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Algeti National Park, located in the small town of Manglisi known as a medical and recreational resort, is scattered 60 km away from Tbilisi, the capital city of Georgia. In addition to its recreational and therapeutic benefits, Manglisi is also famous for its tourist attractions – to sight them you can plan a special route at the visitor’s center in the Algeti National Park. In 2019, with the support of the Association Rural Development for Future Georgia (RDFG), in the framework of the EU-funded ENPARD Programme, an Adventure Rope Park was also established in the heart of the Visitor’s Center. The park has added additional touristic value to the town of Manglisi and has become a particularly important cognitive and entertaining place for locals and foreign visitors.
Notably, there are several rope parks in the different regions of Georgia, but this one located in the famous pine forest of Manglisi is distinguished by its scale, diversity, and most importantly, its location close to the capital city, giving visitors great opportunity to explore attractive adventures over a day trip.
The idea of creating an Adventure Rope Park was generated in 2018 based on the existing local eco-tourism strategy plan, which was developed within the framework of the “Georgia in the Caucasus” project of the Agency of Protected Areas of Georgia. Back then, various interesting ideas were being developed aiming to enrich the potential of local tourism, popularize the Algeti National Park, increase the flow of tourists, create employment opportunities, and thus create the particular source of income for the Algeti National Park’s sustainable development. As Avtandil Mchedlidze, the director of the Algeti National Park points out, in the end, everyone agreed with the idea of establishing an Adventure Rope Park:
“I liked the idea very much and I knew that it would definitely help us achieve the above-mentioned goals. It was at this time that the Association Rural Development for Future Georgia (RDFG) announced the EU-funded ENPARD Programme’s grants competition in the Tetritskaro Municipality. At the first stage, we presented the project itself, and later we were required to go into the details about how much revenue the project would bring to the small town of Manglisi, how many visitors we would host, how we would comply with safety standards, etc. Finally, the project was approved by the Tetritskaro Local Action Group (LAG) Evaluation Committee – and later we received the grant”.
The Adventure Rope Park has been operating since August 1, 2019 and has brought popularity and financial benefits not only to the Algeti National Park but to the locals, as well. Adventure seekers visiting the attraction also need food facilities, overnight stays, transportation and often wish to experience horseback riding and hiking trails and the locals are actively involved in providing such kinds of services for them. As a result, the existence of the Adventure Rope Park in the Algeti National Park benefits the town of Manglisi a lot.
Within the last season (August-October) the park hosted 711 visitors, which brought Algeti National Park 11 945 GEL in revenue. According to Avtandil Mchedlidze, the park offers two types of routes – the 130-meter family route is intended for children and their families, and the route – adventure seekers – is only for adults:
“To climb over the family route, the height of a visitor should not be lower than 120 cm, and the weight should not exceed 120 kg. Another route is almost twice as long as the first one and much harder to overcome. This attraction is 240 meters long, consisting of various types of obstacles made with wood and ropes. The distance between each path is 5-10 meters. As for the prices, a family route for one person costs 15 GEL, and in case of adults route – relatively 20 GEL. “
To overcome the obstacles on the Adventure Rope Park, it is crucial to adhere to the safety standards that are notified to each visitor upon arrival. The instructor explains to them how to overcome obstacles and what the rules are while being on the attraction. After that, he puts on a safety helmet and belt on each visitor. 3 safety ropes with their safety carabines are attached to the belt. 1 out of 3 ropes is permanently attached to the rope, following the visitor throughout the whole route. This one is designed for 400 kg of blows, as for the rope itself – it handles 10 tons of blows. There are 2 instructors allocated for each attraction – though they do not follow the visitors throughout the whole route, if anyone falls out the attraction (to be more precise, the visitor remains attached to the attraction with a mentioned rope, in fact, he simply hangs on the attraction), he is responsible either for returning him to the route or helping to come down from the attraction.
Currently, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Adventure Rope Park has not been opened for the season of 2020. However, the park’s administration is actively working on a plan for how and under what conditions the park will be able to host visitors considering the current reality. Avtandil Mchedlidze says that as the instructor has direct contact with the visitors while equipping them with safety belts and helmets, it is impossible to maintain a set distance of 2 meters. At the same time, it is a bit difficult to provide timely sterilization of the attraction, as each visitor has hand contact with almost everything:
“We are currently working on a plan that will enable us to open the park soon. We do think of setting a certain quota – how many visitors we can host per day to be able to 100% adhere to virus-related safety standards. It all depends on how much time we will need to fully sterilize the attraction after hosting each visitor and how much the mentioned will cost us. Once this is defined, we will set how many people we will be able to host during the day and how much additional human resources will be needed for that. We are working on this now and I hope we will be able to open an Adventure Ripe Park shortly, within this season”.
It is worth mentioning that the town of Manglisi has great touristic potential as one can enjoy various interesting services and sightseeing here. Avtandil Mchedlidze shares the news on current works for standardizing the hiking paths in Algeti National Park, as well as for arranging camping, picnic, and cottage areas there. Soon, an open cafe will also be built in the Algeti National Park’s administration yard. Notably, all the mentioned initiatives were boosted based on the successful results achieved within the Adventure Rope Park project. Given attraction revealed that this type of initiatives attracts more tourists, thus, create opportunities for sustainable development of the park as well as increase the income of locals, and as a result, more young people have a desire to return to their home town.
The total budget for constructing the Adventure Rope Park in the Algeti National Park was 250 000 GEL, of which 100 000 GEL was allocated by the GFA Consulting Group in Georgia within the “Georgia in the Caucasus” project of the Agency of Protected Areas in Georgia. The decision for allocating the base amount – GEL 150 000 for implementing the project was made by the Tetritskaro Local Action Group (LAG) within the framework of the first grants competition of the EU-supported programme “Rural Development for Sustainable Growth of the Tetritskaro Municipality”.
Tetritskaro Local Action Group (LAG) was established with the support of the EU-funded ENPARD project “Rural Development for Sustainable Growth in the Tetritskaro Municipality” implemented by Association Rural Development for Future Georgia (RDFG). It is one of the twelve LAGs established with the EU support in different municipalities across the country. The LAG serves as a multisectoral cooperation platform and brings together civil society, private and public sectors to promote the local development process in the municipality. The Tetritskaro LAG, with a membership of 89 Tetritskaro residents, represents 20 local communities, including national and religious minorities, as well as IDPs and eco-migrants residing in the Tetritskaro municipality.
In 2018, the Tetritskaro LAG developed the local development strategy for 2018-2022 and defined the priority areas for increasing the quality of life in the municipality, which are: 1. environmental protection, natural resource management, and disaster risk reduction. 2. Support the competitiveness and modernization of agricultural and non-agricultural initiatives. 3. Promoting rural tourism development. 4. Development/rehabilitation of rural infrastructure. Within the framework of the grant component of the project, 65 rural development initiatives have been supported so far, with a total cost of more than 5 mln Gel, targeting 48,562 direct and indirect beneficiaries.
Nina Kopaleishvili – Communications Officer, RDFG; firstname.lastname@example.org