Javakheti National Park
Javakheti National Park was established in 2011 between Akhalkalaki and Ninotsminda municipalities, Samtskhe-Javakheti region, Georgia, along the border with Armenia and Turkey. It is a mountain grassland area distinguished with lakes, unique swamps, subalpine and alpine meadows. The park occupies 16,209 hectares, which harbors unique volcanic mountains, grassland steppe, sub alpine meadows and lakes on the Javakheti Plateau: the biggest Lake ParaVani, Khanchali, Bugdasheni, Kartsakhi, Madatapa and Sulda lakes.
Artificial pinery as well as fragments of natural sub alpine forests are sparsely represented here. The biggest sub-alpine forest is in the area of Kartsakh Lake, on Georgia-Turkey border, consisting of Caucasian rowan, white birch-tree, bush of cornel, briar and raspberry bushes.
In the territory of Kartsakh Lake is the biggest natural sub-alpine forest, which consists of white birch-tree, Caucasian rowan, bush of cornel, briar and raspberry. In 2004 a representative of rose family, described in Georgian flora as Dasiphorafruticosa was discovered. This specie can’t be found anywhere else in Georgia.
Slopes of the mountains are covered with grasslands, rhododendron bush, volcanic boulders and orchids, such as Dactylorhiza and Orchis,.
Javakheti National Park, being considered as one of Birdlife International’s Bird Areas, actively supports breeding populations of various birds, animals and fish species. Madatapa, Khanchali and Kartsakhi lakes are the habitat of 59 species of birds (white storks, cranes, white pelicans, common snipes, quails, great snipes, and stilts, Armenian gulls, wild geese, coots, whistlers,red and wild, broad-billed and crested ducks, gray ducks, garganeys and common pochards, etc), 12 species of fish (lake trout, European cisco, carp, common carp, etc), 3 amphibian species (Asia Minor frog, lake frog and green toads).
In Javakheti highlands there are 40 species of mammals, among them 10 predators and 2 ungulates. The widespread species include: Marbled polecat (Vormelaperegusna), European hare (Lepuseuropaeus), otter (Lutralutra), badger (Melesmeles), rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), fox (Vulpesvuples) and wolf (Canis lupus)
From endangered species there are 12 species of birds included in Africa-Eurasia Migratory Bird Agreement, 6 species- in the “Red List” of Georgia, 2 species -in IUCN “Red List”,1 species of mammals is included in IUCN “Red List” and in the “Red List” of Georgia. Among them to be noted: Turkish hamster (Mesocricetusbrandti), gray hamster (Cricetulusmigratorius), otter (Lutuslutus) and others.
The highest point of Javakheti is Mount Great Abuli, with a height of 3,300 meters above sea level. Javakheti upland is considered to be the coldest places among settlements, characterized by the dry continental climate, while the average annual temperature is quite low.
The Visitor Center project was successfully implemented by the Georgian National Museum (GNM) and officially opened at the Javakheti National Park on July 30, 2015. It is an educational center, that aims to inform the visitors about the uniqueness of the nature and raises awareness towards the ecological responsibility.
While visiting Javakheti region you can see following historic-cultural monuments:
Akhalkalaki Local Museum– Many ancient calendars that are made of bronze are stored in the museum
Akhalkalaki fortress remains (11th .) – located near Akhalkalaki town.
Vardzia rock-cut Monastery Complex (12-13th cc.) – distance from Akhalkalaki to Vardzia is 40 km (by any means of transport). We can also reach Vardzia through village Apnia, from where we can descend onto Vardzia via beautiful serpentine. Distance from Akhalkalaki to Apnia is 24 km, from Apnia to Vardzia – 3 km.
Medieval Castle of Khertvisi – 25 km away from Akhalkalaki.
Shaori Cyclopean Fortress - a former settlement and fortress in Akhalkalaki municipality, near the village of Parvana.
Abuli Cyclopean Fortress – can be reached with any transport until village Abuli and the distance is 10 km, then 5 km on foot or on a horse. In winter you can use skiis to get there.
Kumurdo Monastery (10th c.) - Distance from Akhalkalaki to village Kumurdo is 10 km. The monastery is located in the centre of the village. There is a beautiful gorge near the edge of the village. If you follow the gorge to the south, after passing 7 km you will reach village Apnia. From Apnia, via the serpentine, you can reach Vardzia .
Samsar rock-cut Monastery (8-9th cc.) – the distance from Akhalkalaki to village Samsar is 22 km. It is advisable to drive a 4-wheeler car to get there.
Satkhe Cyclopean Fortress – if you go from Tbilisi to Akhalkalaki via Tsalka, arrive in Ninotsminda, near village Satkhe you will find Cyclope Fortress.
Toria Cyclopean Fortress – 12 km from Ninotsminda, above the village, you will find ruins of the fortress. Some walls still remain. There is a place of worship nearby.
Kaurma Bridge (12th c.) – it is located 7 km away from Ninotsminda (length – 170 m. width – 4 m).
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