Adjara from Nature to Culture

If you look at the map of Georgia, in the most south-west part, you will find the Autonomous Republic of Adjara. While there is only one Adjara on the map, culturally and ethnographically it is divided into two entities. First is a Sea resort region- a place of sun, beaches, and summer vacations, and is an essential part of the region's livelihood. Batumi, formerly a free port, is the center of this Adjara. Here, the business flourished as far back as in the early 1900s. Architecture of 1900s together with ultra-modern hotels and residential buildings, constitute the striking, and somewhat eclectic face of Batumi.

There is also another Adjara- mountainous and traditional, with wooden houses surrounded by the lush greenery, white minarets glistening against the emerald colored landscape. This is where the famous long-lived Caucasian high mountain elders live and the herders take the livestock to the mountains in summer, and return to their families in the fall. Not many people know it; here life has not changed for centuries. Dense temperate rainforests surround Adjarian villages. At nights wild boars and bears fre-quently raid local bee farms and gardens.

The Black Sea temperate rainforests are the most diverse landscape of Georgia. Georgian forests resem-ble the Alps and Carpathians in appearance, but they have higher diversity of plants and animals. In some parts of the area, the annual rainfall exceeds 4,000 mm. Vegeta-tion is extremely diverse, and over a quarter of the species are endemics of the region. Five species of Rhodo-dendrons are found nowhere else in the world. The area harbors several species of endemic shrews, snow voles, and over ten endemic rock lizards of genus Darevskia.

Other species include endemic adders, toads, mud-divers, Caucasian brook salamander, spectac-ular banded newt, diverse running beetles and slugs, various ferns, brown bear, roe deer, wolf, and jackal. Bottle nosed dolphin, com-mon dolphin, and harbor porpoise are a common sight from the coasts of Adjara. It takes only half a day to go from Batumi City on the Black sea shore, to the mountains reaching

3000 m.a.s.. where Adjarian cattle herders have summer stations. Mountain Adjara is one of the only places that traditional farming and wild nature still co-exist. This is a terra incognita for the tour-ism industry. This is a great reason to turn away from the main road and spend a few days in Adjarian Guest Houses, where the owners still plow their land with oxen, manually scythe their crops, and still use ancient technique of beekeeping by placing logs in the deep forests of Adjara for the wild bees to form colonies.

Every village has a traditional wooden watermill, where the farmers take turn to mill their corn harvest. Colorful Adjarian cuisine is clearly influ-enced by Turkish cuisine, especially the sweet treats such as baklava and Shakarlama. While almost everyone is familiar with Adjarian Khachapuri, few have tried borano, chibruli, and sinori. Tasting the ecologically pure dishes made of local honey, dairy, nuts, and eggs will enrich any trip to the Adjarian region.

The mountains and coasts of Adjara are extremely important for the migrating and endemic birds. The Batumi raptor migration bottleneck (after Veracruz, Mexico and Eilat, Israel) is the third largest raptor migration bottleneck in the world. Over a million raptors from 35 species migrate through the foothills of Adjarian Mountains in Autumn. Witnessing over 100 000 raptors migrate daily through this stunning landscape is a life-changing experience. The mountains of Adjara are equally amazing in harboring the endemic and rare species of birds like Caucasian Grouse, Caucasian Chiffchaff, Green Warbler, Caspian Snowcock, Semi-collared Flycatcher, Kruper's Nuthatch and many more.

We invite you to visit the Adjarian mountains. We're only opening a door to this special world, where the experience is definitely worth it.