Tusheti is one of the most remote areas of Georgia offering incredible views of untouched nature dotted with ancient villages and stone towers.
The state owned website for the park has excellent additional information on tracks, nature and accommodation: http://apa.gov.ge/en/protected-areas/cattestone/tushetis-daculi-teritoriebis-administracia Furthermore, the national park itself also has a website: http://www.tusheti.ge/
Flora and fauna
Tusheti has alpine weather with long, cold and snowy winters. Also in June and September snow fall is possible, which can make some roads impassable. And even in summer it can be very cold, especially during the night.
There is only one drivable road to Tusheti, passing over the 1 Abano Pass at an altitude of 2,850 m. The road is unpaved and is only open during the summer (May/June–October, depending on weather conditions); there is no public transport. Visitors can hire a private 4WD with driver from either Telavi or Alvani in Kakheti Region to the regional centre of Tusheti, 1 Omalo, for 200 lari. During peak times it is possible to find additional travellers to share the cost.
More adventurous travellers can go either by foot or horseback from 2 Shatili in Khevsureti to Tusheti over the 3,400 m 2 Atsunta Pass. See #Do for more details. Shatili can be reached by taking the road to Gudauri and turning off at the Zhinvali Reservoir. Horses and guides can be arranged either through guest houses in Shatili or Tusheti, or by the Tourist info office in Tbilisi.
Fees and permits
Access to the park, and its visitor centre are free.
A 4WD can mainly be used to move between the villages. Hiking and horseback are required for anything further and the more remote villages. Guides and horses can be arranged in Omalo.
- 1 Oreti Lake (south of Omalo, 15-20 km round trip). Quietly located high above Omalo.
Horse riding can be arranged on many of the hiking trails in Tusheti either through a guesthouse or the park visitor centre in Omalo. These can range from day trips, such as a one-day ascent to Lake Oreti, high above Omalo, and back, to multi-day journeys.
- Omalo-Shatili (blue) – Distance: 73.53 km, Altitude range: 2,149 m, Total climb: 2,970 m, Total descent: 3,512 m. Download track: KMZ, GeoJSON, for GPX see GPSies.
- Omalo-Diklo-Omalo Day Track (green) – Distance: 32.09 km, Altitude range: 588 m, Total climb: 1,308 m, Total descent: 1,312 m. Download track: KMZ, GeoJSON, for GPX see GPSies.
- Omalo-Bochorma-Dochu-Khakhabo-Omalo Day Track (red) – Distance: 23 km, Altitude range: 858 m, Total climb: 1,802 m, Total descent: 2,109 m. Download track: KMZ, GeoJSON, for GPX see GPSies.
- Tusheti Omalo 2-3 Nights Round Trek (brown) – Distance: 53 km, Altitude range: 1,136 m, Total climb: 2,539 m, Total descent: 2,540 m. Download track: KMZ, GeoJSON, for GPX see GPSies.
A few locally produced handicrafts can be bought from the locals, e.g. knitted slippers.
Home cooked meals can be bought in most of the guesthouses. There is a small shop in Omalo selling a few basics (bread and cheese).
Camping is possible almost anywhere in the park, although the park authorities advise camping near villages.
Homestays can be arranged in many of Tusheti's villages. Ask locals or arrange at the visitor centre in Omalo or Tourist information office in Tbilisi beforehand.
Bigger villages such as Omalo and Dartlo offer a range of guesthouses.
- 1 Tusheti National Park Visitor Centre, Kvemo Omalo village, ☏ , . Has 7 rooms available.
- 2 Guesthouse Lasharai, Upper Omalo, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- 3 Guesthouse Shina, Upper Omalo.
- 4 Bukhurta Guesthouse (יופי של גסטהאוס), Upper Omalo, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
In some parts of the region, traditionally it is prohibited for women to enter any sacred places and churches. Best to also read the official websites of the park: http://apa.gov.ge/en/protected-areas/cattestone/tushetis-daculi-teritoriebis-administracia and http://www.tusheti.ge/
The people of that region are very hospitable and any struggle is mostly solved within the villages without any police intervention. As a foreigner, respectful behaviour regarding people and religious sites should be observed like in the rest of the country.
Even tough, Russia often claimed that rebels from Dagestan and Chechnya hide in the mountains of Tusheti, this never actually turned out to be true. Thus, there is no danger to be expected from this side.
The biggest danger in Tusheti is nature itself. The weather can change fast and it is advisable to be prepared properly, even on short hikes. Cliffs can also pose a danger and it is advisable to stay on the tracks or hire a mountain guide. Also, never forget to put enough sunscreen, especially when there is still snow around to reflect the UV light. You can get sunburnt within 30 minutes or even shorter.
Watch out for sheepdogs. They can be quite aggressive. If you are fortunate enough to see their masters within distance, make yourself known and usually they'll call the dogs away. If that does not help, (pretend to) pick up a stone, which will probably make the dog(s) back away.
The road across the Abano Pass has many steep climbs and narrow turns, besides not being paved. This is a challenge for man and machine. Every year there are cars that tumble and fall into the canyons, with consequently even people dying here. So make sure, your car's equipment and state of brakes and tires is sufficient, and you or your driver has enough experience travelling this road.