Visit Vashlovani National Park, Georgia

pantishara vashlovani

This summer I had the chance to visit Vashlovani National Park in Georgia. This arid park of more than 400 km² is located on the border with Azerbaijan. It is a place that I found incredible and yet it seems very little known. This park offers landscapes of 1000 contrasts and the fauna is rich. If you want to feel alone in the world, closer to nature and off the beaten track, this is a stopover not to be missed.

However, getting to Vashlovani National Park in Georgia does require a few formalities. In this article, I give you my advice on obtaining your entry permits, joining the park as well as some itinerary ideas for visiting Vashlovani National Park in Georgia.

vue pantishara viewpoint

What is Vashlovani National Park?

In the far south-eastern part of Georgia, Vashlovani Park is a semi-arid area stretching over more than 400 km². This park, with the appearance of savannah, presents very multiple reliefs, marked by erosions. There is a very important flora and fauna with more than 100 species of birds or 600 types of plants. Also, there are many mammals in the park. You can come across gazelles, otters, hyenas … A Caucasian leopard lived in Vashlovani Park before disappearing several years ago. It is therefore the perfect place to go on a safari if you love nature and wildlife. To visit the park, prefer spring and autumn when the fauna is more active, because the heat is extremely strong in summer.

vashlovani desert caravan

Obtain entry to Vashlovani National Park

Vashlovani National Park is located a few kilometers from the town of Dedoplistskaro. It is in this city that it is necessary to pass to obtain its authorization of entry. Indeed, the Vashlovani National Park being located on the border with Azerbaijan, it is necessary to obtain the agreement of the border police to get there.

Stage 1: Vashlovani National Park Visitor Center

First, go to the visitors’ office. This is where you will pay the entrance to Vashlovani National Park and initiate your authorization request. The visitor center is located at 5 Baratashvili street in Dedoplistskaro and opens daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. You will then be informed in English and can buy a map of the park.

You will need to provide the office with several documents: a copy of your passport, a copy of the page with the Georgia entry stamp and the copy of the vehicle registration document with which you plan to go to the park. The center will then take care of sending the documents to the border police. The Vashlovani National Park Visitor Center has a Wi-Fi connection, which will allow you to easily transmit your documents via Whatsapp.

You will also pay your entry fee to Vashlovani National Park at the Visitors Center. The price is really minimal: 5 laris per person (approx. € 1.35), 5 laris for a vehicle and 3 laris to buy the park map with the description of the different areas (approx. 0.80 €).

Step 2: Go to the border police

Once the formalities have been completed at the visitors’ center, you will be able to go to the border police to collect your entry permits. The authorizations are ready within 40 minutes after sending the documents. Here are the GPS coordinates of the barracks where you need to go. You park in front, then you ask for your authorization through the gates. The police will check your passports, then come and bring you your authorizations.

Authorizations in your pocket, you are ready for an adventure in the sublime Vashlovani National Park!

What equipment to get to Vashlovani National Park?

One item is needed to get to Vashlovani National Park, it is a 4 × 4. Indeed, the tracks are rugged, sometimes extremely steep and narrow. It is impossible to circulate in the park without an adapted vehicle. In our case, we had rented a Suzuki Jimmy in Tbilisi, which did the job perfectly!

You can choose to camp in Vashlovani National Park. I recommend it because a day goes by very quickly and there are so many areas to explore. There are some refuge points in Vashlovani National Park, near which it is allowed to build a fire. Finally, plan to eat and drink for the duration of your visit.

4x4 on the tracks of vashlovani park

Access to Vashlovani National Park

It is very easy to get to the park from the town of Dedoplistskaro. Just drive straight (no laughing, that’s about it!). You must leave Dedoplistskaro via the Tsnori-Dedoplistskaro-Kvemo Kedi road, in the direction of Kasristkali . This is one of the first points of the red and yellow routes, proposed to go around the park.

As it is not very easy to find your way around the park, the easiest way is to use Maps.Me to approach this point, then start the desired route. It is about 30 km to go when you go out of town to reach this point. The first fifteen kilometers are paved, the last 15 then become a long, very bumpy track, on which it is quite difficult to advance. It takes about 50 minutes to drive from Dedopliskaro to Kasristkali.

From Tbilisi, it takes around 2 hours by car to reach the park. It is therefore possible to do this during a one or two day excursion.

Find your way around Vashlovani Park

Here is the plan of the park with different points that I mention below.

Map of Vashlovani National Park

It is quite difficult to find your way around Vashlovani Park. When you purchase your plan, behind you will see descriptions of the different areas to explore. Only, we do not necessarily find them on the plan at the back, which is a first difficulty. To find our way around, we therefore chose names on the map, which we then transcribed on the Maps.Me. This application knows a few trails in the park, but not all of them. We cannot therefore rely on the travel times announced on the app. It sometimes announces an 8 hour drive to a point that can be reached in 1 hour 30 minutes, because it cannot find a way to get there.

To visit Vashlovani National Park, the map offers different colored itineraries, more or less long depending on the duration of your visit. In the park, you will see some signs to help you follow your route, but you will quickly notice that most of them are faded or discolored. It is therefore not a great help either. The easiest way is to find your way around by combining the Maps Me points and the refuges you cross.

calf sucking a cow

Our itinerary in the park

In our case, we followed the red route. So we started by going to Kasristkali. Then we drove towards Bear Gorge. It took about 1h30. When the trail stopped, we took a 1 hour walk through the very beautiful canyon. No bears to report, only a few reptiles basking in the sun!

reptile in the sun
walking in bear canyon

We then took the red route back south this time, which took us to a rocky lookout. Then, we retraced our steps to go to the very beautiful belvedere of Pantishara. After that, we understood that the journeys took much less time than those advertised on Maps Me. This is why we decided to take part of the orange route, to bring us back to the Northwest, East so towards Dedoplistksaro. We then improvised totally through the fields and we even came across a shepherd and his flock, which seemed to come from the past. Time has stood still in Vashlovani Park. These last tracks, through plantations and herds of cows, were a lot more fun than the long straight line taken on the outward journey!

So here you are, ready to venture into this magnificent park. I wish you a good exploration and do not hesitate to give me your feelings in the comments.  Finally, if you are planning your trip to Georgia, check out my itinerary of the must-sees across the country , so as not to miss anything during your stay.

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