The story of the Golden Fleece and the legendary escapades of Jason and the Argonauts are all based in the country of Georgia. The ancient Greek mythology speaks of a land that is rich in gold, which actually pertains to the early Georgian practice of metal and gold processing in ancient times. This mythical allusion is just one simple proof of Georgia’s captivating beauty. Tourists from everywhere should see, visit and experience this country’s picturesque landscapes. When traveling to this part of the world, it is good know more about safety conditions and health in Georgia.
Health is an important issue both for Georgian locals and foreign tourists. Today more than ever, people from all over the world are more conscious about health and well-being. This can also be seen in Georgia as there are now more fitness centers, health centers and spa resorts in Tbilisi, the capital city. Major hotels also offer gym and other services to make sure their guests maintain good health while vacationing.
So far, tourism in this part of the world is focused on Tbilisi and a few surrounding mountains. The most stunning mountains along the Caucasus Mountain ranges are too far and lightly policed, which means there are no guarantees on safety and good health. The easiest to reach are the Kazbegi and Racha regions of the Upper Caucasus. These are also the safest mountaintop tourist destinations, but tourists with little experience in mountain climbing should expect to suffer from altitude sickness.
There is thin oxygen in high places (starting from 2,400 meters) and this could cause dizziness, nausea and a feeling of vomiting, although altitude sickness might not attack everyone. It is best to visit the mountains with a local guide or anyone who can help first-time visitors get acclimatized properly.
Other high-elevation sites to visit are the Pankisi Gorge, lovely and historic Svaneti, and secluded Tusheti, but only from June to October since there’s too much snow in Tusheti in the other months.
Meanwhile, the most common health problem plaguing foreign visitors is giardiasis or intestinal infection. This happens when tourists drink unpasteurized milk, tap water or water from the lake or river, or eat raw fruits/vegetables. It is best to stay away from these since these may be unfamiliar substances to most tourists. There are also reported cases of malaria in remote areas to the south of Tbilisi.
When visiting another country, road and personal safety is as important as good health. For some reason Georgia has more recorded road traffic accidents than any other countries in South Caucasus. According to studies, there is one road-accident related death every 18 hours.
The Georgian crime rate, on the other hand, is one of the lowest in Europe. The people are generally very friendly and hospitable. Everybody greets everyone, including strangers, a friendly “Hello” or as they say in Georgian, “Gamarjoba”. The correct response is “Gagimarjos”.
Locals will almost always invite foreigners for dinner in their home or a restaurant. And when dining out, they will always pay the restaurant bill.
As foreigners should be mindful of their safety and health in Georgia, they should understand that traveling to South Ossetia, Abkhazia and the upper Kodori Valley is not recommended. The Georgian government does not maintain diplomatic relations with these separatist areas and therefore going to these places is not advised.