Georgia – Immersion in magical Tusheti and the way back to civilization

The Abano Pass descent was through rose-colored glasses even more beautiful than ever thought 😉.
Passing astonished tourists, which are chauffeured comfortably up and down with the off-road vehicles, we jet down the serpentines with our bicycles.

The Abano Pass connects the two regions of Kakheti and Tusheti and with its 2,826 m.a.s.l. is the highest passable road in all of Georgia. In the Georgian winter the road is not passable for whole six months. Thus, the inhabitants of Tusheti have to decide whether they want to spend the winter there, cut off from the rest of the world. Most of the Tusks, however, move down to the valley, including their animals, on a march of several days on foot. The unpredictable weather always claims lives, whether human or animal.
For deeper insights, there is a great report from arte: “Entdeckung der Welt – Leben anderswo – Georgien – Ein halbes Leben in Tuschetien“, which we highly recommend.

With a lot of weather luck we arrived after 3 hours and one last nasty climb in Omalo, where we settled in at Guest House Gere for 2 nights. With a wonderful view and full pension we enjoyed it very much to have a real “vacation” for once. How nice not to have to worry about the food for once 😋😃. Again and again we were amazed at the variety of dishes, which our hostess conjured up for us with the simplest ingredients from her own garden. With every meal, whether for breakfast on an empty stomach or as a nightcap, a chacha (schnapps) was always served. It didn’t hurt, because in brisk autumn temperatures it always warmed us from the inside.

Super fed and refueled with new energy, we started on discovery tour to the remote villages near the border of Russia. The first highlight was Dartlo. For many people this village is the most beautiful in all of Tusheti. The medieval settlement is located in the heart of the remote mountain region and exudes a unique charm. The village is known for its historic stone towers and houses.

From Dartlo we drive deeper and deeper into the enchanted valley and after every turn a new gigantic view opens up. After 15 km, the end of the line for us cyclists is in Girevi. After that, the only way to continue is on foot. You can make a multi-day hike to Shatili.
Again and again we met hikers, be it with giant packs or in the more leisurely variant with accompanying horses.
On the way back, we earn envious glances as we whiz past them with our “burros” downhill 😎. This is partly the main reason why we prefer cycling by far.

Back in Omalo we spend the night in the same Guest House as at the beginning, where Lisa & Dario are already waiting for us 😃. Together we toast properly to our success and the engagement. Since the two, were initiated by Beni in his plan, they even dragged a bottle of wine upstairs as a surprise 🤩.

We raved about our route along the Pirikita Alasani Valley to our two friends who still have this route ahead of them. Furthermore we planned our common project to drive the Waschlowani National Park. It is characterized by its dry climate, steppe-like vegetation and bizarre rock and hill formations and is located in the very east of the country.

Before this project starts, our paths separate again and we start our way back over the Abano Pass. This time we had a top view on the top of the pass and the view was bombastic! We wanted to enjoy the hot springs again, relax our muscles and experience sleeping in the prison cell-like accommodation surrounded by mice and martens. Good that we decided to have the roof over our heads, because during the night a violent thunderstorm swept over us.
The next day, again briefly jumped into the pool, we started the 3-hour downhill gravel descent. The feeling when we felt asphalt under our wheels again after 1 1/2 weeks was terrific 😄.
Back in civilization, we make our way to Dedopliszkaro, the entrance gate to the Waschlowani National Park.

So nice to be in nature all the time, how to witness every change. Here’s a comparison of how fall affects the same stretch of road in just 1 1/2 weeks:

For even more insight into our everyday cycling life, check out our latest video:

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