Footprint Trail – Forest, Snake and Politics

24. May 2023



Near Borjomi is the Borjomi-Charagauli National Park. It covers about 85,000 ha and is located between 400 m and 2,642 m. It was founded in 1995 and supported by Germany and WWF Germany with almost 20 million German marks. A small part went directly into the park, the large part into the infrastructure of the buffer zone. The park was officially inaugurated in 2001.


There are several well-signposted hiking trails marked with colours. On tours lasting several days, you stay in shelters, i.e. simple huts, where you have to bring your own sleeping mat, sleeping bag and cooker. I thought it would be good to have a look at the whole thing on a day tour first. To do this, you have to register at the national park centre (costs nothing) and when the colleague saw that I was German, he immediately pointed out the German support.


The day trek is called Footprint Trail and starts in Likani – from there you can take a taxi up the 2 km village road – or do it all on foot like I did.


after the village road


It didn’t look all that exciting to me, and that’s how it stayed. It went steadily through the forest, but first in serpentines, then steadily uphill.




And that went up quite a lot. I hadn’t really checked beforehand, but it was over 800 metres in altitude. And always only trees. They are quite nice, but I would have preferred more alpine terrain. After a long time, there was a lookout:


little view


I had no enthusiasm there either, too much tree vegetation. The weather was so mediocre – mostly cloudy, there were small stretches of sunshine and sometimes it drizzled from above. I thought I was the only one walking around there that day, but that was not the case. I was met by 2 who had done a shelter tour and at the lookout I met Frederik, a teacher from Schleswig-Holstein, for the first time. After we met again at a later point, we walked the rest together and had a nice chat. He is a teacher for history, politics and sports and because of the former I was urged to look more into the current political situation – more on that later in this post.




Further up, there was a whole stretch along a kind of ridge. That was the best thing – but the weather at that moment was not. And so we didn’t linger, but rather hurried on and on. But we still had a look at the flora and fauna. I really liked the two-coloured flowers:




And then there were some pretty trees:




As animals we saw butterflies, birds and this one:




And then – very exciting – we saw a snake! I have a fear of snakes – but this one was fine, it was rather ponderous and slowly slithered away. We haven’t identified it yet – the local species look similar. I suspect a non-poisonous adder.




So the path led up to this ridge, along it for a bit and down again at the end, where you came out somewhere else. On the way down, there were a few rocks to look at:




There were streams to cross on bridges and the wide path had itself become a stream at the bottom, which was so wide that I preferred to take off my shoes for the crossing instead of slipping. There is no picture of this, but there is one of me on the bridge:


small bridge


And when we had almost arrived at the final destination village, a rumble of thunder started. A taxi driver smelled business and offered us a lift. We refused. That might have been stupid, but we were going to do it to the end without one. We met a dog again who walked with us all the way to the big road. In the meantime there was a second one, but it disappeared again. So it thundered and then the rain also fell and pelted down quite well. And it got cooler and we didn’t know how long it would last and it was already a little late and so we plodded through the rain to the big road, shoes were soaked – and no car stopped while we hitchhiked! (It was about 20 km). But then a Marshrutka came, we drove back and said goodbye and were happy to have spent some time together. Another one of those beautiful travel encounters!


dog company


So the picture yield wasn’t that great and I’m beginning to fear I won’t be able to attract anyone here with these rather greyish photos. But I have a feeling. A feeling that there is still something to come. It’s just a bit early – the good mountain paths in the more formidable regions are not yet passable and May is a rather wet month.


So politics. At the very beginning I wrote about Georgia’s difficult relationship with the EU and Russia. Demonstrations had been announced because of the new Tbilisi-Moscow flight connection. These also took place – as did the flights. In addition, the daughter of Russia’s Foreign Minister Lavrov attended/wanted to attend a wedding ceremony here. The people were outraged that she (and her family – it was her husband’s brother who was getting married) were not refused entry and they gathered again for a demonstration in front of the ceremony site. This was more successful. Eggs were thrown at minibuses and 16 people were arrested and the celebrations cancelled.


It is said that many Georgians have too idealised an idea of life in the EU. But that is probably why the people are so keen on it. They hope for a better economy, less unemployment, better medical care – and a general increase in prosperity. But perhaps also more values, democracy and less corruption.


At that time, in 2008, I was surprised by the EU’s request – for me, the border was already much further away in Istanbul and Georgia. Now I don’t know what I think, I haven’t thought it through. Except that I can of course understand very well that you have your difficulties with Russia. But it is definitely not easy as a small country (size of Bavaria) in this region. Everything is very intertwined and the clear solution that one always hopes for does not exist here either.


Speaking of Bavaria – on the hike there was a worn-out vehicle to see. There was a sticker on it with or against Söder.




CSU abwählen


I arrived at the accommodation a bit drenched, jumped straight into the hot shower and dry clothes and got a bit of a scratchy throat. Today it’s lazy day. But there will be a surprise waiting for me at the end of it. I already know that!