The village of Omalo is considered to be the center of Tusheti. It is from there that this round-trip camping tour starts. In all, the trip will take you around all of Tusheti across six days.
The round-trip Tusheti tour covers more than a few valleys in Tusheti, including Chaghma Valley, Pirikita Alazani Valley, Gometsari Valley, and their villages.
To reach Omalo, you’ll take the Pshaveli-Omalo road through Abano Pass. This is a difficult stretch of road, but the destination is worth it.
Upon arrival, you should go to the visitors center in lower Omalo, where they will help you to set up the tour and put you in touch with the necessary service providers, such as for horses and car rentals. They will warn you that Tusheti is a protected area, and that you can’t just set up a tent wherever you like. There are designated sites for camping.
While you’re getting situated, you should visit the medieval Keselo Towers in upper Omalo. These impressive towers have been the subject of a restoration effort since 2003, and thus far five of these imposing towers have been completely restored.
The first day’s hiking is comparatively short. You’ll set out from Omalo and make your way to the enchantingly peaceful village of Shenako, from where you’ll cross over into neighbouring Diklo to find a family-run hotel or campsite for the evening.
Three kilometres from Diklo is Old Diklo, a village and accompanying ancient fortress that have passed into legend. Old Diklo is one of the last villages in northern Georgia, affording you a beautiful view into neighbouring Dagestan.
From Diklo you will take a pass to Chigho. The pass is not difficult and you can cross it either on foot or on horseback.
This brings you into the Pirikita Alazani Valley in the extreme north of Tusheti. Here, you are within reach of the border separating Georgia from Chechnya.
You’ll have the option to overnight in either Chigho or Dartlo tonight, depending on how energetic you’re feeling.
Whether you overnighted in Dartlo or Chigho, you’ll want to take your time to explore this quaint village museum. Dartlo preserves old Tusheti-style buildings made from dry shale, complete with the traditional Georgian balconies.
You’ll also find a 19th-century church and medieval court of law here. The locals will proudly tell you about the fact that a female judge resided in Dartlo as early as the 18th century!
Dartlo also has cafes in which you can sample the local cuisine and the popular local beverage, Aluda.
Once you’ve had your fill of history and food, you will follow the Pirikiti Valley as it ascends through Chesho and Parsma. Your ultimate destination today is Girevi Village, where you'll stay overnight.
Day four sees you hiking from Girevi to Nakaicho Pass, passing through Parsma Village and across the bridge over the Pirikita Alazani River. Do not attempt to ford this river, as the current is especially fast in this area.
After crossing the bridge, you’ll climb up the watershed Nakaicho Pass, which stands at 2,940 metres above sea level. The pass affords you a spectacular view of the landscape. In August, the meadows here are filled with wild berries.
From here, you’ll be able to see the differences between the Pirikiti and Gometsari valleys. Where one is a serene place full of colourful foliage, the other is severe and rocky. It’s a wonderful juxtaposition.
Once you’ve soaked in the view, you’ll descend through the ruined settlement of Dadikurta, and then through the villages of Gometsari Valley, Verkhovani, and Jvarboseli.
At day’s end, you can spend your night in a local hostel or camp at Vardavake.
Your road today continues in the direction of Iliurta Village. Of the four churches in Tusheti, one of these is the 19th century Iliurta Church. From its lofty perch, you can see the little houses scattered across the mountains like a painting.
Nearby Iliurta you will pass Bukhurta and climb to Vestomta, where you will make camp.
From Vestomta, you’ll cross over into Gogrulta, pass through an ancient pine forest, cross the Gometsari Alazani river on horseback, and eventually reach the path up to Dochu. This beautiful village is notable for its fortified houses with their characteristic balconies.
From Dochu you will take the paved road to Bochorna. Bochorna is the highest inhabited place in Europe, at a height of 2,345 meters above sea level. In July and August the village fills up with locals, but during the remaining months only one person lives in Bochorna, the doctor Irakli Kvedaguridze.
From Bochorna you will head back to Omalo. On the way you might be lucky enough to spot gazelles at Kue, a real treat to finish your trek with!