Nature Walks with GCCW

Georgian Center for the Conservation of Wildlife (GCCW) is a Non-Governmental, non-profit, social organization which has been operating since 1994. The mission of the organization is to encourage the conservation of Georgia’s nature and establish the principles of sustainable development in the country for the future generations.

GCCW together with other conservation NGOs in Georgia arose from a moribund governmental system (including the university) that lacks sufficient finance to support conservation research. In the long-term it is not the aim of this conservation NGO to replace government agencies. Rather, GCCW is a stop gap measure to promote conservation within Georgia, and help Georgia meet international commitments to conservation. As effective government agencies are established and funded to appropriate levels, it is envisaged that GCCW will take on a support role, and provide contract expertise.

To fulfil its mission, GCCW is active through three main programs:

1. Education

Encouragement of environmental education and work towards increase of eco-awareness of population - publishing booklets, books, articles, etc.; organizing eco-camps and outdoor seminars for students; filming wildlife and broadcasting a TV series of programs; training interested young conservationists and helping them receive education in advanced foreign institutions in order to raise their professinal level.

2. Conservation

Doing zoological and ecological research in various habitats of Georgia; building a database of Georgia’s fauna; working out suggestions for the protection of various animal species and their habitats; publicizing the idea of protected natural areas and assisting in the management of these areas; participating in legislation-making relating to conservation.

3. Sustainable development

Seeking ways of collaboration with other NGOs as well as with governmental and private organizations; participating in launching a nature-conservative strategy and establishing the principles of sustainable development in Georgia; contributing to the development of eco-tourism.

The GCCW’s long-term strategy and directions of activities are launched by the Council of members and the elected board. The management of the programs are carried out by the executive director, co-director and coordinators of the programs.

So, one of the priorities of GCCW is to help develop national parks system and eco-tourism in Georgia. And to do so, we run nature-based tours that we’ll customize to your expertise and physical ability.

Few experts and bird-lovers pay an attention to Pheasant’s scientific name Fasianus colchicus - Fasis is a river in Georgia and Colchis (Kolkheti) is a region of Georgia where the river flows, and it was the Greek sailors (presumably, Argonauts) who, in the remote past, introduced the bird from the river’s riparian forests into Greece and, later on, throughout Europe.

In Georgia there occur around 360 bird species, of which over 250 different species are breeders. It’s obvious that the ornitho-fauna is exceptionally diverse for such a small country (69 500 Georgia along with the other Caucasian countries lies across a migration corridor, so called "funnel" or "bottle neck" between the Black and Caspian Seas, and it’s due to this funnel that the diversity and numbers of birds in Georgia astoundingly increases during spring and fall migrations. Many of the migrant species that does not breed in Georgia can be found here either throughout the year or for most of the year. This country’s land is shared by species typical of Europe including the Mediterranean region, Central Asia (e.g. Great Rosefinch - Carpodacus rubicilla and White-winged Redstart - Phoenicurus erythrogaster) and the Middle East (e.g. Black Francolin - Francolinus francolinus and Caspian Snowcock - Tetraogallus caspius) as well as of the Caucasus with such indigenous birds as Caucasian Snowcock (Tetraogallus caucasicus), Caucasian Black Grouse (Tetrao mlokosiewiczi) and Caucasian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus lorenzii).

Over the last few years Georgian Center for the Conservation of Wildlife (GCCW) has been one of the few organizations that have been making an update on bird life in Georgia. On the basis of the latest data, GCCW offers bird-watchers and nature-lovers tours in such a small and bird-flooded country as Georgia. Even though the tours focus on birds, our guests will definitely be able to enjoy other representatives of the Georgian wildlife too.


"All Raptors of the Caucasus":

I o r i U p l a n d - K a z b e g i T o u r :

David Gareji and Vashlovani

David Gareji and Vashlovani are parts of a region called Iori Upland (200 - 800m) that lies in the far east of Georgia. The site is mainly structured of Neogene and Quaternary bedrock: conglomerates, sandstone, clay, sand, etc. Its relief is characterized by hills with a lot of gorges which gather into valleys or vanish into plains. The hills are composed of low ridges whose slopes are naturally eroded. This site belongs to an area with the driest climate in Georgia; there are steppes and savanna-like landscapes, arid woodlands and semi-deserts, with abundance of relic and endemic plant species. Vegetation at the site is diverse: most of the site is occupied by the relic Botriochloa and typical Stipa steppes, which are frequently represented by Christ's thorn vegetation; here and there savanna-like woodlands of nettle-tree and xerophitous species of wild pear occur; on the slopes of ridges arid woodlands are created by the relic and rare species of juniper; semi-deserts are represented by Artemisia, Salsola species etc.; in the riparian forests of the rivers Iori and Alazani there grow Tugai type forests dominated by willow and aspen species.

During spring and summer Iori Upland is noted for one of the largest community of breeding birds in the Caucasus. Raptor breeders include lots of Long-legged Buzzards (Buteo rufinus) and Common Kestrels (Falco tinnunculus), along with Black Kites (Milvus migrans), Egyptian Vultures (Neophron percnopterus), Eurasian Black Vultures (Aegypius monachus), Eurasian Griffons (Gyps fulvus), Pallid Harriers (Circus macrourus), Western Marsh Harriers (Circus aeruginosus), Eurasian Sparrowhawks (Accipiter nisus), Northern Goshawks (Accipiter gentilis), European Honey Buzzards (Pernis apivorus), Common Buzzards (Buteo buteo), White-tailed Eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla), Imperial Eagles (Aquila heliaca), Lesser Spotted Eagles (Aquila pomarina), Booted Eagles (Hieraaetus pennatus), Short-toed Snake Eagles (Circaetus gallicus), Lesser Kestrels (Falco naumanni), Eurasian Hobbys (Falco subbuteo), Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus), Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug). Riparian forests and grassland attract Pheasants (Phasianus colchicus), Black Francolins (Francolinus francolinus) and a few pairs of Black Storks (Ciconia nigra). The most typical bird of the region is Chukar (Alectoris chukar). Large numbers of European Bee-eaters (Merops apiaster), European Rollers (Coracias garrulus) and Eurasian Hoopoes (Upupa epops) regularily raise their young in cliffs and steep banks. The stunning list of passerines to be found at Iori Upland includes Calandra Lark (Melanocorypha calandra), Crag Martin (Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Rufous Bush Robin (Cercotrichas galactotes), White-throated Robin (Irania Gutturalis), Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina), Finsch’s Wheatear (Oenanthe finschii), Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka), Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius), Semi-coloured Flycatcher (Ficedula semitorquata), Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus), Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca), Rock Nuthatch (Sitta neumauer), Lesser Grey Shrike (Lanius minor), Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator), Rose-coloured Starling (Sturnus roseus), Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis), Rock Sparrow (Petronia petronia), Black-headed Bunting (Emberiza melanocephala), Ortolan Bunting (Emberiza hortulana) and so on.

Other Fauna / Flora:

Plants endemic to eastern Georgia: Pyrus sachokiana, Ulmus georgica.

Plants endemic to eastern Trans-caucasus*: Pinus eldarica, Berberis iberica, Iris iberica.

Plants from Georgian Red Data Book: Juniperus foetidissima, Pistacia mutica, Celtis caucasica, Punica granatum, etc.

Mammals from Georgian Red Data Book: Gazella subgutturosa (extinct), Hyaena hyaena, felis lynx, Mesocricetus brandti, Sorex raddei.

Reptiles from Georgian Red Data Book: Eumeces schneideri, Eryx jaculus, Elaphe longissima, Pelobates syriacus.

Agama caucasica is the commonest reptile in the site, the species is indigenous to the eastern Trans-caucasus.

Sus scrofa and Ursus arctos also occur in the site. Canis lupus and Canis aureus form sizable populations there.

*Trans-caucasus is a region that lies south of the Greater Caucasus mountain range, including Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia.


Kazbegi district

The district is part of the Greater Caucasus in Georgia. Natural landscapes vary from deep gorges with fast streams and sub-alpine vegetation to high mountain peaks (the highest is over 5000m) with glaciers. Deciduous forests are the dominant ones. Geologically the site is mainly made up of tertiary volcanogenic bedrock - mostly andesites, with the scarce formations of Paleozoic and older granites.

As soon as naturalists step into Kazbegi region, they realize that the kingdom of Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) and Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) has begun. The landscape is complex and hard to walk over, but the more hiking and climbing the better chances to spot Caucasian Snowcock (Tetraogallus caucasicus), Caucasian Black Grouse (Tetrao mlokosiewiczi), Great Rosefinch (Carpodacus rubicilla) and White-winged Redstart (Phoenicurus erythrogaster). Caucasian Chiffchaff (Phyloscopus lorenzii) is quite common and easy to see. Other birds to be seen include Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris), Water Pipit (Anthus spinoletta), Greenish Warbler (Phylloscopus trochiloides), Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Monticola saxatilis), Alpine Accentor (Prunella collaris), Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria), Twite (Carduelis flavirostris), Scarlet Rosefinch (Carpodacus erythrinus), Red-fronted Serin (Serinus pusillus), White-winged Snowfinch (Montifringilla nivalis), as well as Eurasian Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus), Eurasian Griffon (Gyps fulvus), Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) and Chukar (Alectoris chukar).

Other Fauna / Flora:

Plants indigenous to the Caucasus: Betula raddeana, Corylus iberica, Rhododendron caucasicum,

Plants from Georgian Red Data Book: Quercus pedunculiflora, Taxus baccata, Hedera Pastuchovii, Diospyros lotus, Castanea sativa, Juglans regia, Punica granatum, Zelkova carpinifolia, Vitis silvestris, etc.

Mammals indigenous to the Caucasus: Capra cylindricornis.

Mammals from Georgian Red Data Book: Capra aegargus, Felis pardus, Lutra lutra, Felis lynx, Cervus elaphus.

The site is important to Rupicapra rupicapra.

Canis lupus also occur there.


The Best Time to Visit:

15 April to the end of July.

Tour itinerary:

*Day 1: arrival in Tbilisi;

Drive to a hotel, Tbilisi sightseeing, overnight at the hotel

*Day 2: Tbilisi - Davit Gareji;

Drive to Davit Gareji, birdwatching on the way, overnight stay in the

field house of the Institute of Geophysics

*Day 3: Davit Gareji;

Walk and observations around the site, overnight stay in the same


*Day 4: Davit Gareji;

Walk and observations around the site, overnight stay in the same


*Day 5: Davit Gareji;

Walk and observations around the site, overnight stay in the same


*Day 6: Davit Gareji - Vashlovani

Drive to Vashlovani, birdwatching on the way, overnight stay in tents

*Day 7: Vashlovani;

Walk and observations around the site, overnight stay in tents

*Day 8: Vashlovani;

Walk and observations around the site, overnight stay in tents

*Day 9: Vashlovani - Tbilisi;

Drive to Tbilisi, overnight stay at a hotel

*Day 10: Tbilisi - Kazbegi;

Drive to Kazbegi, walk and observations around Gudauri on the way,

overnight stay in a local private house in the town of Kazbegi,

*Day 11: Kazbegi;

Observations and walk up Chkheri Gorge, overnight stay in tents or

natural caves,

*Day 12: Kazbegi;

Observations walk up to and around Sameba Temple, overnight stay

in tents,

*Day 13: Kazbegi;

Drive to and walk up Sno Gorge, overnight stay in tents,

*Day 14: Kazbegi - Tbilisi;

Drive to Tbilisi, bird-watching on the way

*Day 15: departure.



We can replace Kazbegi part of the tour with other mountainous parts of Georgia, Racha or Tusheti

Racha is one of the Georgia’s historical provinces, which nowdays is divided into 2 administrative districts - Ambrolauri (historically, Lower Racha) and Oni (Upper racha). A certain northern area of Oni District is historically called Mountain Racha (1000 - 4461m) including the villages Ghebi, Chiora and Glola. Our tour will take place in Mountain Racha. Racha is more humid than Kazbegi, forests are mostly coniferous, where timberline runs higher, and since great numbers of sheep have never been kept there, alpine meadows look virgin. Birds and wildlife found there are about the same as in Kazbegi. There are access roads around Racha.

Tusheti is one of the historical provinces of Georgia. At present it is included in the Akhmeta district. This province also represents upland (1000 - 4285m). Treeline is mostly created by pine and birch forests. Although historically this province has been the richest in the number of domestic sheep in Georgia, that has obviously caused overgrazing and erosion to some extent, there is still plenty of wildlife thanks to lots of inaccessible areas there. And it is the inaccessibility that vehicular and foot access to the wild of Tusheti is very poor. Birds and other wildlife are much the same as in Kazbegi.


"A Flood of Waterfowl and Migrating Raptors":

J a v a k h e t i P l a t e a u - K o l k h e t i T o u r :

Javakheti Plateau

The plateau is almost void of forests. Altitudes vary between 1500m and 3300m (with altitudes of 1900 - 2100m prevailing). Comparatively dry sub-alpine meadows and mountain steppes are the dominant landscapes. Six large natural lakes and a number of small ones (altogether about 60) are scattered over the high plateau, creating a unique type of treeless, high wetlands. The density of human population is low. The inner part, especially the Samaras Ridge and its surroundings are practically virgin lands. Some dormant volcano mountains stick out of the plateau like huge cones. Vast area around each volcano is strewn with lots of boulders and screes.

In fall the local community of breeding waterfowl and shorebirds enriched with numerous migrants from north of Georgia gives bird-watchers a great opportunity to enjoy observing Red-necked Grebes (Podiceps grisegena), Black-necked Grebes (Podiceps nigricollis), Pygmy Cormorants (Phalacrocorax pygmeus), White Pelicans (Pelecanus onocrotalus), Dalmatian Pelicans (Pelecanus crispus), Squacco Herons (Ardeola ralloides), Great White Egrets (Ardea alba), White Storks (Ciconia ciconia), Black Storks (Ciconia nigra), Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia), Glossy Ibises (Plegadis falcinellus), Lesser White-fronted Geese (Anser erythropus), Ruddy Shelducks (Tadorna ferruginea), Ferruginous Ducks (Aythya nyroca), Cranes (Grus grus), Black-winged Pratincoles (Glareola nordmanni), Marsh Sandpipers (Tringa stagnatilis), Terek Sandpipers (Xenus cinereus), Great Snipes (Gallinago media), Red-necked Phalaropes (Phalaropus lobatus) and many more species of waders, as well as gulls and terns like Great Black-headed Gulls (Larus ichthyaetus), Gull-billed Terns (Sterna nilotica) and White-winged Terns (Chlidonias leucopterus), Citrine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola), etc. Anyone feeling like climbing up the volcanic mountains of Javakheti will be presented with a good chance to see Caspian Snowcock (Tetraogallus caspius), Crimson-winged Finch (Rhodopechys sanguinea) and Radde’s Accentor (Prunella ocularis). Also, on the way to and back from Javakheti (in Meskheti) we’ll be observing raptor migration.

Other Fauna / Flora:

Plants endemic to the site: Scorzonera dzhavakhetica, Scorzonera ketzkhovelii, Scorzonera koslovskyi, Corydalis erdelii, Hypericum thethrobicum, Gladiolus dzhavakheticus.

Plants endemic to Georgia: Senecio massagetovii.

Plants from Georgian Red Data Book: Campanula crispa, Anchonium elichrysifolium, Papaver pseudo-orientale.

Mammals from Georgian Red Data Book: Vormela peregusna, Mesocricetus brandti, Sorex raddei.

Canus lupus forms a good, steady population at the site.


Kolkheti lowland

The lowland is situated in a densely populated region (sea level to 200m), and therefore since the beginning of this century the wildlife including birdlife has been declining dramatically - in particular breeders have been suffering much. It’s an eastern coastal region of the Black Sea that represents wetlands and damp woodlands. Much of the coastline within the lowland is covered with evergreen vegetation. In the southern part of the lowland, the sea surface in the west and the pattern of the Lesser Caucasus mountain range in the east come together to form a bottle neck for raptors migrating each year over the coastline. Wetlands in the lowland also attract numerous waterfowl on migration as well as other birds looking for places with mild winter in order to overwinter.

Each fall thousands of birds of prey soring in thermals migrate through Kolkheti Black Sea coastal region above and around the town of Poti and the lake of Paliastomi. Common Buzzards are the dominant species, but lots of Black Kites (Milvus migrans), European Honey Buzzards (Pernis apivorus), Northern Harriers (Circus cyaneus), Montagu’s Harriers (Circus pygargus), Pallid Harriers (Circus macrourus), Western Marsh Harriers (Circus aeruginosus), Eurasian Sparrowhawks (Accipiter nisus), Levant Sparrowhawks (Accipiter brevipes), Eurasian Hobbys (Falco subbuteo), Common Kestrels (Falco tinnunculus), Red-footed Falcon (Falco vespertinus), Merlins (Falco columbarius), Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), Short-toed Snake Eagles (Circaetus gallicus), Lesser Spotted Eagles (Aquila pomarina), Greater Spotted Eagles (Aquila clanga), Imperial Eagles (Aquila heliaca), Steppe Eagles (Aquila nipalensis), Booted Eagles (Hieraaetus pennatus) and White-tailed Eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla) should be seen as well. Smaller numbers of Northern Goshawks (Accipiter gentilis), Peregrine Falcons (Falco peregrinus), Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) and Rough-legged Buzzards (Buteo lagopus) are regularily sighted. Red Kites (Milvus milvus) pass through casually. Other species to watch for include a good variety of waterfowl and shorebirds as Kolkheti represents wetland.

Other Fauna / Flora:

Plants endemic to the site: Epigaea gaultherioides.

Plants endemic to Georgia: Trapa maleevii.

Plants endemic to the Caucasus: Trapa colchica.

Plants from Georgian Red Data Book: Hymenophyllum tunbridgense, Osmunda regalis, Arbutus andrachne, Laurus nobilis, Nympaea colchica, Nuphar luteum.

Mammals from Georgian Red Data Book: Lutra lutra, Sorex raddei.

Capreolus capreolus, Ursus arctos, and Canus aureus also occur at the site


The Best Time to Visit

September to early October.

Tour itinerary

*Day 1: arrival in Tbilisi;

Drive to a hotel, Tbilisi sight seeing, overnight at the hotel

*Day 2: Tbilisi - Vardzia;

Drive to Vardzia, birdwatching on the way, overnight stay at a local hotel

*Day 3: Vardzia - Ninotsminda;

Drive to Ninotsminda, birdwatching on the way, overnight at a local private house or in tents

*Day 4: Ninotsminda (Lake Khanchali);

Walk and observations around the lake, overnight stay at a local private house or in tents

*Day 5: Ninotsminda - Gorelovka;

Drive to Gorelovka, walk and observations around the Burnasheni Lake, overnight stay at a local

private house or in tents

*Day 6: Gorelovka;

Walk and observations around the Burnasheni Lake, overnight stay at a local private house or in


*Day 7: Gorelovka - Kalinino;

Drive to Kalinino, Walk and observations around the Madatapa Lake, overnight stay at a local

private house or in tents

*Day 8: Kalinino;

Walk and observations around the Madatapa Lake, overnight stay at a local

private house or in tents

*Day 9: Kalinino;

Walk up the mount Madatapa and observations, overnight stay at a local

private house or in tents

*Day 10: Kalinino - Poti;

Drive to Poti, birdwatching on the way, overnight at a hotel

*Day 11: Poti;

Drive to Khidmagala Fish Ponds and observations, overnight at a hotel

*Day 12: Poti;

Drive to Paliastomi Lake and observations, overnight at a hotel

*Day 13: Poti - Tbilisi;

Drive to Tbilisi, birdwatching on the way, overnight at a hotel in Tbilisi

*Day 14: Tbilisi sightseeing;

Tbilisi sightseeing, overnight at a hotel in Tbilisi

*Day 15: departure.

How to Get around in Georgia

Public transport in cities operates well. There is Metro system (only in Tbilisi), buses, mini-buses, taxis, trolley buses, trams (in suburbs). In spite of unscheduled transport service, public vehicles, in particular mini-buses and taxis, pass by so frequently that you can not but catch them within 3 minutes after standing by a street-side anywhere in cities. Costs are relatively much cheaper than in Western Europe: a mini-bus will take you anywhere in cities for a fixed amount of 30 to 50 Tetri ($0.15 to $0.25), not depending on the distance it covers. Although taxis charge the more the longer distance they cover, the fare is cheap as well - e.g. criss-crossing downtown Tbilisi (quite an area) will cost you 2 to 5 Lari ($1 to $2.5), and it will cost 10 to 20 Lari ($5 to $10) to get to the farthest parts of Tbilisi. Bus fare is also fixed at 20 to 50 Tetri ($0.10 to $0.25), while trolley bus fare is 10 Tetri ($0.05) no matter how far they go. Tram is becoming rare, only confined to the suburban areas of Tbilisi, counting its final days.

Public transport between cities and in the countryside is not as good as within cities. Trains and buses are slower and uncomfortable, always behind their schedule, whereas mini-buses operate too fast as drivers drive like hell, overtaking cars even in very dangerous places at high speeds. Helicopters are also available to those willing to hire them with pilots.

Self-drive and chauffeur hire-cars are both available in Tbilisi. For example with CT Car Service Ltd. Self-drive daily rates with unlimited mileage range between $76 and $144 per day, while those of chauffeur drive are between $116 and $180 per day (10 hours) with a rate per extra kilometer of $0.25 to $0.50.


In terms of accommodation there are a lot of options - guesthouses, hotels and private houses with prices ranging between $30 and $200 per day. While in the wild a stay can be made in local private houses located as near as possible to watch sites, and in case such houses are not available we'd better have tents and other outdoor equipment to set up a camp and sleep in tents.


The Georgian cuisine is age-old and very diverse, delicious and known for excellence. Food here is one of the world’s healthiest, which we are very proud of. Soil is naturally very fertile, yielding even citruses and some other tropical fruits and vegetables. Vine-growing and wine-making have been a cult here from time immemorial.

Miscellaneous Information

Traditionally Georgians are very hospitable to foreigners, saying "a Guest is from God", although some banditry does occur in few remote provinces of the country. But if you, stopped by robbers in a certain province, just mention any of your friends’ names from around there, they will usually let you go, since personal relationships in Georgia especially in the backcountry are traditionally highly respected. So, foreigners (tourists) had better go to the backcountry with a guide who is familiar not only with local wildlife but also with local people and their habits and traditions.

As for pre-journey injections, I do not think you need to get any shots. In this respect, staying in Georgia is about just as risky as staying elsewhere in Europe. Just make sure you bring along anti-allergy means if any of you severely suffers from being allergic to any kind of pollen.

In some of the sites (e.g. David Gareji & Vashlovani) tourists would be happy to visit there live Levantine Vipers (Vipera lebetina) whose venom is deadly to human. In spite of the viper's good population in those sites (south-eastern Georgia) I've very seldom heard of someone bitten; victims usually have not been careful while walking around. Anyway just in case, I suggest bringing along antidotes to a snake bite if they are available there, and if they are not we can do without them by walking carefully and slowly - before the viper attacks it tries its best to get away or gives warning hisses when cornered or surprised (we are not going to corner or surprise them, are not we?). I've been walking in that part of Georgia since my childhood and (thanks to God!) never been bitten by the viper and so have my friends and colleagues except for those who have been show-offs and acted tough by catching and playing with the snakes up close just as matadors do in a bull-fight (frankly, in my childhood I did the same and as it seems I had good luck). So, just let's be careful and everything will be OK. Again the viper never tries to chase people, it just defends itself while retreating.


Regarding weather situation, Georgia comprises several climatic zones - e.g. if it rains in eastern Georgia, it's likely to be fine in southern Georgia while it might snow in northern one and be terribly windy or hot in the other parts, or vice versa during just one season. In all, climate in Georgia is much milder than in most of Europe, and similar to the warm Mediterranean region.

Conservation Issues

Unfortunately, in my country a tiny part of the public actually cares about conservation. Since the break-up of the Soviet Empire Georgians have been busy solving political, social and economic problems rather than conserving the extremely diverse local wildlife. Moreover, in many cases the destruction of the local wildlife serves as a way of solving economic problems. Yet, the establishment of national parks system throughout the country is underway, which is strongly supported by The World Bank/GEF and WWF.

A Few Words about Georgia and Georgians

First of all, we are not Russians at all. There is considerable cultural and genetic difference and we take it badly when foreigners refer to us as Russians and Russia. Throughout the history Georgia was many times occupied by various invaders, of which the Soviet Empire was the last one.

Due to our constant wars and fighting for independence and self-identity (especially against aggressive Islamic countries) the Georgian Hallo sounds like this 'GAMARJOBA' that means 'Victory to You'.

Georgia is quite an old country, Greeks called us Georgians, that's people of earth, in other words, people occupied with agriculture, and hence the country's name Georgia.

We have our own language and unique alphabet that is one of the world's 14 alphabets. The language is related to Basque rather than to Turkish, Slavic, Iranian, Armenian, Greek, Roman, etc. The language belongs to the family of Caucasian Languages. Again, the language has nothing in common with Russian.

We are orthodox Christians. Christianity was officially declared as the state religion in the 4th century A.D. though it had spread in Georgia much earlier.

Tbilisi is the Capital of Georgia. As the story about the founding of Tbilisi goes: One day the king of Georgia who reigned in the 5th century A.D. was hunting with a peregrine in the vicinities of present-day Tbilisi. He let the peregrine into the air for a pheasant that had flown out of bushes and was escaping. Both the birds got soon out of sight. The king sent servants for them. They found the birds half-boiled in a natural hot stream. It seemed that the falcon had caught the pheasant and fallen together with the prey into the hot stream. The king liked the place with hot water streams and springs, started building a new town and called it Tbilisi which means a warm place. Soon the town became the capital city of Georgia.

Georgia has given birth to a number of world-known political figures including Stalin.

Finally, we hope you feel free to contact us for any further information.