The Greater Caucasus / extended trail

Georgia

1180 

This adventure is an extended version of the Greater Caucasus trail, one of our horse riding crown jewels. Tusheti is a magical land of brave horses, stunning views and friendly Georgian highlanders. During eight days on horses we will reach spectacular passes at 3000 meters, cut through beautiful valleys, cross mountain streams and amaze at this legendary region of Georgia. Evenings and nights at local, family-ran guesthouses, will quickly pass while we eat, drink, share stories and enjoy the wild, majestic Caucasus.

  • Days overall
    12 days
    Days in saddle
    8
  • Group size
    12
    Available
  • Standard
    highlanders' hospitality (under roofs and in beds)
    Luggage
    no limit kg
    Food
    local cuisine, vegetarian available
  • Skills
    walk, trot, canter

The extended Greater Caucasus ride is a longer version of our “crown jewel” trail in Georgia. It’s quite an expedition through wild, remote, largely uninhabited Tusheti, a high mountain region in North-Eastern Georgia. We spend 12 days in Georgia of which 8 days in the saddle, exploring this beautiful area on local Tushetian horses, a relatively small-framed, brave, tough and smart saddle horses that have been with Tushi highlanders since… forever. Their perfect balance, easy temper, endurance and experience makes them great horses for riding in this demanding, high mountain landscape. Hot water, electricity and mobile coverage might not be always available and the region stays largely pristine also being a national park and partially a protected nature reserve. We dash through wild mountains, climb high passes, ride ridges and descend to small settlements deep in the Caucasus mountains.

Tusheti is populated by highlanders, called Tushetians in English, or Tushebi / Tushi as they call themselves. Tusheti is scarcely populated, with less then a thousand people living there from late May to early October. From Spring to Autumn Tushis herd and raise thousands of animals, farm and… welcome guests, which is their favourite thing to do. Tushis, as all Georgians, love hosting guests. In cold months of the year the region empties with a dozen of people staying for Winter while the region is cut off from the rest of the world. The famous road to Tusheti disappears under snow and becomes nearly impassable until it reopens in late Spring.

Our Georgian team consists of highlanders, some of them nearly literally raised in the saddle. Their knowledge of Tusheti, vast experience in trail riding and famous Georgian hospitality makes them the best people for the adventure ahead and will give you a great insight into Tusheti and Georgian culture as a whole.

We spend most nights in relatively comfortable local guesthouses, in beds and linen, usually with hot water and electricity. Hosted by local families we get to see everyday life in Tusheti, taste local food and products and enjoy the simple and beautiful life high in the mountains of this unique region.

Everyday rides take about five hours. Due to the landscape this tour is moderately paced, with long climbs on horses but also great spots for fast canters. In some places, especially while going down steep or slippery slopes on some parts of the trail, riders dismount and lead their horses.

What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.
  • 2 nights at a hotel in Tbilisi Tbilisi
  • 9 nights at guesthouses in Tusheti
  • Breakfasts in Tbilisi
  • All meals in Tusheti (brakfasts, lunches “to go”, dinners)
  • Transfers to and from Tbilisi airport (on first and last days of the tour)
  • Transport from Tbilisi to Omalo and back
  • Horsemen and guides during the entire ride in Tusheti
  • English-speaking pilot during the entire tour
  • Horse with full tack and equipment
  • Tourist insurance covering high-risk sports
What is not included in this tour?Items that are not included in the cost of tour price.
  • Flight tickets to and from Georgia
  • In Tbilisi: two dinners – on the first and last nights
  • Minor personal expenses (souvenirs, additional snacks, admission tickets, etc.)
  • Optional: single room supplement (where available)
  1. Day 1 Arrival

    All riders are picked up from the airport (in Tbilisi) or a bus stop in Tbilisi (for flight arrivals to Kutaisi) and taken directly to the hotel. Due to different arrival hours no group activities are planned on that day until evening. Riders are free to roam Tbilisi in their spare time. Around 8 PM we will gather all riders go to a dinner together.

  2. Day 2 Road to Tusheti

    Right after breakfast cars will arrive at the hotel and take the group north-east, to Kvemo Alvani. The first part of the drive takes approximately 2 hours. Next, we’ll switch to 4×4 vehicles and drive to Upper Omalo. It’s just a bit over 70 kilometers, but it’s a 4-5 hour drive. The road runs through the Caucasus, through the Abano Pass (2836 m elevation). It’s one of the most dangerous, yet most beautiful, roads in the world. We’ll reach our destination in the late afternoon. We’ll settle in our guesthouse in Upper Omalo and have a welcome-to-Tusheti dinner together.

  3. Day 3 Adventure time!

    In the morning, after breakfast, we will pack our stuff for the trail, meet our horses, strap luggage to saddles and start our ride. First, we head to Shenako, a small village with a picturesque, old church. The path is wide and not too steep; a good place to test our horses. We will reach Diklo, our place for this night, in the afternoon. The other side of the valley is already Dagestan. In between – a no man’s land.

  4. Day 4 To the North

    That day, the group will have to make it through a mountain ridge. The path is quite scenic and a bit of a climb. After making it to the top we have to go down, riders will need to get off their horses and lead them for about an hour. Then we’ll hop in the saddles and continue through the forest, a small village and on a local dirt road. Our destination is Dartlo, one of the most beautiful villages in Tusheti and an important heritage place for all Georgians. We stay for dinner and night in a local guesthouse. It’s worth trying local beer made by our hosts.

  5. Day 5 Foregone borderland

    Today we have a shorter ride ahead of us. Starting in Dartlo, we’ll be riding west. The wide and firm path leads down the riverbank, which gives a chance to canter a bit. Along the way, stone towers appear every once in a while. In the past days, those towers were both defensive objects as well as passed fire and smoke signals. In the afternoon, we reach Girevi, where we will have dinner and stay for the night.

  6. Day 6 Nakaicho pass

    After breakfast we ride out for one of the most pictureque day of the trail. It’g going to be a long day as today we climb up the stunning Nakaicho pass. It’s one of the highest points of our trail, with views stretching to all sides of the Greater Caucasus. After leaving our guesthouse and a short ride along the local road we cross a stream and begin our climb. After 2-3 hours we will make it to the top where we stop for a short lunch break. Then we have to go down. The path is rocky and narrow in multiple spots, so we will walk and lead our horses for about an hour before we mount up again. We will continue riding through a forest and along the mountainside before reaching Jvarboseli, a beatiful village on the riverbank where we stay for dinner and night.

  7. Day 7 Road through Tusheti

    After breakfast we leave Jvarboseli behind and head towards Omalo. First we will ride along the river and then on the dirt road, with a stunning view to the Southern parts of Tusheti. The road is perfect for happy canters, so we will use the opportunity. On our way we will ride through Bochorna, one of the highest permanent settlements in Europe (2345 m elevation). We’ll stop for a lunch brake on the way and then we still have an hour or so riding before we reach our guesthouse in Omalo.

  8. Day 8 Secluded village

    After breakfast we saddle our horses and ride out again, we’ll be back to Omalo tomorrow in the afternoon. We ride down to lower part of the village and then continue along the road we drove on when arriving to Tusheti. We continue along the stream and then turn into a small, local road leading to Shtrolta, a tiny, nearly uninhabited village. We stay for the night in very basic conditions, in a spot ran by an elderly couple. It’s the most ”uncomfortable” spot during our tour, yet you will love it.

  9. Day 9 Oreti lake

    After breakfast we leave Shtrolta. A long day ahead of us, well worth the effort. After leaving the village we go up the forest and continue along the ridge to one of the most beautiful and panoramic spots in Tusheti, a tiny mountain lake called Oreti. Upon reaching it we will dismount and enjoy a lunch break with absolutely stunning views to the Northern part of the region. After break we mount up and ride to Omalo. In an hour or so we will reach a steep path in the forest, where we will dismount and lead our horses down. Upon reaching a clearing we’ll mount up again and ride to Omalo on a dirt road, both slowly and cantering. In the afternoon we’ll be back to our base in Omalo for dinner and night.

  10. Day 10 Ridge and pass

    Today we ride out light-weigth, with no luggage. Our destiantion point today is the Sakheo pass, the highest spot of our trail (3000 m elevation). We ride out of Omalo, have some horse climbing ahead of us and then continue along a very picturesque ridge. The narrow path is surrounded by beautiful vegetation, but the most stunning part is the view to the Caucasus and villages down in the valley. We’ll stop for lunch at the pass and then ride back the same way we came to Sakheo. On the way we’ll lead our horses for a few moments so they could rest a bit before we jump in the saddles and canter to Omalo for the last time during our tour. In the evening we will gather for our last dinner and party in Tusheti.

  11. Day 11 Back to Tbilisi

    After breakfast we’ll take seats in our 4×4 cars and drive back to Tbilisi. Riders can rest a bit and refresh before we head out to our last dinner together in the city center.

  12. Day 12 Farewell to Georgia

    The group leaves Georgia. All riders are taken to the airport in Tbilisi or to a bus stop (Kutaisi airport flights).

The guide might modify the route according to weather conditions and group's riding skills.
fot. z archiwum przewodnika
fot. Mateusz Kochanowski
fot. z archiwum przewodnika

In Tbilisi, the group stays at a European standard family hotel. In Tusheti, however, we stay in guesthouses, hosted by local families. These places are modest but neat. We usually have access to running water, but it might not always be hot. Electricity is usually available. Sleeping bags and mats are not required for the tour – we always sleep under roofs, in beds and in clean bedding.

In Tbilisi, breakfasts are served at the hotel (on the second and the last day). Other meals in Tbilisi (two dinners – on the first and last night) should be purchased individually. During all other days all food is provided. We have breakfasts and dinners at places where we stay for nights. Lunches ride with us and are had during breaks.

Meals in Tusheti are traditional dishes, typical shepherd food: mainly vegetables, mutton and local cheese of various sorts. Drinks – apart from crystal clear water – are herbal infusions, wine, and chacha (local moonshine). In Tbilisi, regular restaurants are common, serving all kinds of dishes.

 

Equipment

We use typical Caucasian saddles. They are quite different from the English and Western-style saddles and very comfortable for both horses and riders, especially for high mountain riding. Steel saddle bows are set on wooden benches. This construction is covered with a moderately soft “pillow” made of leather. The pillow is kept in its place by a strap, usually made of leather, which serves as a girth part at the same time. Tail docks are common.

Stirrup leathers in Georgia are quite short – Georgians practice a distinctive seat: legs in the front, knees high. Stirrups are quite simple and wide, allowing trekking shoes to fit inside well. Bridles are also simple, made the usual way. We use bits.

Caucasian / Georgian moutain saddles often raise interest, as they are different than classical, English or Western-style ones. Fairly unknown in the West these saddles are very comfortable for long and steep rides. Pommels and cantles are quite high to stabilize riders in mountainous terrain and the pillow seat absorbs bumps very well. This non-standard construction is also quite practical when it comes to attaching larger quantities of luggage.

 

What you should take with you

The trail in Tusheti leads through mountains partially not accessible by car. This is why we don’t have a transport vehicle assisting us at all times and all luggage for the trail has to be transported on horses. While it’s a good idea to travel to Georgia with a reagular suitcase, riders will need to re-pack for the horse trail. All belongings you won’t need for the trail can stay safely in our guesthouse in Omalo. All your personal stuff for the trail goes on horses, so the overall weight of the trail luggage shouldn’t be more than 12 kg per person. All items should be packed in waterproof, soft bags or sacks that can be strapped to the saddle.

  • passport
  • cash, USD or EUR
  • electronic devices, e.g. camera
  • waterproof bag(s) for the trail (sailing or kayak type ones are great)
  • handy backpack or bag (for documents, phone, etc.)
  • canteen or other water containers (it might be an empty plastic bottle)
  • flashlight; head flashlights are quite handy
  • sunscreen
  • head cover against the sun
  • trekking shoes, waterproof ones advised
  • raincoat / waterproof jacket
  • flip-flops for showering
Date Trip Status Price Spots  
9 July 2024 - 20 July 2024
Full group
1180 
0
27 August 2024 - 7 September 2024
Available
1180 
6