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, the largest valleys of the region.
For the larger part of the day, you will be walking on the ridge at the elevation of almost 3000m and have marvelous, almost aerial views of the both valleys and mountains around.
It is also more scenic variant for the first section of the classic Omalo - Shatili trail
Duration: 8-9 hours
It´s a pretty long hike, but the terrain is not that difficult.
How to get to Ghele:
Ghele is the meadow about 8km behind Omalo, at the place where the car road to Dartlo reaches its highest point
and starts descending into Pirikiti Alazani valley (not all drivers will know it by name). It´s possible to get here on foot
(the route follows standard Omalo - Shatili trail and the distance is about 5 km if you take the shortcut through the forest),
but often, it´s more convenient to hire a driver. Drive from Omalo to Ghele costs 50-70 GEL.
If you need to get back to Omalo, you can hire a jeep or you can walk - the return path is described as “Day 1” in
Exploring the valleys of Tusheti trail description.
This way, you make a fast, 2-day loop which contains "the best of Tusheti" - both mountains and medieval villages.
The even more interesting option is to carry on to Khevsureti and therefore finish Omalo to Shatili trek in 4 days.
This way, you will miss beautiful Dartlo village, but have great views from the Pirikita range instead - very tempting option, especially when the weather is good.
Description of the route
Trail starts on the Ghele meadow - in the past, it was the place where the elders of local communities met and discussed local issues.
If you are coming from Omalo, turn left from the main road, onto the smaller dirt road going uphill. Climb onto the small elevation, where the road disappears.
As you can see now, main ridge here bends to the north. So does the trail, so prepare for a short, but steep climb.
Luckily, the footpath is still visible. As a bonus, this section of the trail is marked by “2 white stripes” marking (colored stripe in the middle will be added once they agree upon its color).
After climbing some 200 elevation meters, you should make it to the top of the ridge. Walk here becomes much more pleasant. It alternately leads on both sides of the ridge,
close to the top and provides splendid views of both river valleys. Finally, it circumvents the Sakkhevi mountain from the right side and emerges onto a small, rocky viewpoint.
Here, the character of the terrain changes drastically - pointy mountain range is replaced by wide flat meadows, used for grazing.
That also means that the trail disappears again (as well as the marked trail, which turns left to Dochu village), but Pitsilanta hill, your next destination, is right ahead of you.
Walk towards it through the meadows, past the ruined shelter. You don´t even need to climb it, remains of the old road can be found to the left of the actual hill.
Behind Pitsilanta, the trail is pretty straightforward - just keep walking northwest on the top of the ridge.
The trail goes up and down all the time, but nothing extraordinary. Soon, it turns a bit to the right, then to the left and suddenly see Nakle-Kholi pass ahead (and below).
If you have time, I recommend climbing nearby Makratela hill (3100m) for even better views. Then head to the pass, path at this section is well-trodden again.
Nakle-Kholi pass (2918m) is broad and wide. From here, you can descend either to Verkhovani or to Parsma village, which you can already see in the valley below.
Descent route is easy to find, it starts at the eastern side of the pass. Or just come to the pointer showing a path to Verkhovani and start walking in the opposite direction.
Or look down the cliff and you will see the path winding below.
Follow the zig-zagging trail into the valley of Pirikiti Alazani. Descent is pretty hard on knees, as you will lose 500 meters on a very short section.
Once you make to the river, start walking upstream and after some 20 minutes, you should come to the small bridge. Cross it and you are right below Parsma village.
2019 June update: According to latest reports, the bridge by Parsma got damaged during the last winter. It is still possible to pass, but it's a nerve-wrecking and risky experience, definitely not suitable for kids. If you consider this route, pls reconsider it - during the next week, I will post an update if this bridge can be bypassed or not