This adventurous trail takes you through the heart of the Tusheti National Park, a pristine, remote region tucked in the Caucus mountains in northeastern Georgia. This is the most isolated region of Georgia – to the north and east are the closed borders of Chechen-Daghestani and to the west, behind the mountains are the isolated regions of Pshavi and Khevsureti. To the south, Tusheti is bordered by a 3000 meters high ridge of the Greater Caucasus. The only lifeline connecting Tusheti with the rest of the country is the treacherous Abano pass. It is unpaved and very bumpy – which is also a primary reason why Tusheti is relatively untouched my tourism.
Semi-nomadic shepherds bring their livestock to the high pastures during the summer and you will briefly share in the life of the Tush people and learn about their culture and traditions.
Feeling as though you are riding on top of the world as you travel along high mountain paths, you will take in spectacular vistas each day before dropping down into flower-filled meadows where we will stay in a mix of small guest houses and also camp beside mountain streams.
Our guide is a true horseman and a trained professional rider of the Tusheti region who is devoted to his horses. Born in Alvani, Kakheti region, he divides his time between Tusheti in summer and Vashlovani in winter, just like the generations of Tushs before him. His herd of over 5o Tusheti mountain horses live naturally in a herd and are beautifully taken care of and trained with natural horsemanship methods.
09-19 July, 2022
€ 1,538 based on 8 riders
4 riders minimum. Small group supplement applies.
You will be embarking on a true adventure in a very remote and mountainous region of the world. Please be fit, have a good attitude and please don’t be afraid of heights.
The horses are strong Tush mountain horses that are tough and are familiar with the terrain since birth. This makes for a very experienced companion. Due to their breed and living conditions they are incredibly relaxed and easy to ride and handle. The pace of the ride is not fast but there are opportunities for canters should the trail allow it.
This ride consists of 7 riding days. On 5 nights we overnight in very simple guesthouses (shared rooms; shared bathrooms, sometimes without bathroom – loo will be outside) and 3 nights in shared tents (2p). The first and last night will be in Tbilisi in a hotel.
The luggage is transported by car and horses. Packing list will be provided.
Georgian and specifically Tush meals will be offered each day.
The itinerary may need to be changed short notice if the weather conditions or other factors dictate this and will be decided by our guides.
Arrival in Tbilisi and transfer to the hotel. Arrivals often take place in the early morning hours (4/5 am). We recommend to fully charge all electronic equipment in Tbilisi and purchase a Magticom simcard for easy internet access while being on the trail. After a rest you will have time to wander around in Tbilisi and check out the main sights (Old town, Mtatsminda, old fortress, Sioni Church, Gorgasali statute etc.) all close to your hotel. The old town of Tbilisi with its old wooden and often colorful balconies is quite captivating. The city brims with bars, restaurants and Italian gardens giving it a distinct southern flair. You will have ample time to explore on your own and rest as you see fit.In the evening we meet for dinner and meet our guides and talk about the adventure ahead of us.
Today after breakfast you will leave Tbilisi traveling on the Kachetian highway. You will cross Gombori Pass and right before arriving in Kvemo Alvani, you will have a short visit to the beautiful Alaverdi Monastery surrounded by vineyards and with the Tusheti mountains in the background. While parts of the monastery date back to 6th century, the present day cathedral was built in the 11th century and is the focus of the annual religious celebration Alaverdoba, a very important festive day for locals. Situated in the heart of the world’s oldest wine region, the monks also make their own wine. After lunch in a family guesthouse in Kvemo Alvani, the adventure part starts: Driving up the 75 km from Pshaveli to Omalo/Tusheti on Tusheti road will start to appreciate how remote Tusheti isfrom civilization. 3.5 hurs offroad with fantastic views on the upper part and on Abano pass. Accessible only from June till October this road remains closed and covered with snow for the rest of the year. Arriving in Omalo, the main village in Tusheti (but still with no ATMs, banks etc) you will have time to visit the Keselo Fortress, get settled in your guesthouse and have your first dinner in Tusheti. We ask all guest to leave any products made from pork in Kacheti and not bring them to Tusheti as it is considered bad luck.
After breakfast Soso and the horses will pick you up at the guesthouse. Today you ride towards Shenako/Diklo – both very beautiful old Tushetian villages. Shenako is located at an altitude of 2070 meters with a number of traditional Georgian buildings and the old church of the Holy Trinity, built in 1843. Right behind this church you will find a shrine with a relic of Tush pagan beliefs, which was subsequently adapted and became intertwined with Christianity. Even today, these shrines play an important role in the life of Tush people. Diklo with its old fortress offers views to the Greater Caucasus Mountain range and is close to the Border of Dagestan. It is an easy riding day today to get used to your horse and the elevation. You will ride partly on the dirt track, cross meadows and will have the opportunity to canter if the path is suitable. We will have a lunchbreak (1h) on the way and dinner; overnight in local guesthouse, about 15 km. of riding on this day.
From the villages of Diklo/Shenako you will ride past the village of Chigo to the beautiful fortress village of Dartlo. Today is a very mountainous trail. Let the horses find their way and rely on them. Tush horses are tremendously surefooted, strong and gifted with amazing stamina. Today you will have to lead them about one hour and walk downhills. We stop for a picnic lunch along the way. Leaving for Chigo in the morning you will see how remote most of the villages in Tusheti still are. Chigo was only connected with a small dirt road as of 2017. It is abandoned most of the year and the simple shale stone houses remind one of the past and the hard life of Tush. The village of Dartlo (1850 m) listed as a UNESCO heritage site and known for
its medieval stone towers and houses also features Tusheti’s Alazani river, a waterfall with towers as well as an old church and a pagan place of worship. Local court proceedings (sabcheo) used to be held in Dartlo. Even today one can see 12 stones placed in the semi-circle where law assessors sat and ‘created’ their law. In the middle of a circle, there is one stone for the defendant. The horses will be happy about their place near the river while you will stay and have dinner in a beautiful family guesthouse and have time to explore the village.
You overnight and dinner in local guesthouse in Dartlo.
Today your horses will show you how skillful and strong they are. We cross Pirikiti mountain range at 2.900m Nakaicho
pass and descend to the old villages of Jvarboseli and Verkhovani
From horseback you will enjoy magnificent views over Tusheti. On one side you will recognize the village of Pirikita in the Alazani valley and on the other the Gometsari valley. On the way down you will have to partly lead your horse and walk. It’s a strenuous day for the horses and the riders but you will be rewarded arriving in the Gometsari Valley with tiny hamlets nestled in the mountain sides. Overnight and dinner in local guesthouse in Jvarboseli.
Today we start camping and dive deeper into Tusheti and also the riding will be more adventurous from now on. We will load packhorses, say goodbye to our driver and will set off with our horses into remote Tusheti. The trail is narrow and steep but your trusted Tush horses know the way. Soso will show you the amazing Alasanista Valley where the Pankisi and Chewsureti mountains join. You will meet shepherds on the way and enjoy their hospitality. Soso will arrange a visit to the remote Patas dairy that was built with materials down in by helicopter. Lunch will be a picnic on the way. The campsites will be chosen according to the weather and the views. We stay overnight in shared tents in Alasanistavi. Dinner under the stars.
Today you go even deeper into Tusheti and follow shepard’s trails to the beautiful village of Vestomta. Vestomta is far off the beaten track and rarely visited by tourists. The tiny village looks like it is balancing on a peak and consists of about 10 houses. Since the village cannot be reached by car, everything needs to come on horseback. The narrow trail zigzags along a steep, forested slope for several miles. The silence dominates. We picnic for lunch along the way. Nothing hints at a human presence except for the lone sight of Vestomta in the distance. Overnight in shared tents. Dinner under the stars.
Today will be another adventurous ride. After packing your horses you set off from Vestomta and travel in direction of the beautiful village of Strolta. After some river crossings you will let your horses climb and then partly leading your horse down hill again. From the mountain ridges you will be rewarded with views of the surrounding villages, Omalo, Keselo Fortress, Strolta and Chiso. YOu will be in a higher alpine zone with forests. meadows and shepards minding their livestock. Picnic lunch along the way. Overnight in shared tents near Strolta with views and dinner under the stars. This will be your last night of camping.
Ride back to Omalo via a detour to Oreti lake. Last day in saddle but with beautiful Oreti lake ahead – From the village of Strolta it goes down to the main road and right away up to the village Chiso. From here you will climb up another 3 hours to Oreti (bottomless) mountain lake (2,650m Alpine zone). On the way you will come across flocks of sheep and shepherds’ accommodation. The water is very blue, the views over Omalo breathtaking. Bring your swimsuit if you are brave enough to dive into the cold water. (if it’s a dry summer the lake will slowly dry out, usually it is still very nice in July. Back we ride the same way for a while and then walk down to Sosos home village Kumelaurta, where the remaining horses live. You will have to lead your horses downhills for about 40 Minutes. Picnic lunch along the way. We continue to the main road that leads us back to Omalo, a relaxed hour of riding and a final canter/gallop before arrival. Overnight and dinner in a local guesthouse in Omalo.
Today you say good bye to beautiful Tusheti. You have a last chance to catch a photo of the Abano pass. Lunch in Kvemo Alvani and a visit to a local family winery. When visiting Kacheti, this is a must as Kacheti is the wine region in Georgia. Drive back to Tbilisi. Breakfast, Lunch along the way. Overnight stay in a hotel in Tbilisi. Farewell dinner.
We drive back to Tbilissi.
We arrive in Tbilisi in the beginning of the afternoon. Free afternoon in Tbilisi.
Then we have dinner in a restaurant.