If you’re a fan of road trips or overlanding, then you might already know that Georgia is one of those countries that can provide you with some unforgettable experiences. Make sure you don’t confuse it with the US state though!
Georgia is an Eastern European country, bordered by Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia. It is mostly known for its mix of climates and landscapes – it features some of the highest mountain peaks in Europe, as well as wine-growing valleys and resorts near the Black Sea. Some of you may also know Georgia as the site of the Golden Fleece in Greek mythology. So, as you can see, the country has a bit of everything, catering to every type of tourist.
This article tells you everything you should know if you’re planning a road trip in Georgia. We will also mention some of the reasons why you should definitely do this as well as everything you need to know about driving in Georgia!
Georgia’s Driving Culture
Naturally, we’ll begin with the country’s driving culture given that you are going to road trip there. Driving in Georgia is on the right, with a speed limit of 60 km/h in cities and towns, and 80 km/h in other areas unless indicated.
On the other hand, you can expect an eastern-type driving culture. This implies drivers usually roaming from line to line and ignoring priority traffic signs. You should also pay attention to the distance between vehicles, as drivers here tend to leave very little space around their cars.
If this is your first time in Georgia, then we recommend you use a defensive type of driving, at least until you get accustomed to the way locals drive. Keep an eye on the road at all times, even if you aren’t anywhere near a stoplight or pedestrian crossing – people here are used to crossing the street regardless of traffic or road markings.
Things to Remember When Driving in Georgia
The country has zero-tolerance towards drink driving. Seat belts are compulsory, while children under 12 must sit in the back and children under 7 must sit in safety seats.
Many roads outside of most city centres, including Tbilisi, are of poor quality and badly lit. You should avoid driving during the night or at least be cautious when doing so. You may (*will*) encounter livestock on the road. Moreover, depending on the areas you might pass through, road markings can become either confusing or missing altogether.
The Best Thing About Georgia
Obviously, the best thing about Georgia is the fact that it offers opportunities for road trips and overlanding. If we are to take a look at the map of camping sites that this country has, we’d have to zoom in a lot in order to be able to count them or find the one we need.
Therefore, it is no surprise that the country is known as a free camping paradise. Let’s take a look at some of the camping sites that you may wish to visit.
Zeta Camp – situated in the village of Juta in the municipality of Kazbegi. The camp is 2,300 meters above the sea level and around 200km away from the capital. It comes with the all-inclusive of camping – hot water, electricity, area for tents, three meals a day made with organic ingredients, and a small cottage. Check out prices and availability here.
Tobavarchkili Lakes – often called just Toba by the locals, these lakes are also referred to as the silver lakes. It may be a bit dangerous to get there, as you will have to hike and even employ a guide. While beautiful, this region is not preferred by many, as it takes at least three days for a group to reach here.
Gomits Mta – also known as Gomi Mountain, this area is a summer resort located in western Georgia. It is around 2,700 meters above sea level. Summers here are cool, while winters are cold and come with heavy snow. The entire area is surrounded by spruce and fir forests – pair this with a foggy morning and you get an amazing view!
Why Should You Take a Road Trip in Georgia?
The first thing that we must mention about Georgia when it comes to the reasons why you should have a road trip here is the fact that getting away from the main roads is extremely easy! No matter what your destination is, you can always swerve off the main road, onto the dirt tracks, and explore your surroundings. What can you find?
Well, Georgia is home to many historical sites – you probably won’t have time to visit them all. However, if you want to be impressed, then we recommend Vardzia. This is a cave monastery, built in the 12th century. Literally, this is one huge cave system that you can explore, and which has actually been a monastery.
Even if you didn’t plan a road trip, you can set one up when you get to Georgia. Given the country’s impressive potential in terms of overlanding, there are a lot of companies here that will not only rent you the 4x4 that you need to cross their country, but also the camping gear you will need.
The terrain here is simply made for off-roading – your small SUV won’t make it. Either rely on a proper 4x4 or stick to the main road. However, you will be missing a lot of the beautiful things Georgia has to offer!
Remember that you should be drinking only if you plan a long rest or you are not the one driving on this road trip. The country produces some of the best wines in the world and it is one of the oldest wine regions as well. The region of Kakheti comes with fantastic vineyards that you should really visit. Read this article if you want to know more about the region.
Georgia Even Has a Beach
You know most countries in Europe – they are packed will all types of terrain, waiting for you to explore them. The same applies to Georgia – you have foggy mountains with coniferous forests, but you can also set up camp on a beach, along the country’s coastline with the Black Sea.
Read this article about Batumi if you want to know more about the coast along the Black Sea.
In the end, it is safe to say that Georgia is made for road trips and overlanding. Don’t make the mistake of visiting this country and staying within its major cities all the time.
While a 4x4 is strongly recommended if you want to see Georgia’s most beautiful parts, a decent car will help you travel between cities so that you can see more. Still, if you consider camping, then don’t settle for anything less than a 4x4 – whether you plan on camping on mountaintops or near the beach.
Also, remember to be a bit cautious when driving here, because of the different driving style – you wouldn’t want to be caught off guard in a foreign country. Moreover, when you travel outside of Tbilisi, consider cultural sensitivity – especially in remote areas – in regard to open displays of affection and showy outfits.
This article about driving in Georgia is a guest post from Evelin of Overland Site. Along with her partner she has road tripped in Northwest African, taken a 5,000 mile Scandinavian trip and a 6-months-long overland drive from Europe to Singapore.