Rebecca is an experienced traveller who has lived in Georgia since October 2020. She is still finding her feet as an outdoor enthusiast.
Visiting Borjomi as a Novice Hiker
Borjomi, located in central Georgia, is a popular destination. A trip there is not complete without exploring the landscape. For the experienced among us, opportunities for hiking, rafting and off-roading abound, but what about those of us who are just starting out in this wonderful world of adventure? Fortunately there are some hikes suitable for the novice hiker. In this article, I will tell you about three hikes that can be done in less than a day and are suitable for beginners.
1. National Park Information Trail at Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park
This is the shortest route within the National Park and makes for a brilliant half-day hike. The trail begins at the administration building ("A" on the map below) which is about a 30-minute walk out of town along the main road. It is not a tiring walk, but you may want to arrange a lift to save your legs.
Visitors to the Park are usually required to obtain a permit from the administration building. However, at the time of our visit the office was closed due to the national lockdown and one-day hikes were allowed without a permit.
About the Trail
The entrance to the trail is a wooden archway that is clearly marked to the side of the building. The first part of the trail is reasonably steep, but there is a clear walkway with handrails. Take your time: once you are past this ascent, the rest of the trail is pretty gentle and is definitely worth the climb.
If you are a bird lover, make sure to bring your binoculars. The sheer amount of birds in the forest is incredible! We spent hours listening to and looking for the many little birds who call the forest home. Here is an excellent website listing the many bird species you can see.
This trail was open and ice-free when we visited in February.
2. Borjomi Plateau
Directly above Borjomi Central Park is an area called Borjomi Plateau. There is a trail up to the plateau which is very pleasant, and then a couple of ways down depending on your confidence and experience level.
Starting from Borjomi Central Park, the route up to the plateau begins just inside the gates, on the left. The climb is gradual and the paths are easy underfoot. Once you reach the top, you will have a nice view of Borjomi. Follow the road past the cable car station and the Ferris wheel. If you are not confident walking downhill, or the conditions are bad, you can choose to follow this road back down to the town. Returning the way you came up is also a good option.
If you feel confident, and I recommend this route because the scenery is stunning, you can walk across the plateau, down past the sulphur baths and back through the park. This route will take you through beautiful forests, past a monastery and along the river.
The path from the forest down to the sulphur baths is a little steep but the surface is not too difficult to walk on. Once you reach the baths, the route back is flat and easy. However, there are areas of the path that do not get any sunlight, so if you are visiting in winter there is likely to be ice on the path. I would advise caution in choosing this path in winter, as you cannot tell if there will be ice until you find it.
The trail was open but definitely not ice-free when we visited in February.
3. Hike to Gogia's Fortress
I'm not sure this qualifies as a hike, as it is almost entirely within the town, but it is a pleasant enough walk that only takes an hour or so. The fortress itself is not much to write home about, but the view is pleasant and it makes for a nice peaceful spot for a picnic on a sunny day.
From Borjomi Palace Hotel, cross the river and head for the main road. At the Borjomi Municipality building, head up the hill. I recommend visiting the little bakery at the bottom of the hill to buy one of their delicious pastries. We tried the chicken pie and the lobiani with ham which were both delicious. The walk up the hill is pretty straightforward, through a residential area and then you will see a sign on the right-hand side that says 'historical monument'. There is a fairly steep climb up here, but there is a handrail. At the top, you will find the fortress and a small sign detailing its surprisingly interesting history.
This walk was open and ice-free when we visited in February.
General Tips for Hiking in Borjomi
Even on a short hike, it's always a good idea to let someone know where you are going and what time you expect to be back. Make sure you have a map (paper or digital) and a fully-charged phone just in case. Plan your hike so that you have plenty of time to get back before it gets dark. In the valley especially, the sun can disappear quickly.
Opportunities to buy provisions along the way are limited, even more so since the lockdown, so make sure you have water and energy-dense snacks in case you need a boost.
Suitable footwear is essential no matter what level of adventure you choose to undertake. Choose something comfortable with a sturdy sole for handling any uneven surfaces. Wear layers so that you can adapt to temperature changes. If you are not confident on slopes, I would recommend hiking poles or some kind of walking stick for support. This would be especially helpful in winter when conditions may be more challenging.
© 2021 R L Blackmore