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Shepherds Route

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Detailed description:

Route difficulty: Difficult
Trail length: 80 km
Duration: 5 days
The price includes: transportation, food, accommodation, guide service, horses, insurance.
Price does not include: Accommodation in Tbilisi.

The best time for tour is period between: 01 July - 20 September

The price is calculated for one person in a group of 5 people.

 

Tour Experience:

The purpose of our arrival in Georgia is to take a route that was used by shepherds 50 years ago and today trail have disappeared in some places.
We met a equestrian guide in Tbilisi, who is the only one who has passed this road and is well acquainted with the trails. Our guide prepared us for all the upcoming adventures and told us that great beauty awaits us ahead.
The next day we left for Kakheti and in 2 hours we reached the beginning of the trail, where horses were waiting for us, who had traveled 60 kilometers the day before to meet us.
Based on our experience with horseback riding and horseback riding tours, our guide has selected the right horses for us. Soon we packed up, packed one horse with bags and food, start traveling.
The trail follows a forested ridge and rises 1300 meters above the starting point. Some sections of the trail were covered with thornbushes, making it difficult for horses to cross, so we had to clean them by hand. We were informed that we would not have enough drinking water before the camp so we booked in advance, fortunately it was cloudy weather and we had enough water before the camp.
It took us 4 hours before we climbed the main ridge. The last section was so steep we got off the horses and walked. Half an hour later we arrived at the old shepherds' stable, where we watered the horses and continued on our way.
Another hour and we climbed up the forest massif. Soon we reached the campsite, from where is a beautiful view of the Alazani Valley.
Our guide brought drinking water. We made soup suitable for the field conditions, we also had khachapuri brought from Tbilisi. We talked a bit after dinner about each other and went to the tents to sleep.

The next day, we woke up at sunrise, had breakfast, set up tents, set up horses, and started the journey at 9 p.m.
The trail follows a rocky slope and climbs a mountain ridge. We have to ride this ridge to the pass. Today, we will not meet water until the evening, so we took a sufficient amount of water in the morning and watered the horses as well.
About an hour after the start of the journey, we met a shepherd and saw a wolf killed by his dogs, and nearby there were bear footprints on a trail that he had to walk that night after rain.
At 12:00 we climbed the main ridge, from where the two peaks of Tusheti, Komito and Diklo, appeared, and on the opposite slop, Abano pass which connects Tusheti to Kakheti region. After 40 minutes we climb to the pass (3145), which is located 1580 meters above the camp and 4 kilometers away.
Since the weather is good and not cold, we decided to have lunch on the pass. Half an hour later we started down the sandy trail. We noticed a small puddle in the sand, but the access road to it was not safe for horses, so we continued on our way and arrived in Didgverdi, where there is enough grass for the horses.
At 16:00 we arrived at the campsite, next to a small stream of water flows. The campsite on the east is bounded by rocky mountains and on the west by alpine meadows in the direction of the Pankisi Valley.
All day thirsty horses drank, we saddle off and ran out for graze.
The third day was foggy. When we got out of the tent the whole camp was shrouded in fog, we saw only one horse that was closest to the tent.
It was 08:00 that we had breakfast and started preparing to leave. At 09:00 we got on horses and started climbing Samtsorno Pass. Soon the trail was gone and on a steep sandy slope we could only hope for an experienced guide. It was such a fog that nothing could be seen beyond 20 meters. For half an hour we could not guess where we were going, or what was ahead of us, but soon the picture changed radically, the fog disappeared and the sun shone. At 10:15 we climbed the pass (3020 m), from where the beautiful mountains and deep valleys of Tusheti and Kakheti appeared. It was so beautiful that we decided to stop for a few minutes, and then we went to Tusheti on a sandy slope, where the trail looks faint. An hour later we reached the beautiful blue lake of Samkirne. Rested for 15 minutes and walk down the valley covered by ravines. Gradually the ravines merged and turned into a river, then we went to the other side of the river and entered Ortskali, from where another ascent started and then we probably reached the most difficult section of this route. The trail is cut in the rocks. Our horses are so experienced in walking on such roads that they walk well on rocky slopes. This trail is used only by shepherds and rarely by tourists. Soon shepherds appeared, shearing sheep. When they saw us called and offered food, tea and coffee. We tighted  horses on the fence and went inside. Before the water boiled, we filmed the sheep shaving process and bought “guda cheese”. We said goodbye to the shepherds and continued on our way. An hour later, the first villages of Tusheti, Sachigholo, Vestmo and Vestomta, appeared. We arrived in Westmo and camped beside the river.

The fourth day was cloudy. The forecast showed that it was raining from 14:00, so we hurried to get to Kekhi Pass before it started the rain. It was 11:00, the shepherds in Sabue invited us for lunch, made a traditional Tush dish made of cottage cheese made from them, brought fresh herbs and lettuce from the vegetable garden, drank hot tea and coffee and at 13:00 we climbed Kekhi Pass (2600).
When we were going to the village of Zhvelurta, raindrops fell, we immediately put on our raincoats and continued on our way. The trail first followed the mountain slope, then we reached the gorge and ride along the river to the village of Omalo. It has rained during this time, but the waterproof clothing and beautiful nature help us to overcome a difficult day.
It was 17:00 when we arrived at a pre-booked family hotel in the village Shenako. We removed the wet saddles from the horses and said goodbye, then took a hot shower, tasted the delicious Tush dishes and went up to the comfortable bedrooms.
It rained all night, in the morning the rain stopped and the fog fell in the village, and then the sun came out. At 09:00 the driver came. We had breakfast, said goodbye to the host family, took memorable photos and returned to Tbilisi.