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Tusheti - the Lost World

We invite you to visit one of the most beautiful and ecologically clean places in the Caucasus, where they still live by the precepts of their ancestors! During this trip you will see incredible mountain landscapes, old defense-towers and ancient customs. We are inviting you to Tusheti - a region in the north-east of Georgia, which stretches along the slopes of the Caucasus mountain range at the altitude of 1650-4500 meters above sea level. This tour can be conducted in three different ways - on foot, by car or on horseback. For those traveling on foot we recommendto extend the journey by two days - details are at the end of the description.

Day 1. Route: Tbilisi - Udabno - Signagi - Telavi
Day 2. Route: Telavi - Omalo
Day 3. Route: Omalo - Shenako - Diklo - Omalo
Day 4. Route: Omalo - Dartlo - Kvalvo
Day 5. Route: Dartlo - Dano - Chesho - Parsma - Omalo
Day 6. Route: Omalo - Tbilisi

Duration: 6 days / 5 nights;
Length: 650 km;
Overnight stay: Telavi, Omalo, Dartlo.
Tour itinerary:

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Day 1. Route: Tbilisi - Udabno - Signagi - Telavi

The name of semi desert Udabno is translated from Georgian as it indeed is - desert. You will visit this lonely place and see its mystical beauty and follow in the footsteps of the first hermits who founded a great Monastery here. You will visit a place, where at once 6000 monks died for the faith, where today lies the state border between the two countries. When looking around churches and caves of the David Gareja monastery complex, you will have one foot in Georgia, and the other one in Azerbaijan. You will be amazed by ancient frescoes and archaic system of rainwater-collecting. You will see a trace of a flaming sword with which the archangel smote the dragon that came to kill St. David, and will see the grave of the hermit.

Now we will head to a hometown of Great Georgian painter Pirosmani. It was a fortress city of Signagi that gave the world this great primitivist painter. The local museum has a permanent exhibition of original paintings of this genius, while the fortress walls afford you a breathtaking view of the heart of the region of Kakheti - fertile Alazani Valley with white peaks of the Greater Caucasus gleaming behind it. It is to these mountains you will head tomorrow. But for now you will enjoy relaxed atmosphere and charm of Signagi town, its picturesque streets that date back to the XVIII-XIX centuries and longest city wall - witness of numerous enemy raids and sieges...

Alazani Valley is the most fertile place in Georgia, an place of vineyards and birthplace of the best varieties of Georgian wines. You will pass through picturesque villages to get to the capital of the region - Telavi. In the center of the old town stands the palace of King Erekle II and a silent witness of outstanding and complicated history of Kakheti - a huge 900 year old tree. A walk through Telavi cannot be done without visiting a local market. Traditional Georgian sweets "churchkhela" and "tklapi", dried fruits, jams, homemade wine and grape brandy "chacha", abundance of herbs and spices... It is a real bazaar, where you can see the ancient art of trade... Sock up before traveling to the mountains!


Day 2. Route: Telavi - Omalo

It's time to conquer the mountain. Today we are going to Tusheti - mysterious mountain region, which is isolated from the world by snow every year from September to May. To get there, we must overcome difficult Abano pass at the altitude of 2926 meters above the sea level which will offer us array of stunning views!

Surrounded by mountain ranges, Tusheti is a land of many gorges and small lakes, as well as healing mineral waters. The region is characterized by the diversity of the flora with an abundance of the oldest relic plants in coniferous and deciduous forests, which give the landscape its unique flavor. Foothills and impassable cliffs of Tusheti are home to Caucasian goats. Here you can also find chamois, deer, bear, lynx... Shaggy Caucasian Shepherd dogs guard numerous flocks of sheepon mountain meadows.

Something of a kind of a capital of Tusheti - the village of Omalo is where we will get settled for the night. You can take a short walk around the neighborhood and see the ethnographic museum under the open sky. In the upper part of Omalo which is situated at 2071 meters there is one of the most impressive tower groups in Georgia. This complex is called fortress of Keselo. Defense towers stand on top of a cliff overlooking almost the entire Tusheti - as this is a place of convergence of gorges that make up this region.


Day 3. Route: Omalo - Shenako - Diklo - Omalo

You already have a general idea of the history and customs of Tush-people. Now we will get acquainted with places where this harsh patriarchal people have lived since the ancient times, and enjoy the pristine beauty of the nature . Incidentally, one can observe ancient customs in Tusheti, more than anywhere else in Georgia. If there is a woman among you, one of these should be well remembered from the start. In villages of Tusheti you will sometimes see holy places "niche" - they look like altars built of flat stones. So, women are strictly prohibited to get close to those "niches", as well as to enter churches.

Today we will visit the villages of Shenako and Diklo. Distance to the first of them is only 4 kilometers, but a deep gorge makes the road more difficult to get through as it might seem at first glance. Shenako is situated almost at the same height above the sea level as Omalo. Here is the only active in Tusheti church - Sameba (Trinity) Church, built in 1843. And right behind this church there is one of the sanctuaries "niche" - a relic of pagan beliefs, which subsequently were adapted and became intertwined with Christianity.

Diklo is located almost on the border with Dagestan (the Russian Federation). This village is remarkable with ruins of a medieval fortress that guarded Tusheti from raids of dangerous neighbors of ancient times. A legend says that once 16 soldiers fortified in this fortress had been defending for 18 days against of the enemy army of thousands. Being one of the most picturesque places in Tusheti Diklo will get a lot of work done by your camera, before we get to settle for the night in Omalo.


Day 4. Route: Omalo - Dartlo - Kvalvo

Did you know that Tusheti is a national reserve? It was founded in 2003, and the total area of protected land is 122 050 hectares of which 10694 hectares accounts for the natural reserve, 83453 hectares - the national park, and 27903 hectares belong to the landscape reserve... Today we continue our journey through this magical mountains along the gorge Pirikita Alazani - one of the two main rivers of Tusheti.

Our destination is Dartlo village, which stands out with its several old towers and ruins of a church of the XIX century. Houses in the village have the status of cultural monuments. Almost all the locals spend winters on the plains and return to the mountains in late spring. Incidentally, from Dartlo one can climb high up the hill to the village Kvavlo where there also are several towers. Your reward for the climb will be magnificent landscape of Pirikita Tusheti, where you will spend the night.


Day 5. Route: Dartlo - Dano - Chesho - Parsma - Omalo

In Tusheti there is yet another custom, or rather - a taboo which is strictly adhered to since the ancient times to the present day. Here one cannot bring and eat pork, items made of pig skin are also prohibited. The roots of this prohibition go back to the mists of time and linked to the culture of sheep farming, which has historically been the main occupation of the local population.

But let’s return to our route. Today you will get to the upper part of Pirikita Alazani and visit three Tush villages. First stop is alpine village of Dano that today is almost deserted. Here too there is a tower, a fortress and a small church, which houses the icon of St. George. The next village with towers - Chesho. Here you can leave the car and do the next three kilometers on foot to get to the finish line - Parsma village. It is an ancient and beautiful complex of houses - towers built at the attitude of 2100 meters above sea level, where you can have a picnic before returning to Omalo.


Day 6. Route: Omalo - Tbilisi

It's time to say goodbye to the fragrant scent of greenery and flowers, which hovers over the forests and meadows of Tusheti. Last look at the towers of Keselo, another conquest of Abano Pass, and again there is blooming Alazani valley stretched here in front of you. When returning Tbilisi we will take another route, not the one we used when coming here a few days ago. The road back will be a scenic highway through Gombori ridge that seperates Kakheti from central regions of Georgia.

*** If you decide to carry out this tour on foot or on horseback, we recommend to extend the stay by two days to get to the village of Jvarboseli and the Nakaicho pass - and those are situated at the altitude of 2980 meters above sea level. Rest assured - the beauty of these places will award you for any amount of time and energy spend during this time...


Tour itinerary: David Gareja, Udabno, Signagi, Telavi, Omalo, Shenako, Diklo, Dartlo, Kvalvo, Dano, Chesho, Parsma.

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