Our last stop in Turkey saw us driving back into the mountains – one last effort to do some hiking in Turkey. But, alas, it was snowing. The area was really beautiful, reminiscent of Swiss Alps, but too cold to do anything. We had planned to camp up there for the night but the forecast was for minus 5 degrees, and we just couldn’t face it.
So we headed for the coast and the Georgian Border.
The border crossing looked like a real shemozzle, long long queues of trucks, but we got through in 45 minutes with friendly Georgian officers welcoming us to Georgia as though they meant it.
First stop the lovely city of Batumi. We booked into a family run guest house/hotel and enjoyed hot showers everyday. They even did 2 huge loads of washing for us for a mere 8 euros. The room was about 22 euros a night.
The city is a mix of lovely pre-soviet era buildings, most tastefully renovated, grim soviet style apartment blocks and new glass monstrosities. The city centre was really lovely though, with wide tree lined streets, parks and beautiful buildings.
The coast sported a well used boardwalk and good cafes serving good, cheap food and wine. Plus the sun was shining. We were very happy!!
Next stop was a wetland area (Kolkheti National Park) to look for some birds. The spring migration was over but we took a boat trip (in a tinny!) and saw a White Tailed Sea Eagle and an Osprey who really showed off for us.
Heading further north into the ancient Svaneti area, we took an exciting, beautiful road to Mestia. The road was full of landslips and rock-falls due to heavy recent rain. Luckily none were happening as we drove.
We camped in Boris at a guest house where we were extremely well fed for a very cheap price – details below. The first night we had dinner with some hilarious Ukrainians, who were happy to share their white wine straight from a 10 litre plastic bottle…
|Svaneti towers where the locals would hide from marauding neighbours.|
Our planned route south again was blocked by snow so we had to return via the same route – oh well.
Next stop Kutaisi, not a town to get excited about but we camped in a hotel ground. More like a park with a pond. Lovely!
From here on in I’m going to put some detail of places we stayed, camped etc for those considering a similar trip. We’ve found other peoples blogs to be extremely helpful in this regard and are happy to add our two cent’s worth.
For those not considering such a crazy journey, you can ignore that bit!
Currently we are in the Lesser Caucasus camped in a beautiful National Park. It was sunny yesterday when we arrived, so we whipped out the BBQ and chilled the wine. We managed a great walk this morning before the worst of the rain. Lawrence was really hoping to see a Lammergeier Vulture as he hasn’t ever managed to do so. (Neither have I, but feel my life is complete nevertheless.) Neither did we see any of the 90 Brown Bears that allegedly live here. Apparently there is a whole lot of interesting wildlife here but you must venture right into the park, and camp out etc. to see it.
Next we are heading into Armenia before returning to Georgia.
Tips For Would-be Travellers.
First up, the driving in Georgia is crazy. They seem such friendly, helpful people to meet, but turn in to suicidal maniacs when they get behind the wheel. Drive cautiously and give way to everyone. They’ll pass you at great speed on a blind bend and then stop in front of you to turn off or chat to friend. You have been warned.
We stayed in a small family run hotel. It was very cheap and clean, and street parking was fairly easy and free. They also did our washing.
Name: Dzveli Batumi (but the sign outside says ‘Old Batumi Hotel’).
Address: Kostava 24. We found it easily by GPS.
Once again we stayed in a guest house, but parked in the yard and slept in our camper. We ate breakfast and dinner in the Guest house – good food and cheap. Nino speaks some English and is very helpful. Cost 100 lari for 2 nights including meals and hot showers. There is a washing machine.
Name: Nino Ratiani Guesthouse
It’s on the main road into town before you get to the main square, on the right-hand side.
Don’t drive up here during heavy rain as landslips and rock-falls are very common and some of those rocks were BIG. The onward road past Ushguli was still blocked by snow in late April.
We camped in a hotel ground, which was lovely. Hotel Imeri Park is on the main road in from the south, on the right-hand-side, behind a gas station. They were quite happy for us to camp by the pond (full of noisy frogs) for 2 nights. 15 lari per night. It was a really nice place to camp. Taxi into town was about 5 lari.
Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park
We camped in the National Park near the refuge. First you must go to the Visitors Centre just outside Borjomi on the road to the park (right-hand side) to register and pay. They will give you a map and instructions. It’s a beautiful area and well worth visiting
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for any more details.
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