The Treacherous Road To Tusheti
Are you the kind of person who really likes to drive? Do you plan your vacations specifically so you can spend time behind the wheel of a 4WD vehicle? If so, brother, have we got a place for you - Tusheti. For those readers who are not yet familiar with the area, Tusheti is a remote mountainous area in the northeast section of the Eastern European country of Georgia. Other than flying in with a helicopter, vehicularly speaking, it can only be reached by driving a 4WD vehicle up the treacherous road to Tusheti.
The road in question can be found in the proximity of the Dagestan border and will take you over the Abano Pass to Tusheti main village Omalo. It is reputed to be one of the world’s worst roads. The road to Tusheti actually goes up to practically 10,000 feet above the area’s multiple gorges. At the start, it is 5,413 feet above sea level and at its end, it is 14,740 feet above sea level. Created in 1978, some think of it as less of a rod and more of just “a pass”. It’s open between May and October and some nearby “homestays” are not available to tourists until July.
Chris Wills of the blog Tusheti Life has made the infamous drive. He describes it as a true “white-knuckle drive of the first order” but he is quick to mention highlights--such as the waterfalls that serve as a “natural car wash”--as well. He also made a special note about a local spa which is nothing fancy but still well worth a stop up the perditious pass. It is said by the locals to be “a giver of life” and is supposedly has the power to revitalize your body and heal all sorts of illnesses. Again though, the drive itself is definitely not for beginners. The narrow dirt road that scales the mountain is sometimes almost not wide enough for even one vehicle and yet technically is used as a two-way road. Make no mistake, it can be deadly. The higher you go, the more dangerous it gets. Thick layers of fog in the high altitudes are a regular occurrence. Your visibility can be reduced to one foot which he says can make taking the hairpin curves with no safety barriers “lethal.”
Give yourself some wiggle time on your driving time. If there is a heavy rainstorm you could discover that actual portions of the pass have literally been washed away. Sometimes the Caucasian mountainside metamorphic rock gets washed down and blocks the road. There are no turnouts for the most part so when this happens you pretty much either have to stop to move it or drive over the rocks. Again with no safety rails, this could be very dangerous. Yet another reason why the road to Tusheti was included in the 2014 BBC program World’s Most Dangerous Roads. Also, the roads in Georgia’s remote Svaneti and Tusheti regions were featured on the Dutch edition of World’s Most Dangerous Roads. Wills reiterates that despite the potential danger of the rugged road itself, the trip and the area remains unique and “very special”.
(All of the images are courtesy of the original owners unless otherwise indicated.)