Vashlovani Park

Published on 10/12/2023 at 15:24

Finally back on our feet, we headed east to discover the vast Vashlovani nature park. To do this, we had to apply for two permits: one to visit the park and one to register with the border police, as we were going to be driving along the border with Azerbaijan, and the two countries don't exactly get on...

First of all, a stop in a dry riverbed halfway to Dedopliskaro, the town where we have to complete the administrative formalities. It wasn't a very good idea, as when evening came and a storm was brewing, I could only sleep with one eye open at the thought of a dam bursting or the region flooding... A far-fetched idea, of course, but then again, you never change your mind!

Two days later, with nothing extraordinary happening in the area, the road takes us to the famous town, the last place to get food, water or petrol before the park.

After an uneventful night near a pretty canyon, we set off!

Of the 4 trails - and yes, they are trails that require an all-terrain vehicle - we took two. The other two explore the Chachouna reserve or the Iori plains... And although the desire to discover them is intense, we'll have to be reasonable because driving requires great concentration.

On runway 6, we start to open our eyes in front of this extraordinary spectacle. The feeling of being alone in the world, in the middle of the African steppes, is impressive. We enjoy every turn. The track is technical but perfectly doable with our combi. However, we were warned - and this is why we brought forward our visit dates - that the park becomes dangerous in wet weather! The mud mixed with the difficult terrain would make the site impassable...

We took our time, drove slowly, stopped and then arrived at a Ranger camp to spend the night. Under a hundred-year-old pistachio tree of incredible beauty, and in an Olympian calm, we prepare our camp for the night, a well-deserved rest.

The children are playing with the camp dogs and we're almost alone here too.

It's an incredibly quiet night, with no internet at all!

The next day, we set off on track 7, which climbs to a summit and a small "village", but we don't make it to the end, as the road climbs steeply and we're moving so slowly that we're afraid we won't be able to reach the next camp before dark. But we did make it to the viewpoint, which gave us a magnificent view of the steep cliffs and sculpted rocks. Completely charmed, we took in all the beautiful images and drove all day through vegetation that is surprising for Georgia. It is said that we may see gazelles, but we won't be so lucky, perhaps another time. On the second part of the road, which runs along the border with Azerbaijan, we are checked by the rangers, everything is in order and we can continue on our way. On the other hand, we had a nasty surprise on our internet package, because the phone had picked up a signal from the neighbouring country and we'd have to pay an extra 50 euros... anyway...

We hesitated to take track 8 of the Chachouna reserve, but tiredness began to set in and we decided to go to the next camp at Vashlovani. The road is nothing more than the rocky bed of a dried-up river, so it's a bumpy ride in every direction, and with hardly any signposting, we end up taking the wrong path. It's a short diversions nonetheless.

At the second camp, the whole family was delighted to be greeted by kittens, and we even hesitated to take one with us, but we were reasonable. And that was hard, because the purr-fect therapy was much appreciated by everyone. That same evening, we met a Swiss-German couple and a Polish one. It was a great evening of discussion!

The next morning, we headed straight back to Tbilisi, and when we parked in the town centre, we met up with our French friends, the Opiny Family, and met up with a Franco-Turkish family and a French family, the Kangen-mobil, who were all boys! But they're all about the same age, so there's no shortage of games to play. As for Aélys, she took the time to chat with Enesse, a 14-year-old teenager. There's something for everyone, including the parents! We're chatting until late, talking about travel, where we're going, accommodation, life changes, the traveller's routine in a nutshell!

A pleasant little walking tour of the city with my son!

After a few days, it's high time to think about leaving, as the end of the vehicle insurance is approaching and we have to cross the border into Armenia.

But first, we have to stop off at a French bakery that also sells cheese, made just like in France. The bill was a bit steep, but what a pleasure to eat chocolatine and bread! The cheese was excellent too. Then we had to go to the launderette... and off we went to Armenia.

We thought we'd cross the border in the early afternoon, but no, we arrived at around 5pm.

As we passed through the Georgian border post, we were called to order. I'd made a mistake in the date on which the vehicle's insurance expired, so we'd overstayed it by 24 hours and were therefore breaking the law... The payment of a penalty of 36 euros relieved our wallets...

Moving on, we enter the Armenian border post.