Vardzia Cave Monastery
Vardzia is a well known tourist atrraction in Georgia due to its "cave monastery" which was dug into the side of the Erusheli mountain during the 12th century. Not only does this place embody the mysticism of any such historic site, it's also an excellent spot for some splendid birding. The village is in quite easy reach from the town of Akhaltsikhe and there's a free camping site next to the monastery. The monastery itself can be visited by paying a small entrance fee. An ideal place to combine culture and quality birding!
The species to see here are most definitely Wallcreeper, Western Rock Nuthatch, Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Sparrow, Egyptian Vulture and Golden Eagle. The site also provides a good chance to observe other beauties such as Lammergeier, Red-fronted Serin and Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush. Rock Martins provide company continuously as rock trush and nuthatch shout about their presence.
The valley under the monastery also holds some interesting bushes with lots of passerines. Local Rock Buntings are very common and during migration many enchanting birds such as Red-breasted Fly-catcher, Olivaceous Warbler, Caucasian Chiff-chaff and Red-Backed Shrike are perched in the shrubbery.
In this heathed maze of rocks and boulders one can expect a high abundance of reptiles. Not surprisingly many lizards are seen enjoying a sunbath. Tortoises are present as well and at the river banks many toads and frogs are hopping around.
Don´t miss out on the splendid Trout you can try for yourself in a living room-sized restaurant in the village.