Wonder at the Beauty of Georgia’s Lakes
Some of the most beautiful settings in the world involve lakes. Often, they sit below equally beautiful mountains, and many such scenes take pride of place in travelers’ photo albums. Every Continent in the World has lakes with some the size of small seas.
In Georgia, some beautiful lakes are incredibly accessible and are part of standard itineraries that Georgia tourists follow. Others are more remote and involve a little effort. It is usually well worth the effort to go to distant parts of Georgia. The closest lake to the Capital, Tbilisi, is Lisi Lake, while others that receive significant numbers of visitors each year include Bazaleti and Ilia.
These three lakes, which each have facilities to make then significant recreational areas for Georgians as well as Georgian tourists, are just the start. First of all, here are the details of those three but read on and you will certainly find others you will want to see with mostly involving hiking, and often requiring experience and fitness. If you want a challenge, reaching some of these Lakes is extremely rewarding
Lisi Lake’s proximity to Tbilisi means that it is a favorite with locals and the most convenient lake for tourists with just a couple of days in the Georgian capital.
Located at over 600 meters to the northwest of Tbilisi, the Lake is in a region famous for its fauna. There are cycling and walking paths as well as entertainment facilities for the whole family. The Lake has a beach where visitors can catch the sun’s rays in the summer.
Those enjoying water sports or fishing head for Lisi Lake regularly while there is a Sulphur bath close to the Lake as well.
This Lake in Mtiuleti, at a little over 40 km from Tbilisi lies on the Plateau of the same name. It was created long ago by volcanic activity, and is beauty had led to the development of a number of local resorts.
It is fed purely by the annual rainfall, and underground sources as no river flows into the Lake, or out of it. The minerals provided by the underground flows have led to the Lake being identified as a place where visitors can get healing waters if they suffer from a range of diseases, including rheumatism and joint problems.
Bazaleti Lake is 900 meters above sea level, sitting below some beautiful mountains. Sunrise and sunset provide outstanding photo opportunities, and visitors come to the Lake all year round. It is a place of legends; one of which says that the Lake’s floor is paradise.
This manmade Lake 120 km from Tbilisi under the slopes of the Caucasus Mountains is in the Duruji Valley in the East of Georgia. It was paid for by the Presidential Fund, and the cleanliness of the environment in every sense, air, and water, together with the beautiful setting means that it matches the natural lakes of Georgia in every way.
It takes its name from Ilia Chavchavadze, who was a Georgian nobleman regarded as one of the Country’s most influential thinkers. He was a writer and a poet, created Georgia’s first privately-funded bank, started unions for both men and women in the search for equality for everyone. He was born in 1837 and served in the Russian Duma until returning home in 1907. Sadly, he was assassinated that same year, suspicions falling on the Soviets, but no one was found guilty of the crime. He was canonized by the Orthodox Church in 1987.
The Lake has been developed as a recreational resort area maintained by the Regional Kvareli Government. Few people visit in mid-winter, but numbers start as soon as spring arrives.
You will need to arrange your own transport in order to get to Oreti Lake. At some times of the year, Oreti Lake is relatively disappointing as water levels fall but up to the end of the summer, visitors will be greeted by some lovely panoramic views over the whole of the Tusheti Region.
This remote region of Georgia is in the Caucasus north of Tbilisi, a place where hiking is popular. The hike to the Lake is not easy, although some may decide to reach the Lake on horseback. Horses and guides are available in Omalo. The Lake is a 28 km round trip from Omalo.
The Lake is located at over 2500 meters, with the hike involving a climb of around 1,500 meters.
Another Lake up in the Caucasus is Tobavarchkhili, which is found at over 2,500 meters in the Mountains of Samegrelo.
The popular hike, purely for experienced walkers, to reach the Lake is a 4-day round trip, although you will need a get a jeep to get you that close. A jeep can be hired in Mukhuri
There are some lovely views in these Egrisi Mountains, including valleys, waterfalls, high passes, and lakes. There are no settlements on the route, so ensure you are adequately equipped and supplied for the hike and change your plans if heavy rain is forecast.
If easy walking is your preference, then Tabatskuri is a far better choice; you can walk in this lovely region without straining yourself. Tabatskuri is located between Borjomi and Akhalkalaki in the Samtskhe-JavakhetiRegion, which is west of Tbilisi, almost equidistant between the Capital and the Black Sea.
The Lake freezes in the wintertime with the best time to visit the beginning of June until the return of winter. While snow may still be covering the surrounding inactive volcanoes, the valleys will be green. It is possible to reach the Lake by vehicle along a fairly basis road.
The local community is involved in agriculture and fishing, and visitors can stay at a local house to sample Georgian hospitality. There are natural hot springs in the village so if you do go walking and want to relax, take a dip.
This remote Lake in the Truso Valley (Khevi) involves a somewhat strenuous hike across two passes to the Khorisar Plateau. You need a permit to go to Kelitsadi because it is close to disputed territory in Georgia’s northeast.
It is easy to get lost in this fairly barren region, so taking GPS is strongly recommended. You can camp in this remote region if you wish with the challenge of reaching an altitude of over 3,500 meters, requiring some time. Khorisar Peak above the Lake offers stunning views across the Lake and the whole region.
Lake of Shavi Kldeebi
This Lake forms one of the natural borders between Georgia and Russia, so it is important to remember that some areas in the region are off-limits to visitors. The Lake within Lagodekhi National Park is located at a height of almost 2,800 meters. You can enjoy waterfalls and lakes, pristine forests and significant fauna.
Also known as the Lake of the Black Rocks, there are a number of walking trails in the Park and one of them goes to the Lake. Starting at the Park’s Visitors’ Center, the trail is well-marked, so you cannot get lost. It begins with a significant climb to a shelter where hikers can stay overnight. The next day takes you through a valley for you to register with border guards; you need a permit from the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs to enter the area. Then just enjoy your surroundings.
The small alpine lake called Udizo, which in English means “bottomless,” is found close to Shovi in Racha. The exact location is the slope of Mt. Katitsvera, at the height of 2,800m. It is a moderate to difficult 2-day hike to reach the Lake where you will find a campsite.
There are some lovely panoramas to enjoy, including the mountains of Tetnuldi at almost 5,000 meters, Shkhara at 5,200 meters, and Ushba at 4,700 meters as you walk Katitsvera’s trails. The easiest route to the Lake starts in the village of Glola close to Oni. It is a 6-hour walk through woods but does involve a climb. The highest point you reach is over 3,000 meters before you can descend to the Lake.
Beware; the water is very cold, but you will probably expect that given the Lake’s location. However, you are welcome to swim if you are brave.
The Two Lakes of Abudelauri
A much easier walk of just 7 km from Roshka will see you reach the first of Abudelauri’s two lakes. The second is a further half-hour. The whole thing from Roshka and back can be done in a single day. The best time to visit the Region is in the summer and early autumn.
These Lakes have been nicknamed the ‘’colorful lakes’’ and individually the ‘’white’’ and the ‘’green.’’ They are in the far north section of the Eastern Caucasus Mountains at the height of 2,800 meters.
The Koruldi Lakes are at the base of Mount Ushba at the height of 1,400 meters. To reach the starting point of Mestia for a 16 km hike, you will face an overland journey from Tbilisi of around 10 hours or a one-hour flight followed by a road connection. Mestia is in the far northwest of Georgia and is beginning to attract increasing numbers of visitors.
A paved road makes the walk not too exacting, and the beauty of the surrounding mountains will take your mind off any tiredness anyway. After leaving the village, take the sharp right turn heading east. Half an hour later, you will see a double track path and a cross on the hillside. At that point, you are halfway to the Lakes with the whole journey taking about 4 hours. It is a well-marked route.
The reflections of the mountains in the lakes make lovely photographs, although the water itself is sometimes rather muddy and not very good for swimming.
Bateti Lake is 135 km west of Tbilisi, so it has become a popular weekend destination for city dwellers. To reach the Lake from the starting point in the village of Kodmani you will face a climb of about one hour though it is only when the ground is wet underfoot that is becomes more difficult. Start out, and when you reach a sign pointing left to Tbeti Monastery, you are almost there.
If you have a choice, the best time to visit is in the autumn, when the colors are amazing. Camping is possible in summer and autumn. If you decide to stay a while and want a more challenging climb, look for trails into nearby Dzama Gorge.
This volcanic creation, 130 km southwest of Tbilisi, is found at an altitude of just over 2,00 meters on the Javakheli Plateau, which divides the Abul-Samsari and Javakheti Mountain Ranges. It is never especially deep with late autumn/early winter seeing an average depth of just 2.2 meters. At that point, it freezes for the winter with the ice sometimes reaching 70 centimeters of thickness.
It is fed by three small rivers as well as getting underground water, rain, and snow. It is a lake that has always been popular with fishermen.
Madatapa is a lake in southeast Georgia not far from the border with Armenia. It is located at an altitude of over 2,100 meters and covers an area of 885 hectares. It is a lake famous for its carp. It naturally attracts fishermen keen to catch one of the Lake’s fine specimens. It is fairly shallow, and as well as carp, the Lake is an important breeding area and migratory resting place for waterbirds, including the endangered and rare Dalmatian Pelican. There are a number of small villages on the Lakeside for any assistance a visitor may require. There is a 22 km route around the Lake for cycling and walking with a picnic area and a tower for birdwatching. The Madatapa River flows out of the Lake to link downstream with the Faravani and Bughdasheni Rivers.