On 29th August we revived our trip. Of course, any interruption of a journey in Central Asia is heavily penalised by the all-important immigration authorities of the different countries. Visa are date specific, therefore if you’re a little late your all-important colourful sticker in your passport has lost its validity. In many cases just an opportunity to queue up again (preferably in your home country), pay once more a hell a lot of money and get a new piece of paper glued into your passport.
Living that situation and winter approaching somewhen we decided to slightly reschedule our current trip. So instead of targeting Kyrgyzstan before hibernation we rather head for Laufaburg to restart early next year.
In Zurich at the airport we had our last big fat meal (Henkersmahl) before the adventure restarts.
Of course, this also to overcome any temptation to have one of these awesome inflight meals.
The flight was ok. At least they did not press you to have some of their meals – at least as long as you do not pay for them. Nevertheless, kindly note that water is absolutely free of cost.
1st we flew to Kiev, had the opportunity to discover their airport – no danger nobody may get lost. Then on to Tbilisi. We arrived around midnight.
What a surprise Prado was still on its airport parking impatiently waiting for us. As it was late we just drove the short distance to the Grand Hotel. Geographically a very convenient place, but with a huge potential for improvement. At least we got a beer from the reception fridge – at 1am.
30th July; Tbilisi
The next morning some cleaning of the car and the great sightseeing tour around Tbilisi, the proud capital of Georgia.
We admired the great skyline of the CBD, especially the famous glassbridge, popularly named Always on the bases of a world famous sanitary product of Procter&Gamble.
We had a stroll thru the old town with its very Georgian products (e.g. Churchkhela – wiki it https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Churchkhela), expected the famous clock tower to fall and visited some churches to discover some poor guy’s marriage (hopefully knowing what to expect).
1st September; Telavi
We left Tbilisi for the famous monasteries of Davit Gareja a few hours eastwards just on the border to Azerbaijan. A steep trail up to the ridge …
… then on the other side (presumably on Azeri lands) the caves of the Udabno Monastery.
Next to Omalo. The famous, incredibly dangerous road over Abano Pass to the Tusheti Region high up in the Great Caucasus. Well, at the beginning the dirt road was not really great. Full of potholes, many times rather a riverbed than a road, but passable. At least Prado liked it. Further up it improved. Graders ensure regular maintenance. Only, the higher we drove up the steeper the slope on the side, finally just going down in a straight gradient to the river bed presumably some 1500m below poor Prado’s wheels on the narrow dirt track. Nevertheless, finally we reached Abano Pass at an altitude of 2900m.
Please click on the arrow 2c the Panorama
The other side a little less steep, but not really better.
Maybe a short trailer is more explicit than 1000 words and 126 pics.
The next day time to explore the valley next to the Dagestan/ Russian border. We drove to the remote village of Dartlo. There somewhere another Khati at least with a definitely clear sign for women on what to do and on what preferably even not to think about.
Parsam – a very beautiful remote place, no more guest houses, no more tourists. Nevertheless, as far as we could observe a flourishing local economy: billy boy biltong – probably solely produced for the South African market.
Next day the long drive back. Again crossing Abano Pass.
Finally we stayed in Sighnaghi. A village on a hilltop in the middle of the Kakheti wine lands. Not really incredible, but a place to stay overnight. Somehow we had the impression once you’ve seen the South African wine lands no real need to further exploration of the Georgian ones.
On the way the famous monastery of Ananuri …
… then up the mountains to the even more famous Soviet monument to commemorate 200 years of so-called Russian – Georgian “friendship” …
The next morning up to the Gergeti Trinity Church – the local must- have-seen sight.
Later on some 10 km to the Russian border thru the famous Dariali gorge.
If in the Greater Caucasus, the obligation for some hikes.
After long studies we discovered the valley behind the tiny village of Jutta. Some 6h hike along the Chaukhi mountain range to a pass at 2900m.
Please click on the arrow 2c the Panorama
After all these mountains on the Georgian Military Highway back to Tbilisi. Lot of traffic, mainly Russians enjoying to have escaped their “super efficient” police. Thus trying to risk their life whenever possible.
On the way a stop at the Mtskheta, the spiritual center of Georgia. A visit to the huge cathedral …
… and we’re back to the proud capital of Georgia. Big shopping at Carrefour’s supermarket – all u can’t get anywhere else in Georgia.
And then, we’re ready for Armenia. More about that in the next post.