Tbilisi National Park
Tbilisi National Park established on the basis of Saguramo Strict Nature Reserve in 1957, is included in the Green Zone of the city. The Park is located at a distance of 25 km from Tbilisi. The purpose is to manage and maintenance protection of the forest habitants among them the rare species such as Caucasian Red deer and lynx.
Situated near the two important cities of Georgia – Mtskheta and Tbilisi, the area of Tbilisi National Park covers 24328 ha. It is belonged to the moderate humid climate zone. The winter is moderate cold and summer is long here. The amount of annual atmospheric precipitation is 523-720 mm. The annual air temperature in January is -0.5 °C and in August +24,1°C. Geomorphologically the territory is a rugged region with numerous mountains, slopes and gorges. The highest point is located at 1385 m above sea level.
In the territories of Tbilisi National Park the plants are rather diverse. 675 species of grass and wood plants can be found here, among them 104 species are of trees and shrubs. The dendroflora of the Park is interesting due to widespread representatives of Colchis flora of Tertiary period, such as: Black Sea holly (Ilex colchica), Persian ivy (Hedera colchica) and Pastuchov's ivy (Hedera pastuchowii), European cranberry bush (Viburnum opulus), Butcher's Broom (Ruscus ponticus), yew (Taxus baccata), Caucasian rhododendron (Rhododendron caucasica), et al. The territory of Tbilisi National Park is represented by the forest ecosystems of Georgian oak, Oriental beech, Caucasian hornbeam, ordinary ash-trees, and Oriental hornbeam and crabapple trees.
The fauna of Tbilisi National Park is quite rich. Among mammals the most widespread species are Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and Grey wolf (Canis lupus). Beech marten (Martes foina) and weasel (Mustela nivalis) can be found nearly everywhere. Among the large beasts of prey lynx (Lynx lynx) and Brown bear (Ursus arctos) are rare.
The territory of Tbilisi National Park is distinguished with considerable diversity of representatives of fauna. Here can be found the animals such as: Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), hare (Lepus europaeus), Beech marten (Martes foina), et al. Grey wolf (Canis lupus), Brown bear (Ursus arctos), Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and lynx (Lynx lynx) can be also found there.
There are numerous Roe deer among ungulate animals. Early the Saguramo Strict Nature Reserve was famous with Caucasian Red deer (Cervus elaphus).
Ornithic fauna of this place is diverse. Eurasian jay, Blackbird and several species of woodpeckers can be often found there. Among the birds of prey the most numerous is Sparrowhawk and among the Georgia’s Red List species the following can be found there: Imperial eagle (Aquila heliaca), Greater spotted eagle (Aquila clanga) and Levant sparrow hawk (Accipiter brevipes).
12 species of reptiles inhabit the Tbilisi National Park; the most widespread is European Legless Lizard. Grass snakes are also numerous. Yellow-bellied racer and Smooth snake are common to be seen in the Park.
Tbilisi National Park directly borders with the masterpiece of Georgian architecture of the 6th century – the Jvari monastery of Mtskheta, from where the breathtaking view of Mtskheta and entire environment is opened. From Jvari the archeological excavations carried out in Bagineti range could be seen on the other side of the Mtkvari River. These are the remains of palace of Pitiakhshis (supervisors of Mtskheta) of Armazi, antique baths and Pagan idols, the idols, which were demolished by St. Nino, who brought Christianity to Georgia; and after several centuries the domed temple of Jvari was built in high mountain on the opposite side of the place as a sign of victory of Christianity over the Paganism. Mtskheta is very rich in archeological and cultural monuments.
There are numerous monuments of exceptionally importance in Mtskheta and its surroundings, which are under the protection of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); these are the Svetitskhoveli cathedral temple of 11th century, Samtavro church of the same period, monastery complex of Shio Mghvime of 6th century and Jvari monastery. All of Mtskheta is a small city-museum and it hosts to numerous Georgian and foreign guests every day.
The territory of Tbilisi National Park is very interesting by viewpoint of tourism. Cultural tourism is well-developed both in Mtskheta and Tbilisi – the cities rich in multiethnic and historical monuments. Saguramo, as a part of the Tbilisi National Park, has great potential for development of ecological, botanical and bird-watching tourism.
Visitors can experience the stunning variety of blossoming plants and breathtaking views via parks wide network of 4 trails.
#1. Big Viewpoint Trail
Length: 10 km; Surface: only few meters on asphalt, rest of the road is dirt road;
Difficulty: Easy, ideal for beginner around River Gldanula
The trail starts from the central starting point, follows the old road that has not been functioning since 1974 and goes uphill. The road continues toward Didveli, located 3.5 km from the central starting point. In 200 m from here there is a crossroad 1/A, which descends toward Gldani bridge.
After passing Village Gldani the road continues straight toward the so-called iron cross, from where there is a beautiful panoramic view of Tbilisi. Then the trail descends near Gldani Bridge and goes along left bank of the River Gldaniskhevi. After passing 3 km from the bridge, it is necessary to cross the river Gldaniskhevi in order to end the circular route.
Medium Loop Length: 38 km; Surface: 8 km asphalt, 30 km dirt road;
Difficulty: medium, for those who are capable of going uphill.
The loop starts from the central starting point and on a medium difficulty, uphill goes toward Tskhvarichamia Village. The first 8 km of the road from the starting point, which is the territory of Tbilisi National Park old administration building, until Lelubani turn coincides with the main highway of Tbilisi-Tianeti. Near Lelubani turn, where there is a sign, the asphalt is replaced with a dirt road and the bike route turns right.
From Lelubani turn, the medium difficulty 4.5 km uphill goes toward the first overpass. In 1 km from the turn, we come across a crossroad: on the right, on the village road in a few meters there are ruins of St. George Church and there is a spring nearby. From Lelubani turn, the medium difficulty 4.5 km uphill goes toward the first overpass.
The height of the overpass is 1460 m and the trail goes downhill from here. After passing 3 km from the highest point of the trail, it ends up at a small hay field called Shvindadzes from where you can see the Ialno Range and Martkopi Monastery. The next 2.5 km is downhill again, followed by 1 km medium difficulty uphill leading toward fifth century monastery of Martkopi. You can find picnic tables and water here. From the road of Village Norio, panoramic views of Tbilisi open up.
After passing 5 km downhill from the monastery, the trail reaches the northern part of Village Norio (last 1 km is a medium difficulty uphill). From here, 6 km trail turns right and with a difficult uphill goes toward the top of Mamkoda Mountain.
On the way, there is a crossroad, the right side of which descends toward Village Lelubani. (Do not turn here). After passing 1.5 km straight there is one more crossroad and here as well, withouth turning the trail continues straight uphill toward Mamkoda mountaintop. There is water sign in 200 m from the crossroad. After passing 300 m from the sign, you will come across a spring.
The height of the overpass is 1,460m and from the top of Mamkoda Mountain, you can see beautiful views of Tbilisi. There are picnic tables here and you can take rest. From Mamkoda the trail leads straight to the Mamkoda Monastery. We come across a crossroad. On the right side, after passing 50 m there is Mamkoda Monastery, where it is possible to take rest and get drinking water. While on the left side, the trail goes downhill, toward the starting point. On this section, we come across yet another crossroad and from here, the route leads back to Mamkoda Mountain. The downhill flattens near Gldaniskhevi River and after crossing it the trail ends where it started.
Mamkoda Zedazeni Path starts at the village Mamkoda, goes through Vejini Valley towards Didveli (1440 meters), where one can enjoy panoramic views. From Didveli, trek continues to Saguramo Mountain Range, where Zedazeni Monastery (6-8th c.c.) is located. One will see the Jvari Monastery, Mtkvari and Aragvi river valleys, and the snowy peaks of the Greater Caucasus Mountains in the distance. The path is marked. The last destination of the trek is the village Saguramo.