Wild nature and warm inhabitants of Georgia

As promised, I will report on the topic of nature in Georgia. This article could also be very short: namely “stunning”.

With a little more time and leisure, however, many more adjectives can be found – and since we just extended our stay in our beautiful Bed&Breakfast in Armenia by several nights, I’m going to search for this adjective.

We left Tbilisi a couple of days ago to do some more cruising in the mountains of the North Caucasus. We are thinking about where to go: Omalo, Shatili or Gergeti, THE postcard motif of Georgia, – or simply all three places in a row? We decide for everything and start with the way to Omalo.

Unfortunately, the way out of Tbilisi is quite long and we don’t tackle the pass until the afternoon. The route turns out to be quite demanding and stony. My heavily lowered and correspondingly hard-suspended BMW dances quite a bit below me. At some point we are standing in front of a construction site, excavators are removing a rockslide, the planned waiting time is over an hour. We think. It’s already late in the afternoon, we have not pre-booked accommodation – just in case – and so we turn around. An hour before we had seen a nice meadow by the river where a group was having a picnic, they synchronously raised their arms and waved to us as we passed by. That is where we drive back to. Actually we are looking forward to rest and chill in the camping chair, but there we made the calculation without the Georgians. Even without verbal communication they do not accept our excuses and drag us to their picnic. There you can find many delicacies that we appreciate so much in the Georgian kitchen: Chatschapuri (baked dumplings with cheese), Chacapuli (meat soup with tarragon and many other spices), Jonjoli (salad of pickled whatever-it-is) – and of course eggplants with walnut paste. Served with watermelon and MUCH home-brewed stuff.

The evening flies by, we adapt to the Georgian habits and drink with them. Fortunately there is not the really hard stuff. There is singing, dancing, speeches are held (yes, we also hold them, even if nobody understands German or English and we only know a few words of Russian). At the end of the evening we are enriched by a wonderful experience and two big bottles of wine. And we know what cheers means in Georgian: gaujarmos!

The group had taken a minibus with driver and at sunset we are alone on the meadow. We set up the tent and enjoy the splashing of the river and the wild beauty of Tushetia. For the sparse population life here is certainly not easy, but we enjoy it.

The next day we have breakfast with the cows, who like the green meadow as much as we do (but we prefer tea and muesli and leftovers from the picnic to grass). Then we continue towards Shatili. Shatili is not far from Omalo at all, if you want you can reach it with a few days of trekking over the mountains. We take the gravel road back and turn north again later in the day. Here the track is a little easier to ski, the valley is wider and brighter. But even here it is not always easy for us. Half a dozen construction sites are on the way. They always insist on 1-3 excavators and a few workers in high-visibility vests and with helmets. With a car we would probably have to accept long waiting times, for us motorcyclists the excavators usually make way quickly and let us through. More than once an excavator erects a small platform next to it especially for us, so that we can drive around it. Unfortunately, these places consist of loose and deep gravel or loose sand, so that we struggle quite a bit with our bikes. Once I tip over to the side (luckily to the hillside) and get stuck under the bike with my boot, but Wolfgang and one of the workers are there very quickly to lift the bike and help me. Nothing happens, we go on. The valley is stunningly beautiful: bright, green, with snow leftovers in the crevices, the path winds along a creek. From time to time we cross small streams that pour over the road. It’s fun and nice to look at when Wolfgang drives in front of me with spraying tires, but it’s not a real challenge.

It is already after 7 pm when we arrive in Shatili, we have underestimated the time needed. So we are also glad that the guesthouse still offers us delicious dinner. Later we stroll to the adjacent camping site and destroy our wine reserves, among others with the Greek George, whom we met a few times on the way.

The next morning we consult our map and find out that the road behind Shatili goes even further and leads almost to the Chechen border. So we set off north and make a detour to a beautiful green valley with a river and poppy blossoms along the way. It is bumpy and full of potholes, but the beautiful wild landscape outweighs the effort and the muscle soreness that is to be expected by far.

Note for non-motorcyclists: bad ground is best tackled standing on a moving motorcycle, which means frequent changes between sitting and standing and thus good training for thighs and rear end.

Around noon we start our way back and later in the afternoon we find a beautiful green meadow in the southern valley, which is not visible from the road and therefore very suitable for wild camping. At the river we test our water filter for the first time, which proves to be easy to handle. We cook and prepare a campfire. Just as we start to eat, we hear a motorcycle and run to the edge of the meadow, just in time to catch George on his way. We eat together and later fight with wet firewood, the campfire still burns and warms us while we exchange travel stories and sweets.

These days with the tours to Tushetia and Shatili are our Georgia highlight. Batumi was exciting, Tbilisi an experience, we also wanted to see the Georgian army road, but the wild beauty and the unconditional cordiality of the Georgians will always remain in our memory.

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