Park Kharagauli is brother of Borjomi if consider Borjomi feminine gender (water?) by default or masculine (gorge?). But I would not go into details, so I consider Borjomi to be feminine in the first place (water) and masculine (gorge) at the second:)
(View from reserve of Borjomi gorge)
Even any horrible travel agent can explain (or maybe not) what is Kharagauli, because this place has the status of reserves and it is protected in accordance with the legislation of the UN. But its biography is available, though, because it is one of the greatest national parks in Europe, the jewel of the Lesser Caucasus and a great pride of the country.
Despite one of the variants of the name «Borjomi-Kharagauli», the gorge is one thing, and the reserve is another. That’s why I think that it will be correct to call them brother and sister. The park is located in the heart of Georgia and has six administrative districts, which spread from the resort town of Borjomi to Kharagauli. Its area is 5, 3 thousand miles and it is almost 8 % (to be more exact it is 7, 6%) of the territory of Georgia.
Park is unique in diversity of ecological zones, historical monuments, flora and fauna. A historian, a biologist and geographer can tell a lot about it. But biologist and geographer do not have blogs in our community, so I shall start first.
Nowadays park of Kharagauli belongs to the municipality, which is a part of land with the beautiful name of Imereti. I think that the story of the Imereti region would lead us to the history of the kingdom of Imereti. It is worth telling, but I will tell you about it in one of the future posts, catch me in a word:)
In feudal times the land was used mainly for hunting. As you know, this era lasted for a long time:). But even at that time the park existed as a park, not as the city or the complex of settlements or someone’s estate. It was «wild» natural land with all the respective functions.
At the time when Georgia was a part of the Russian Empire, Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolayevich (1832-1909) (the brother of monarch Alexander II) interfered in the fate of the park. In those days he served as governor-general of the Caucasus. He was extremely impressed with the beauty of the park and decided to make this park his own summer residence.
And as soon as the park became the residence, Mikhail banned hunting and other flaying actions concerning the environment. Thus the foundation for future park Kharagauli was laid.
During the Soviet period Kharagauli had the status of the reserve, at least after the victory over Hitler (the story somehow buried the information about the events, which were happened on the territory of the park. But I think you can guess).
Kharagauli got the status of National Park unreasonably late (in 1995). Well-known Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the German government (oddly enough) contributed to it. The awarding of status of National Park and the opening of it didn’t coincide in time. The park was opened only in 2001. However, it is quite understandable for park. Sometimes it is necessary to do expertises, researches, and analysis before opening, which can last for a long time.
According to some experts, 76,000 hectares of park is absolutely virgin territory, where the foot of man has never stepped. But I cannot vouch for the accuracy of this formulation, because I didn’t take part in the analysis of the territories and archaeological excavations. Well, but I believe the experts. At the same time I was definitely impressed by the fact that next to the Borjomi gorge there is the Monument to Wilderness (I’ll write it with capital letter).
I do not know much about flowers and plants, but some sources with good reputation say that there are exotic flowers in the park, which cannot be found on the market. There are animals in the park, such as lynx, brown bear, deer, wolf and the hawk, and some reptiles (big lizards), which are in the Red Book. The forest in the Park is deciduous and coniferous.
If my story about the Park was so interesting that you want to go on a trip there, I have to remind that you should keep the strict rules of the reserve. However, despite this fact, there is a certain degree of confidence in people, because Kharagauli provides guests with four tourist accommodations and a small private hotel. I haven’t been there, but they say that the prices are quite reasonable. In addition, the hotel seems to have even the courts for horseback riding and other interesting things. You can a tour operator for more information.
All the accommodations are located in areas called «traditional Georgian village”, so the stay will be interesting even for hitherto ignorant ethnographers. There are Borjomi sources nearby, so you will be able to drink water as much as you want:)
The easiest way to go there is to get to Tbilisi firstly. Then train from Tbilisi to Poti. You can go from Kutaisi if you’re already on a Georgian tour. No more than two and a half of an hour if you drive from the capital.
They say it will take 4 hours to get there if you go by car.