One of the regions of Georgia that is really worth a visit, is the Tusheti region. It is north of Tbilisi and enclosed by the Caucasus mountains. It is the most remote area of Georgia. It is difficult to reach because you have to negotiate the Abano pass which is 70km long and mostly an unpaved 4×4 track. It is one of the highest drivable mountain passes in the Caucasus at 2826 masl. And, at least according to the BBC, it is one of the dangerous roads.
To be honest, this road is a real challenge! It takes about 7 hours to get to Omalo. And this is not a road for the inexperienced off-road driver.
The pass is closed during wintertime, from mid October to May, but we drove up the Abano pass on a beautiful summer day. Since it is the only road in and out of Tusheti, there was quite a bit of traffic.
First we stayed close to Omalo with a population of about 40. Omalo is the biggest and most central town in the area of Tusheti. Clearly, in summertime there are more tourists then actual locals. I guess not many people actually live here, because it is quite isolated from the rest of Georgia, and during winter it is cut off completely. A local told us only a few people stay behind in the winter season. There are also quite a few villages that are completely abandoned. We found a nice campsite and I took the opportunity to do a serious bike ride over the Nakle-Kohli pass.
We explored the Pirikitis and Tushetis valley (the Tusheti area has several valley’s, one with the same name). At the end of the Pirikitis valley we encountered a river too deep to cross, so we had to turn around.
Then we drove to the Tusheti valley. This one is easier to access, because all the taxi-delicas (small 4×4 vans) drive this way too, to reach the Dartlo settlement. Dartlo, together with Diklo, is one of the best kept examples of the stone towers and houses as they were built in earlier times.
Hidden in the stone walls were some old hieroglyphs. It was a nice challenge to find some of them.
Lastly, we explored the track to Diklo, which is also the end of the road. From here you can see Dagestan.
We had a very nice walk in this area trough forest and meadows.
Finally it was time to return over the Abano pass. A short impression can be seen in the video.