Written by Tinatin Bujiashvili
“Travel as much as you can, As far as you can, As long a you can.
Life’s not meant to be lived in one place.”
Tusheti is a really Must place to visit. The road is quite dangerous. The landscape is made up from a mixture of shale and rock knitted together by centuries of alpine woods.
The journey starts from Pshaveli with the road taking you over Abano pass and onto Omalo, which is the main village of Tusheti. The journey takes more then 6 hours.
Abano pass is a mountain pass located at 2 850 m from sea level and is the highest drivable mountain pass in the Caucasus. The pass was built in 1978 and is only open during the summer months from around May until to October.
Omalo is the largest village in Tusheti and regarded by some as the center of administration and a good starting point when embarking on a trip around Tusheti.
The visitor centre is located in village Kvemo Omalo. In 100 meters from the board protected area signboard is situated the administrative complex of Tusheti Protected Areas – one of the most beautiful buildings in the area. The place is surrounded with pine trees. To the east from the visitor centre there is a scenic viewpoint with a breathtaking panoramic view. You can see several villages from there, such as: Kumelaurta, Tsokalta, Chiglaurta and Khakhabo.
The visitor centre has plentiful displays, maps and material on Tusheti, and can provide walking route and accommodation information, and help arrange guides, horses and vehicle transport.
Historically, Tusheti comprised four mountain communities: the Tsova (living in the Tsova Gorge), the Gometsari (living along the banks of the Tushetis Alazani River), the Pirikiti (living along the banks of the Pirikitis Alazani River) and the Chaghma, living close to the confluence of the two rivers). Administratively speaking, Tusheti is now part of the region of Akhmeta, itself part of Georgia‘s eastern region of Kakheti. The largest village in Tusheti is Omalo.
Traditionally, the Tushs are sheep herders. Tushetian Guda cheese and high quality wool was famous and was exported to Europe and Russia. Even today sheep and cattle breeding is the leading branch of the economy of highland Tusheti. The local shepherds spend the summer months in the highland areas of Tusheti but live in the lowland villages of Zemo Alvani and Kvemo Alvani in wintertime. Their customs and traditions are similar to those of other eastern Georgian mountaineers.
One of the most ecologically unspoiled regions in the Caucasus, Tusheti is a popular mountain-trekking venue.
Pork is tabooed in Tusheti. Farmers will not raise pigs and travelers are usually advised to not bring any pork into the region. Locals will however eat pork themselves when not in Tusheti.