Tusheti National Reserve
Tusheti, one of the most beautiful regions of Georgia, is located in the eastern Caucasus. Tusheti is bordered by Dagestan to the east and by Chechnya - to the north. Khevsureti is located to the west of Tusheti and Kakheti - to the south. Tusheti, surrounded by the high mountain ranges and summits, is rugged by the numerous gorges, the waters from which flow into the two major rivers of Tusheti - Pirikiti’s Alazani and Tusheti’s (Gometsari) Alazani separated with the watershed of Makratela. Both Alazanis merge near the village of Shenako and then leave Tusheti and the border of Georgia, flows to Dagestan, where this river is called as Andis Koisu and finally flows into the Caspian Sea.
Tusheti Protected Areas cover Tusheti Strict Nature Reserve, Tusheti National Park and Tusheti Protected Landscape. There total area is about 113,660.2 ha.
The vegetation of Tusheti is characterized by a high level of endemism. 230 representatives of domestic flora are endemic to Caucasus (more than 20% of total amount of Caucasus endemic species) and 11 species are endemic to Georgia.
Among endemic species found in Tusheti Strict Nature Reserve and Tusheti National Park the following can be distinguished: Tushetian Monkshood (Aconitum tuscheticum), Iberian barberry (Berberis iberica), bellflower (Campanula), bear nut-tree (Corylus iberica), lily (Pancratium), Tushetian Dog-rose (Rosa tuschetica), Tebulo’s buttercup (Ranunculus tebulosus), et al. Some endemic species to Caucasus can be found here, such as: Black or Radde’s birch (Betula raddeana), Caucasian fritillaries(Fritillaria caucasica), yellow Caucasian fritillaries (Fritillaria lutea), Juliana Primrose(Primula juliae), Caucasian rhododendron (Rhododendron caucasicum), squill(Scilla arborea), et al.
60 species of mammals, about 120 species of birds, 4 - of reptiles, 6 - of amphibians and 1 species of fish are widespread in Tusheti.
These weathered slopes of Caucasus and inaccessible cliffs are the homeland of the East Caucasian tur, chamois and Bezoar goat. Another Caucasian endemic species - the Caucasian Snowcock, is a neighbor of tur. One more beauty of nature - Caucasian Black grouse lives in the Caucasian rhododendron shrubs and birch groves.
Among large ungulate animals Roe deer can be often found in the forests of Tusheti and very rarely - Red deer. Wild boar regularly visits Tusheti from neighboring Dagestan.
Tusheti is rich in carnivores - Red fox and Gray wolf can be found everywhere including even very high areas above sea level. The footprints of Brown beer can be also found everywhere, the population of which is quite stable. Lynx can be also found in Tusheti in sufficient amount and it has many sources of prey including small rodents and hare and chamois and young turs - all these animals are the hunting objects of lynx.
The scientists still hope that the Mountains of Tusheti are still the shelter of ounce, the Southwest Asian leopard.
Tusheti is also a very rich area in ornithological viewpoint. A lot of birds of different size and different lifestyle live there. Coniferous forests of Tusheti are inhabited by very rare for Georgia bird species - Crossbills feeding on pine cones. Several species of woodpeckers can be found in the same forests. Higher the Red-fronted Serins, Water Pipits and red winged Wallcreepers are found. The inaccessible cliffs of Tusheti are the habitat of Griffon vultures, Bearded vulturesand Golden eagles. Many chukars can be also found here. Among other birds of prey different types of owls can be found in Tusheti, as well as Common kestrel,Common buzzard and the fastest bird of our planet Peregrine falcon.
The rivers of Tusheti are rich in River trouts (Salmo trutta fario).According to the present data, four species of reptiles are found in Tusheti, they are: Smooth snake (Coronella austriaca), Grass-snake (Natrix natrix), Dice snake(Natrix tesselata)and theTranscaucasian ratsnake(Elaphe hohnackeri), also there are found six species of amphibians: the Green Hoptoad (Bufo viridis), Caucasian Hoptoad (Bufo verrucossimus), Asia Minor frog (Rana macronemis), Common Tree-frog (Hyla arborea), Caucasian Mud-diver (Peodytes caucasicus) and a Pond frog (Rana ridibunda).
Every village of Tusheti is a historical monument in itself. There are monuments of cultural and economical value: summer dwellings and their adjacent territories in the gorges of Kvakhidistskali, Larovanistskali, upper stream of Gometsati’s Alazani and Tsovatistskali.
There are ancient villages and former villages in Tusheti, in the most part of which the fortresses of the late Middle Ages are well preserved; Tusheti itself with the nomadic and romantic lifestyle of the Tushetians and summer icon-holidays has always attracted visitors. The traditional hospitality of the Tushetians guaranteed a safety to tourists or visitors. Tusheti is interesting for various reasons. This inaccessible mountain region is the place of origin of small but strong Tush horse and shepherds’ faithful assistant - Georgian shepherd dog. Sheep-breeding promoted the development of folk handicraft industry. Using wool and natural dyes the Tushetian women produce amazingly plain and beautiful crafts, such as socks, “chitis” and Tushetian carpets.
Tusheti is one of the interesting tourist sites. Tourists are attracted by its breathtaking nature, domestic habits, historical and cultural monuments. Tourists can benefit from different kinds of tourist service. There are comfortable family hotels in Tusheti
See also: Algeti Natioal Park Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park Kazbegi National Park Kintrishi Protected Landscape Kobuleti Managed Reserved Kolkheti National Park Lagodekhi National Reserve Mtirala National Park Sataplia National Reserve Vashlovani State Reserve and National Park