Georgia is a fascinating country and so admirable! But there are some basic things that are surprising. They seem strange because they are too unusual for us. And one should know about them before a trip to make hiking in Georgia good.
The Georgian currency is lari. One lari is equal to about 0,36 USD ( current information about the exchange rate). So, for hiking in Georgia you need to get it. But do not rush and change money in your country before journey. In Georgia, you can easily find an ATM (in large cities), and it is much more profitable to simply remove the money from them. You can pay by card only in the largest cities, and usually at train stations.
With all of Georgia’s ATMs you can take the cash in two currencies – the Georgian lari and US dollars.
Communication with local people while he tourists hiking in Georgia
Georgian is not like any other language. As Georgians speak very spontaneously, this may sound a bit menacing. But in fact, there is no reason to worry, Georgians are incredibly friendly people.
Minimum vocabulary list
Before hiking in Georgia, you should learn a few basic words in Georgian. Speaking with respect to others, we are more sympathetic to people. Using polite expressions in speech is always a good sign from hiking tourists. Therefore, here is a few words list that you should know and be able to pronounce correctly.
- madloba- thank you
- didi madloba – thank you very much
- gaumargos – health
Russian or English
Very rarely in Georgia speak English. In fact, only in tourist areas and in large cities. But if you speak Russian, here you can easily be understood while hiking in Georgia. Although not everyone knows Russian language, it is popular, especially among the elderly.
Driving in Georgia
In addition to the main highways, Georgia has gravel roads, often with pits. You can drive through them only on full-drive powerful cars. Often a journey of 100 km can takes 5 hours. Therefore, trips to Georgia should be planned with a large margin of time.
You can travel by car on your own. But if you do not feel enough confident to drive, it is better to go to the local bus or rent a car with a driver.
Cows on the highway
Georgian roads are full of free-grazing animals that are not afraid of cars. Be careful, cows, pigs and goats like to lie free in the middle of the roads, whatever it is a dark tunnel or a highway.
The movement in Georgia is right-hand, so, you keep the right side. It is typical for all European countries, except the UK. But on the roads of Georgia there is a sufficient number of right-hand drive cars, which are very often used by the local population. With such a system, overtaking is much more difficult. It leads to many dangerous situations.
There are a lot of petrol stations. Their location can be found with the help of the Georgian version of LUKOIL’s website.
In Russia, the last petrol station before the border in Vladikavkaz. Rosneft and Gazprom. Then there will be only one unknown-named petrol station. Therefore, it is necessary to take a spare canister.
At many stations, petrol can be easily paid by card.
There are practically no shops at gas stations in Georgia.
Very often along the road there are altars in memory of the victims. Most often of car accidents. Next to them – chacha and a glass or horn. It is easy to guess that so any passing by (even the driver) can make a toast for the victims.
Culture in Georgia
To entrance a Church while hiking in Georgia, the woman’s hair, hands and knees should be hide under fabric. In the provinces, women dress very modestly. Therefore, if you are easily dressed, you can feel disapproving eyes on yourself. For example, if you are in shorts.
Cult of Stalin
Many Georgians love Stalin. There are a lot of the souvenirs with his image on Georgian city streets. Georgians like to remember Stalin and to toast in his honor. You do not have to drink with them, but it is better not to dispute its importance.
Georgia is in Europe?
Part of Georgia is on the European continent and many Georgians are considered to be Europeans.
Dogs in Georgia
Dogs are treated very badly here. They are not kept at home, and they are often driven out with stones. There are a lot of stray dogs, which are often attacked by wolves.
Wine and chacha
Wine and chacha (Georgian vodka) are the two national drinks. Both of them drink here in very large quantities. Most often, this alcohol and produced at home. Therefore, hiking in Georgia, you need to pay attention to these two drinks to feel the “spirit” of Georgia. Georgians say that wine was invented in their country.
If you need to buy wine, bread, vegetables or, for example, cheese while hiking in Georgia, there is no need to look for a shop. Just go to any good-looking house. If the owners do not sell one of these things, they will certainly direct you to the neighbors who can do it. Thanks to this, tourists can buy super fresh products and at the same time support the local population in economic terms.
Don’t overstay the welcome
Georgians are incredibly hospitable. They will gladly offer wine, snacks, dinner or even a night if you come to them while hiking in Georgia. This is due to their mentality and the fact that they are very serious about the saying “A guest – messenger of God”. However, mainly they are very poor, so they practically give the last piece of bread to the guest. That’s why it’s important not to overstay their hospitality while hiking in Georgia, and it’s better to give something to the in return. For example, if they offer wine, then bought a few liters of it – thus you also pay for soft drinks.
It is worth noting, that you should drink the offered glass of wine, thus not to offend the owner.
Georgian cuisine is certainly delicious. But in long journeys it quickly becomes boring, because it is quite simple. Georgian cuisine do not have a very diverse menu. They eat the same dishes at all meal time.
- khachapuri pancakes (with meat or cheese, sometimes with eggs)
- ravioli, khinkali (meat and broth)
- Georgian salad of cucumbers, tomatoes and coriander
- barbecue (grilled meat without additives) – poultry or pork
- lobio soup with beans
Also local lemonade with tarragon is very popular there, but to be honest no one likes it.
Nature in Georgia
Weather and climate
The climate in Georgia is very diverse. There are high snowy mountains, semi-deserts, steppes and dense forests. In summer days there can be 40 degrees, and at night about zero. You must be prepared for heat and frost, sun and rain. And also to varying degrees of humidity – from very high in some areas to very dry climate in others. In general, hiking in Georgia, you should be ready for anything.
Living “in the wild” is allowed and legal. And Georgia is full of wonderful places for that. In the mountains you can easily find places to stay, and in the lowlands, it is better to stay near the rivers. There are many ways out to the water, because the Georgians themselves like to have picnics near the rivers. It is also good to ask the locals about the place to set up tents, they always tell the best ones.
Free national parks
Entrance to the parks and reserves is free. Except Vashlovani Park, before visiting it you have to go to the Park office and pay charge. The parks are home to many wild animals (bears, wolves, jackals), so it is safer to stay in special shelters, which are also booked in the Park office.
Modern infrastructure in Georgia
Internet is available in almost every guest house. It is also worth buying a local SIM card with the Internet if hiking in Georgia.
There are very few supermarkets here. If you can find a good one of them while hiking in Georgia, you should buy everything you need at once. There are, of course, many small shops, but in them you will find only the simplest products.
It often happens, that in the store tourist hiking in Georgia buy things in a higher price than Georgians.
The locals have some kind of stalls along the roads and sell a lot of fruits, vegetables, honey, wine and other local products.
All this is usually sold in “sectors”. It means, if one Georgian sells watermelons, he sells them to neighbors next to him. If someone sells hammocks, then there are 50 stands with hammocks. And everywhere there are the same prices.
There are many restaurants in Georgia, even in the provinces. And as usual it is much cheaper to eat in them, than cooking yourself.
The police are very friendly he tourists hiking in Georgia and help them with pleasure. They can be accessed with any problem (even to find out where to buy something). If they do not know English, they will call a friend who knows and translate everything.
There are many payment boxes that you can use when hiking in Georgia. Their number is more than ATMs’. They are similar to the devices of ATMs which are used to pay bills, replenish the phone or buy a ticket.
Accommodation in guest houses
Accommodation in the private sector is very cheap. Living conditions are usually not too good, but it is a great opportunity to see the country “from the inside” when hiking in Georgia. Most of these places also offer breakfasts or dinners prepared by the owners.