This adventure trek starts from Pankisi Valley in the High Caucasus foothills and journeys high into the remote Gometsari Valley in Tusheti and returns to Pankisi Valley. The trek by horse accompanied by an experienced local guide. Maximum number of riders taken is four per guide. The trails across mountains are not way-marked and sometimes difficult to find and navigate due to the complex topography of the region. The are no mobile telecommunications signals in this region and no villages en route. It takes a minimum of six days and five nights to complete this trek. A good level of health, fitness and experience of walking or horse-riding in mountain terrain is required as well as personal insurance to cover you for up to 3000 metres altitude. You will need to bring your own tents and sleeping bags for overnight camping. Accommodation may be available in shepherds huts if available. To hire a guide is 50 Lari per day plus 50 Lari per night. To hire a horse is 50 Lari per day only. Pack horses can be hired to transport supplies for 50 Lari per day only. Meals can be provided for 10 Lari each. For shorter duration (2-5 days) we can suggest alternative routes to explore.
We offer return journey from Jokolo in Pankisi Valley to Alisgori in Gometsari Valley in Tusheti and back. It takes a minimum of 3 days and 2 nights to get to Alisgori. For one-way journey from Pankisi Valley to Alisgori the costs for the guide with horses return journey is incurrred in total cost of package (i.e. minimum of 6 days and 5 nights there and back). You can bring your own food. A stove and fuel is provided.
This route offers intrepid adventurers and hardy trekkers an unforgetable travel experience set in stunningly beautiful, unspoilt and untouristic region of Georgia. This is a challenging graded walk or horse-ride providing views of steep alpine valleys, high mountain pastures, rivers and High Caucasus mountain ranges, teeming with flora and wildlife. Maximum elevation is 3000 metres. Suitable foot wear, clothing (fleece, waterproof jacket and overtrousers), rucksack and personal supplies are essential. We will assist you in developing a detailed itinerary of a trek tailored to meet your ability, budget and interests. Here is a glimpse of what you might encounter on the Pioneer Treks!
Starting from Nazy’s Guest House head north along the outskirts of Jokolo village on the stoney track next to the western bank of the Alazani River. Look out for the old corn mill (still in use) on your right and tall stone tower house on the left. Horses, cows, sheep, turkeys and geese graze freely on the grassy plains near the river bank. A variety of bird life and different types of trees and plants can be seen throughout the valley. A new bridge is being built to connect the eastern side of the Pankisi Valley to the Akhetma-Batsara Road and villages on the western side of the valley.
The route passes a blue metal bridge connecting Birkiani to Omalo over the Alazani river. Omalo is the largest village on the eastern side of the valley. The valley begins to narrow after about 4 kms and the river current becomes stronger and there is more green vegetation. After a while you will meet the Akhmeta-Batsara road and proceed along it until you get to a bridge.
Turn left onto a dirt track after crossing the bridge. This is the start of the Batsara ravine. Follow the river (on your left side) along the track heading uphill into the forest. After a while you will come to a rusty broken metal fence with sign boards marking the entrance to the Protected Batsara Nature Reserve. A ranger is required to enter and visit the protected Yew tree forest. The journey uphill snakes through the forest and at places you can glimpse Pankisi Valley below and the surrounding alpine mountain scenery. Eventually you emerge onto a meadow, a good place to rest, before climbing further until you reach the Tbatana pasture and shepherds huts.
From Tbatana pasture you get excellent views of the Ilto Managed Reserve and Khevsureti ranges to the west, and Tusheti Nature Reserve and Tusheti National Park to the east. During the summer months Kist shepherds take their sheep to high pastures to graze and produce cheese. The traditional process can be seen. You can see eagles from this vantage point.
At the northern end of the Tbatana pasture, at the bottom of the steep slopes there is a small lake. Look out for the frogs and birds that use this habitat. The water is not clean to drink or bathe in. There is a natural spring near the lake and water is drinkable without treating. The panoramic views of the High Caucasus ranges of the Tusheti Nature Reserve (east) from the pasture summit are splendid on a clear day.
You can picnic on the pasture. It is possible to climb the summit by foot to explore. It is an energetic walk to Tbatana summit at 2400m. By horse or walking start from the small lake heading north and pick up the trail as the summit flattens and broadens.
Continue heading in northerly direction following trail. To the west are the Khevsureti ranges (up to 2800m) and east Tusheti ranges (up to 3200m). The Tbatana range is interspersed by crisscrossing steep valleys. The mountainous landscape changes from alpine to rock as you gradually climb. Cloud and poor weather can affect visibility and ground condition so great care is needed. Views of the Alazani River snaking below through steep emerald coloured valleys come in and out of view. The trail eventually turns north-east over rocky passes then drops down into the valley descending towards the Alazani River below.
The route veers north-east, a few kilometres south of Dibi Borbola Mountain (3200 metres) to the north. The trail descends into a steep valley and you cross the river at the shallowest point or ride over on horse. A further steep climb and descent over a mountain summit at 2800 metres takes you into the far corner of the Western Gometsari Valley and you cross over onto the northern banks of the Tusheti Alazani River to pick up the trail east through the Gometsari Valley.
Following the Tusheti Alazani River east into the Tusheti National Park you start climbing gradually and crossing the river at certain points keeping. The only other people you are likely to encounter are shepherds, and their large flocks of sheep (and ferocious dogs!).
As you meander through the valley the views of the snow-capped Central High Caucasus mountain range towards Chechnya/Russian Federation appear. There are no villages along this route until you enter the region where Tusheti Alazani River meets Tsovatistskali River.
The Gometsari Valley changes course from a north-easterly to south-easterly direction at the point where both rivers meet. You head down through Koklata village with its old stone houses and towers, and can see to Alisgori village below situated next to the Tusheti Alazani River.
Above Alisgori there are alpine pastures from where you can get excellent views of the Gometsari Valley looking south-west and south-east directions. From this vantage point you can also see the Pirikita Range to the north and the Tusheti Range behind if the weather and visibility is good. There are many ancient stone towers and villages to explore in this stunning region.
Guest House Sargiri is located in Alisgori village. There is a stone shrine near the entrance. Families in Tusheti have their own stone shrine, known as a Khati, where the guardian deity of the family dwells. Women are prohibited from going near this so be aware to avoid offence. Be careful of sheep dogs.
The return journey to Pankisi Valley from here follows the same route back with some variation. From Alisgori you can explore the mountain scenery in any direction or head east towards Omalo and explore ancient villages and defensive towers dotted throughout the valleys.
Nazy's Guest House
Republic of Georgia