up to the nearby Kahisi lake where we spend two days and Kilian went for a bike ride. The lake and it’s surroundings are beautiful. A mixed forest with lots of beautiful flowers, ferns and meadows. This area is not a national park, but as far as we are concerned more worth a visit!
We spend the last few days of July in Tbilisi. The capital of Georgia. A fun city with a nice atmosphere, relaxed and with lots of shops and cafes. To make the city visit relaxed and enjoyable we spend two nights in a hotel in the old town. We could park the car there safely and it also meant Binkie could relax in a room with air-conditioning instead of spending the days in his backpack being dragged around a city he obviously has no interest in. Our room had a balcony with stairs leading down in to a small walled courtyard so Binkie got to explore these areas. This was probably the best time he had in a city 🙂 We visited all the famous sights; Freedom square, the bridge of peace, the dry bridge market, Narikala fortress, Fabrika and the clock tower of the marionet theatre.
After Tbilisi we drove on to the Kazbegi mountains. We will tell you more about that in our August blog.