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Tusheti Georgia
Written by Shrinivas on July 16, 2020 Share on

Tusheti: One Of Georgia’s Most Fascinating Regions

Tucked away in the extreme northeast corner of Georgia bordering Chechnya and Dagestan in neighbouring Russia, Tusheti is one of the most picturesque and untouched high mountain regions of Georgia. The one unpaved (and sometimes terrifying) path from Kakheti to get here passes across the 2900 metres Abano Pass and can only be achieved in a 4WD from late May to mid-October. 

Tusheti, Georgia
Source: Unsplash

Centuries-old Koshkebi still remain in several villages, and evidence of the ancient animist faith of Tusheti is abundant in the form of iron shrines named Khatebilined with horns of sacrificed sheep or caprins.

Overview of Tusheti

Geographically, Tusheti is comprised of three major valleys that give names to the Tushs subgroups inhabiting it. The valley’s most important villages are Dartlo, Parsma, and Girevi. Gometsari Tushs reside in the valley of Tushetis Alazani, with Jvarboseli, Dochu or Verkhovani as their most significant villages. The two rivers eventually fuse with Chaghma Tushs inhabiting the nearby area. Omalo, the core of the entire district, as well as other villages such as Shenako, Diklo or Khiso lie here.

Also read: These Mountain Villages are Not to be Missed on Your Trip to Georgia

Getting around Tusheti

The only path that links Tusheti with the rest of Georgia crosses Abano pass which is 2850 metres long. It was built in the 80s and has only seen maintenance necessary since then. Despite this, moving speed here is restricted and this 50-kilometre long stretch can also take 4 hours to complete. Recently, however, the government has promised a massive reconstruction which should reduce travel times considerably.

To move around Tusheti needs some preparation. Around the bottom of three big Tusheti valleys, there are roads running but the traffic is sparse and cars are normally packed. If you want to hit any more distant villages without heading for a stroll, you may need to hire a vehicle.

Best Time to Visit Tusheti

Travelling to Tusheti is limited by the status of the mountain road that connects the city with the lowlands. The path is covered by snow from autumn till spring, and thus unpassable. Some sections get damaged by landslides even after the snow melts and have to be rebuilt. The road usually gets opened late May or even in the first half of June for these reasons. June, on the whole, is not the best time to visit. That’s not such a problem in a bigger village, like Omalo. But it could pose a problem if you reach some more remote hamlets and find out its the only guesthouse that hasn’t yet opened. In addition, June appears to be pretty rainy which might play spoilsport to your plans.

Also read: Things You Should Know Before Visiting Georgia – The land of wonders

Tusheti in Georgia
Source: Google Images

Tusheti High season

The High season is July and August. During these months, the city attracts the largest number of tourists. September is still perfect as afternoon temperatures are always cool, with not so many visitors around. Shepherds continue to transfer their herds into the lowlands in the second half of the month. Throughout the higher elevations, one should anticipate first snowfalls in October. The Georgian road department keeps the road open for a while and then announces the date when the maintenance stops depending on the situation. The road will remain open for the next few days, but sooner or later it will be sealed by another round of serious snowfalls until spring.

Tusheti in winter

Tusheti is off-limits in winter. There are frequent helicopter flights that are used to move border guards or medical emergencies but you’d have to be an officer, deputy or some other major local shot to get a position.

Also read: Top beautiful things to see and do in Georgia in Autumn

Things to do in Tusheti

Trekking and hiking

Tusheti is a pretty nice spot for hiking. It provides a broad variety of trails of different distances and obstacles. Even if you don’t have a tent, you can do several nice day hikes around Omalo or, even better, you can go hiking between villages. The biggest such loop you can do around Tusheti will take 5 to 6 days to complete. If you have the camping gear, many more options open up.

Trekking and hiking, in Tusheti
Source: Google Images

Two trekking trails go west into the neighbouring Khevsureti. The more famous one crosses the Atsunta Pass 3431 meters high, while the other lies farther south and uses the Borbalo Pass 2900 meters high. Two other little-visited paths, use the Sakorne or Samkinvrostsveri road and travel south through the Pankisi Gorge.

Also read: Surreal Mountain Hikes in Georgia – The trekkers’ paradise

Horse-riding

Tusheti is a popular location for horseback riding. The most popular routes meet the gravel roads at the valley bottom. Omalo is the hub for this operation where about a dozen locals are selling their horses for hire. The regular price for a horse is 40-50 GEL a day and you’ll need to employ a guide and that costs another 50-70 GEL.

Horse-riding, Tusheti
Source: Unsplash

Mountain biking

Tusheti also provides mountain biking opportunities. On the road to Tusheti lies one of the famous trips. It is downhill from the Abano pass, about 2900 metres long. Here, during the 25 kilometres long trip, you’ll lose more than 1300 meters of altitude. Just watch out for passing jeeps. There are also other paths located within the property. Tusheti has many gravel paths and tracks used by shepherds that see no vehicle traffic and therefore are very good for mountain bikes. More competent riders appear to traverse and finish the Pirikita range with an adrenaline descent from the Nakle-Kholi pass to Parsma.

Plan your trip with Pickyourtrail

Most Tusheti folk today are only going up to Tusheti during the summer. The main reason is to graze their flocks, take part in festivals, catering to tourists and generally reconnect with their roots. Many have winter homes in Kakheti, near Akhmeta and Alvani villages. Plan your trip to one of the least visited and most enigmatic areas in Georgia with the help of reputed travel agency Pickyourtrail. It not only guides the travellers in the right direction but also provides tailor-made packages that match each traveller’s needs. Find out more from our range of tour packages or leave a Whatsapp inquiry for more options. You can also download the Pickyourtrail app for Android or iOS for further details.

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