Tusheti


Tusheti is pristine, remote region located at the northeast of Georgia, east of Khevsureti. It doesn´t have as dramatic scenery as Svaneti, but its more than enough compensated by its serene atmosphere.

Tusheti lies in the northern Georgia, behind the main Caucasus ridge - so technically its already part of northern Caucasus. With the rest of country is connected by Abano pass (2850m), which is opened only some 5 months in a year. Tusheti is actually not that far from Tbilisi, but road behind Alvani is in a very bad condition - thats also the reason why 200 km long trip takes over 6 hours and region is not swarmed by tourists. Even though their number is raising steadily (9000 visitors in 2015).

> Tusheti

Most of the trekkers are concentrated in Pirikiti Alazani valley between villages Omalo and Parsma, as right here are probably the most pictoresque stone villages. Daytrip from Omalo to Diklo is also quite popular. Gometsari Alazani valley or beautiful Oreti lake get considerable fewer visitors.

Road to Tusheti usually opens in May, when bulldozer clears the path and Tush shepherds herd their flocks of sheep through Abano pass to summer pastures in the mountains. They are followed by tourists and hikers willing to experience this unique area. Also many Georgians from lowlands travel here to “reconnect” with their ancient homeland. Then in the autumn (usually end of September) shepherds drive their flocks back to the lowlands and road soon gets blocked by snow. And Tusheti falls into its winter sleep again - only few dozens of people (titled "tushura") stay here during this period to look after abandoned villages.

How to get to Omalo:

There is no public transport to Tusheti. To get to Omalo, you will need to hire a driver with 4WD. First get to Kvemo Alvani village - you can take marshrutka from Tbilisi, it departs from Ortachala bus station at 9.am and around 11.am arrives at Alvani. There you will need to ask around for a driver offering a ride to Omalo. The trip usually takes 5 hours and costs 200-250 GEL. It's also better to ask the driver to take you to the upper part of the village with the fortified hill - in lower Omalo there is not that much to see (except for the Visitor's center) and you will be spared of 20 minutes of uphill walking.

Upper Omalo


Towers of Upper (Zemo) Omalo situated on Keselo hill are a sight none of the visitors of Tusheti can miss. They appear in the distance soon after you climb from Alazani valley and its truly a magnificient sight.
They were built during Mongol invasion in 13th century - originally, there were 13 of them. They offered protection from Mongolian and later Daghestani invaders. Towers were abandoned in 19th after Russia took firm control of the area, fell into disrepair and were eventually destroyed by Red Army during 2nd World War. The official reason was the posibility that they could be captured and used by the German army, but it's mostly believed that it was one of the ways the Soviet used to break the independent spirit of mountain nations.
During the last 15 years, seven towers were reconstructed with the help of Keselo Foundation. In one of the towers is nowadays nice ethnographic museum (or at least should be, I haven't noticed it when I was there).

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Towers of Upper Omalo


Castle of Love

Halfway between Omalo and Shenako lies lonely tower called “Castle of Love”, which is connected with local variation of legend of Romeo and Juliet. Since 2011 is tower accesible via Trail no. 12 from Visitors centre.
"The Castle" offers nice view of Alazani valley between Omalo and Shenako and it's an interesting daywalk in the proximity of Omalo

Legend of the Castle of Love

At the end of 18th century lived in Shenako and Diklo boy and a girl. They really loved each other, but their families didnt support their love. After they ignored the warnings of elders, they were both expelled from their villages. Nobody was allowed to help them, but still they built a tower on poorly accesible crag over the Pirikiti Alazani valley. They grew crops and hunted in the forests. In the beginning they lacked fire, but later one granma from Shenako brought it to them - after villagers found out, they expelled granny too.
Since then they lived there and had four brave sons. Then, one summer Daghestanis came, burned Shenako and Diklo to the ground and killed all men from these villages. Only four sons from Castle of Love stayed alive. They managed to defeat the army of invaders and returned to Shenako and Diklo. Here they founded new lineages and today villages can be considered their descendants. Tower was left forgotten apart from occasional visitors.

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Castle of love


Dartlo

Dartlo village lies in Alazani valley some 10 km upstream from Omalo. I think its the most beautiful village in Tusheti, mostly because of its uniform architecture - while in Omalo you can already find many houses with modern roofs, Dartlo with its stone-slated roofs still maintains its historic, medieval image.
In fact, stone houses of Dartlo are not as old as they seem to be - they mostly originate from 19th century. In the village you can find also several defensive towers, ruined church and “court stones”, where in the past local elders discussed the fate of community and solved disputes. In the hillside some 200m above the village lies also great tower Kvavlo, which in the past served as refuge from the invaders from Daghestan.

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Dartlo village


From Omalo to Shatili

Amazing 5-day trek connecting villages Omalo and Shatili, historical centers of regions Tusheti and Khevsureti - both are still quite unspoiled due to poor roads. Its intriguing not only by natural sights, but also by traditional middle-age villages dominated by stone towers

  • Duration: 5 days
  • Difficulty: Hard

From Ghele to Parsma

Hike from Ghele meadow to Parsma is one of the most spectacular day hikes in Tusheti. It navigates Pirikita range, which separates valleys of Pirikiti and Gometsari Alazani.

  • Duration: 1 Day
  • Difficulty: Hard

Hike to Oreti lake

This walk takes you to Oreti lake, nestled in the mountain slopes south of Omalo. From the lake, you will have great panoramic views of whole Tusheti.

  • Duration: 1 Day
  • Difficulty: Hard

From Tusheti to Khevsureti through Borbalo pass

The ideal pick for hikers who want to cross from Tusheti to Khevsureti and look for something more difficult and remote than Atsunta trail.

  • Duration: 5 Days
  • Difficulty: Hard

From Omalo to Gogrulta village

This hike explores some of the less frequented parts of Tusheti. It ends in Gogrulta village, beautifully located on a cliff above Gometsari Alazani valley.

  • Duration: 1 Day
  • Difficulty: Easy

From Omalo to Diklo fortress

Nice walk from Kvemo (Lower) Omalo to ruins of fortified Diklo village with nice view in all directions. Passes through beautiful, rustic Shenako village.

  • Duration: 1 Day
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Exploring the valleys of Tusheti

This nice 3-day trail explores Pirikiti and Gometsara valleys of Tusheti region. It combines visits of traditional Tush villages with some serious trekking over Pirikita range

  • Duration: 3 Days
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Tusheti is pristine, remote region located at the northeast of Georgia, east of Khevsureti. It doesn´t have as dramatic scenery as Svaneti, but its more than enough compensated by its serene atmosphere.

Tusheti lies in the northern Georgia, behind the main Caucasus ridge - so technically its already part of northern Caucasus. With the rest of country is connected by Abano pass (2850m), which is opened only some 5 months in a year. Tusheti is actually not that far from Tbilisi, but road behind Alvani is in a very bad condition - thats also the reason why 200 km long trip takes over 6 hours and region is not swarmed by tourists. Even though their number is raising steadily (9000 visitors in 2015).

> Tusheti

Most of the trekkers are concentrated in Pirikiti Alazani valley between villages Omalo and Parsma, as right here are probably the most pictoresque stone villages. Daytrip from Omalo to Diklo is also quite popular. Gometsari Alazani valley or beautiful Oreti lake get considerable fewer visitors.

Road to Tusheti usually opens in May, when bulldozer clears the path and Tush shepherds herd their flocks of sheep through Abano pass to summer pastures in the mountains. They are followed by tourists and hikers willing to experience this unique area. Also many Georgians from lowlands travel here to “reconnect” with their ancient homeland. Then in the autumn (usually end of September) shepherds drive their flocks back to the lowlands and road soon gets blocked by snow. And Tusheti falls into its winter sleep again - only few dozens of people (titled "tushura") stay here during this period to look after abandoned villages.

How to get to Omalo:

There is no public transport to Tusheti. To get to Omalo, you will need to hire a driver with 4WD. First get to Kvemo Alvani village - you can take marshrutka from Tbilisi, it departs from Ortachala bus station at 9.am and around 11.am arrives at Alvani. There you will need to ask around for a driver offering a ride to Omalo. The trip usually takes 5 hours and costs 200-250 GEL. It's also better to ask the driver to take you to the upper part of the village with the fortified hill - in lower Omalo there is not that much to see (except for the Visitor's center) and you will be spared of 20 minutes of uphill walking.

Tusheti Towers of Upper Omalo Castle of love Dartlo village

Copyright © 2016 Jozef Antala. All rights reserved

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