Georgia Roadtrip (The country…) 2022

On September 11, 2022, I landed in Tbilisi from Istanbul, I stayed around Tbilisi for about 2 weeks before renting a Toyota Hilux from and driving off to the mountains.

This post is about the road trip only, check out my Instagram story highlights for more of Georgia, mostly Tbilisi.

Here’s a map of the trip:

You can find all the photos here.

This trip was all about mountains, there will be a lot of mountain photos.

On the way to Kazbegi National Park, the first stop was Ananuri, a little fort near a man-made reservoir.

After that I kept driving up north and stopped at this famous viewpoint, Gudauri View Point:

Just before getting to the village of Stepantsminda, I was greeted by this amazing mountain:

I got myself food and water at the village and drove to the national park. When I got to Juta (a village in the national park) the security/parking guard, asked me if I wanted to sleep in my car, I said yes so he asked me for a little bit of money to keep going on the road, usually, the parking is the end of that road, most people will go on a trek from there.

I found a good place and parked the truck there, and then waited for sunset:

Great views around:

The night came and so did the stars, the sky was pretty clear:

The following day I drove back to the village/parking area and went for a little hike up the mountain. But not too far because I had other plans for the day.

Juta village:

Great spot to sleep, you can also hike for days out there but I was on a road trip, not a hiking trip, so I kept going.

Drove off to the next attraction in the area, with amazing views on the way:

Great spot to build a cottage:

The next stop was Gergeti Trinity Church, the amazing backdrop to a great-looking building:

Had to keep going, I had to get to the next spot, Truso Gorge, and find a place to park, chill and sleep.

The road to get to the gorge is… gorgeous…

The valley…

Not a bad place to sleep 🙂

It was a bit cold though. In these areas around mid-September, it always gets close to 0°C at night, the little tent doesn’t cut it. The next morning I woke up to these landscapes:

Bubbly lake

I then started to cross the whole country to get to the Mestia area, first I slept a night in Kutaisi, and the next day I kept going to the Mestia area, ending in Ushguli.

This is the landscape near Mestia, beautiful.

Ushguli is an epic village in the footsteps of an impressive glacier, Shkhara glacier.

There are a lot of dogs in Georgia. Most of them are friendly if they are not in charge of a herd.

This was a bit rushed but the next day I moved again to cross the country.

I took a different way out, I drove over Latpari Pass, this pass was amazing to drive on with the Hilux, but don’t go there if you don’t have a proper 4×4 vehicle and some confidence in your ability to drive uphill on difficult terrain.

The view from the of the pass.

You can see Ushguli in the valley:

It’s fall but some greenery is still around:

The lake at the top of the pass is pretty boring:

I spent the next night in Gori, the birth city of Joseph Stalin, strangely he’s still regarded as a hero out there.

Anyway the next morning I drove to a nearby tourist attraction called Uplistsikhe, a small village carved in stone.

My next plan was to drive to Tusheti National Park, this is a very isolated part of the world at the border of Russia, not just any part of Russia either but two very well-known provinces, Chechnya and Dagestan. But I wanted to go there for the landscapes, not geopolitics.

The road to get there is closed during winter. It was late in the season but the road was still open. The road is said to be one of the most dangerous roads in Europe.

A lot of people told me not to drive there by myself unless I have experience on that kind of road, but it’s difficult if my experience was good enough for it.

I decided I would get closer to the road by going to Telavi and deciding if I would go the next morning, depending on the weather. Also wanted to be freshly rested before getting up there.

On my way to Telavi I went to a weird little waterfall that drops into a hydroelectric dam.

Just before getting to Telavi I got a nice sunset over the mountains where Tusheti is located.

After a good night in Telavi, I woke up to a little bit of rain but the sky was looking good over the mountains.

I decided to drive up the pass, it’s actually called, Abano Pass. Sadly I was not able to get much footage of the pass, the weather got pretty wild when I got to the higher parts of it. You can check some videos on youtube to have an idea. This one is pretty good at showing the area.

The drive was difficult but I didn’t feel really any danger. The first 30km are hardcore 4×4 roads but I have seen worse. The issue is mostly incoming traffic and drunk drivers.

The next 45km was nerve-racking due to the drop you see on the side of the road, no protection from falling off the cliff, and so on. If you drive slowly and defensively when you see a spot to let the incoming traffic pass, just stay there and wait, be patient, and you’ll be fine. I loved it and am happy I trusted myself to go up.

Anyway here are the few photos I was able to get on the pass, no drone photos at all.

At the top of it, there was no visibility at all, 10 meters or less, I just kept going because I didn’t want to get stuck there if the weather would turn even worse.

On the other side, after going down about 5-600 meters, the weather was much better.

The main village for tourism in the national park is called Omalo. On the way there you can see other little villages:

Fall colors:

Omalo is also pretty small, here’s the view from the ridge around Omalo:

After finding a place to stay I went exploring a bit and try to catch the sunset:

Sunset was pretty nice:

The next day I went on to explore more of the area, about 70km round trip on dirt roads.

It was a bit cloudy and rainy but it was still amazing to drive around there.

I stopped in Dartlo to explore this little village, most of the village buildings are made out of stone, impressive craftsmanship:

Great view too:

Most of the people and homestays of the village were closed, 95% of the people leave the whole area for winter and some had already left, as it was late in the season.

Kept driving down the road until Chesho:

Kept driving more to Girevi…

The road was getting less and less of a road, the rain started an hour earlier, I was getting hungry so I turned back:

Drove back to my homestay, and it rained for the rest of the day.

The next day I went back to Tbilisi, sadly the pass was still cloudy and there was not much visibility for photography.

This road trip was excellent, the scenery in the Caucasus is breathtaking.

If you like nature, mountains, and wilderness you should do this for sure.

For the rest of Georgia, I wasn’t very impressed. This was not the best time to visit with the situation in Ukraine and Russia a lot of migrants came to the city and it seemed to have changed the vibe A LOT. Lots of hate in the air.

I heard so many great things about Georgia and the people before going but for me it was average. I might go back in a few years when the geopolitical situation has been stable for a bit.

See you on the next one!