The nice hike which explores some of the less frequented parts of Tusheti.
This hike explores some of the less frequented parts of Tusheti. You will visit Khakhabo village, cross Apakurta pass and end in Gogrulta village,
beautifully located on a cliff above Gometsari Alazani valley. The whole trail is marked, except for the short section before Gogrulta.
The trip can be extended to Dochu and Omalo and so form a nice 2-day loop.
Duration: 1 day
You cover only 12 km, but the trail goes up and down all the time.
There is no public transport to Tusheti. To get to Omalo, you will need to hire a driver with 4WD. If you are traveling from Tbilisi, you will first need to get to Kvemo Alvani village - this can be done by marshrutka or a taxi.
The marshrutka departs from Ortachala bus station in Tbilisi at 9.am and arrives at Alvani two hours later (price 7 GEL). Drivers are used to tourists and often arrange them further transport to Tusheti. Just confirm with the driver that he is going all the way to Alvani, they sometimes try to drop passengers in Telavi in order to make them hire another taxi to Alvani. Or they simply want to hook you up with the jeep driver from Telavi but that is OK if the price is right.
If you want to take a taxi from Tbilisi to Alvani instead of a bus, the price can be anywhere between 50 and 100 GEL (it grows with your distance from the Ortachala station :))
In Kvemo Alvani, the bus or taxi will drop you at the main (and the only) junction. This is the place from which depart jeeps to Tusheti so if you get here before noon, you should be easily able to hire a driver.
The ride to Omalo takes about 4-5 hours and costs 70 GEL per passenger (or about 300 GEL for the whole jeep). BBC once placed it among the "10 Most Dangerous Roads in the World", but with a good driver, it definitely doesn´t feel like that. In navigates pretty steep mountainside but the road is usually wide enough and unless you are passing another car and need to navigate to the very edge of the road, there is no reason to feel nervous. Still, the accidents happen here and the road claims a few lives every year. Therefore, even if you have your own car, for this stretch of the road, it may be better to use the service of the local driver.
Hitchhiking can be "hit or miss" since jeeps traveling to Omalo are usually booked by tourists and full. And even when they are not, tourists might be reluctant to pick someone who just walked a few hundred meters beyond the departure point and raised a thumb (especially if he is dressed up in Arc´teryx gear like a couple of "travel hackers" we saw there the last time :)). Professional drivers will rarely pick you up for free. Therefore, your best bet will be locals heading to Omalo for a visit - but it may take a while until some show up.
Another option is the Kamaz truck which brings supplies from the lowlands to Omalo. These drivers usually pick up passengers for a symbolic price but the truck has no fixed schedule. It departs like each other day in the morning, so it can´t be relied upon.
Well, you will have to walk. The most obvious option is to continue further west - on another day you can reach Verkhovani village
and connect other trekking trails (path leads through villages Vestomta, Iljurta and Jvarbosani and is partially marked).
Another tempting option is to continue north to Dochu village - trails starts to the west of the village, descends to the river, crosses it on a bridge and climbs to Dochu.
From Dochu you can walk back to Omalo, this whole walk should be doable in a day. However, bridge is currently in a bad condition and crossing is quite dangerous.
If you want to take this route, better ask in Tourist Centre about its condition.
Description of the route
From Upper Omalo head to the south - stay on the marked path on the right side of the hillside. You will reach the car road and then turn to the right.
Follow the car zigzag road. After approx. 1 km you can see a big road sign for the direction Shenako and Diklo. But today we are going in an opposite direction - turn right behind it.
Pass a small quarry on the right and continue on the road which ends at a house. Keep still the same direction, passing by the house until you reach an break, where there is a sharp drop-off.
After the break go right down the meadow, following the trail towards the opposite forest, down the hill.
Continue through the forest, following the zigzag trail still down until you reach the river.
At the river, cross the wooden bridge (N 42°22´17,8´´ E 045°37´11,0´´, elevation 1663 m) and right after the bridge, take the trail to the left and climb up the hill in the zigzag trail.
You will leave the forest approx. after 3 km as the forest changes gradually into a meadow,
you will turn out on a meadow edge and then take the trail to the left up the hill.
Keep this direction and after approx. 0.5 km you will reach the village Khahabo.
Pass the village and immediately turn right onto a small trail - big road leads to Chiglaurta, so is useless to us. After 50 m turn right to the road up.
The road ends up with a small field. Do not go beyond the road's end as the field is a holy place (Mariamtsminda). At this point turn sharply to the left and cross the meadow diagonally up.
From Mariamtsminda the path is relatively visible. Keep up on the top of the meadow, then take the upper path going to the forest.
The path leads through the forest more or less on the contour line. On the road, you will cross the small stream (not recommended to take the water here as there are often cows).
After some 400 m from the stream the trail turns up, but the path is hardly visible. Here you come to the meadow when there is no path.
Keep diagonally up and on the top of the meadow turn right up when you reach another meadow. Here turn right and up through the lower part of the meadow.
The trail leads up to the large meadow on the slope below the top of Kekh mountain chain. To the forest, the path is clear at this point.
The meadow is called Shantlovani (marshland). It should be crossed roughly in the middle. Khakhabo village is visible on the left side far below.
The path is hardly visible, keep up to the left towards the groups of pine trees. Reaching the mountains chain turn to the right for some 100 m and then follow the path turning to the left
roughly on the contour line between the trees. You cross the small stream and keep on the path leading slightly up to the Apakurta pass (2551m).
From the pass, you have nice views on the Gometsari valley. The closest village is Gogrulta, the more distant village further to the right is Dochu.
The path goes down and right. You will go through a small stream (it is possible to take the water, but the water flow is weak).
From the stream, the path leads zigzag down through the meadow called Apakurta. You can also go rightly down to the first trees of the pine and birch forest.
The path zigzags through the forest and leads down to the large meadow. Here the remnants of the houses are located (the winter houses of Gogrulta – Gogrulta boslebi/Lashkaraulta).
Go down along the houses.
At the lower end of the meadow, take the path through the forest further down up to the river Oritskali. Here firstly cross the stream which conjuncts to the main river (you can jump over).
Oritskali has to be crossed through the shallow ford. After the ford, go a few steps against the stream and below the tree starts the ascent to Gogrulta.
Zigzag the path through the small forest with views back to Lashkaraulta.
Once you reach a small ridge, turn to the right and keep on the path staying up on the elevation. The ruins of a tower will be seen on the left on the opposite hill through the meadow.
Pass along the ruins of the house. Some 200 m above the house, the view on Gogrulta opens in front of the path. Continue on the path going now roughly on the contour line
until you reach the Gogrulta village. The village is spectacularly positioned on a high cliff and offers great views of Gometsari Alazani.
Important notice: Once you reach the village, the sacred place (Mariamtsminda) is on your left side above. No women allowed on the sacred hill, but keeping on the path is acceptable.
Description of trail was written by Slavomir Horak, expert on Tusheti and organizer of Tusheti Help Camp, annual volunteering event.
His website about Tusheti in Czech language can be found here
Most of the photos were provided by Tusheti National Park Administration. Thank a lot to both of them!