Georgia Absolute Musts
Most Beautiful Natural Spot
As I said before, there are no ugly places in Georgia so choosing Georgia Absolute Musts is both extremely difficult and easy at the same time, but the most beautiful of them all is probably Svaneti region. It’s surrounded by 3000-5000 metres peaks and it’s the highest inhabited area in the whole Caucasus. There are also more hikes than in Kazbegi region, so if you came to Georgian in order to stretch your legs, that’s the place to go.
The landscape in this region is dominated by high mountains which are separated by dramatic gorges. The main town in this area is Mestia, which during our trip was extremely hard to get to, due to the heavy road construction. The town is located at an elevation of 1500m and it’s abundant of tall stone towers (Svan towers). Traditionally all Svan families (which is a local tribe in this region) possessed a towed in order to protect themselves not only from avalanches but also from vendetta that could be waged by fellow Svans. This tradition had been present in this region up until 2004/2006 when Mikheil Saakashvili cracked down on this “barbaric” practice.
Best City / Town
I never thought I would say so, considering that I’m not really a beach person, but the best Georgian city/town is, in my opinion, Batumi. This city where Stalin used to live 16 years prior the Russian Revolution, is located on the Black Sea coast and it hasn’t lost any of its grandeur. It’s still Georgia’s summer capital, probably partly due to its semitropical coast, and partly because of its charming fin-de-siècle architecture mixed with some modern glass-and-steel constructions.
In the summer it’s packed with Georgian, Russian and Ukrainian tourists and its buzzing nightlife is unique in the whole Caucasus. It’s also the most “western” city, so here you’re most likely to feel at home. It’s hard to couchsurf in Batumi, due to the fact that here everything revolves around tourism and the majority of locals are somehow connected to it, but don’t worry, there are plenty of hostels to choose from.
Best areas for hitch-hiking
There are no bad areas for hitch-hiking in Georgia, as the whole country is immensely beautiful and in all its parts people are friendly and won’t refuse you a lift. However, we would definitely recommend travelling along the Georgian Military Road (Georgian: საქართველოს სამხედრო გზა sakartvelos samkhedro gza, Russian: Военно-Грузинская дорога Voyenno-Gruzinskaya daroga).
It’s the main Caucasus road connecting the Caucasus (straight from Tbilisi) and Russia (Vladikavkaz).
The first spectacular spot en route is the turquoise Zhinvali Reservoir, with Ananuri fortress on its western bank.
As the road continues, it becomes less populated, scarcely dotted with settlements. Here there’s no more asphalt and the artery turns into a grit road. You go through some dramatic green valleys to enter the proper rugged Caucasus where your nostrils become full of brisk mountainous air and your ears slowly become accustomed to the change of height. The road winds on mountain sides and you only pray that the Lada that picked you up will manage the task, rather than topple and fall down the precipice with a thud that breaks the silence.
The savage scenery here is mixed with colossal concrete abandoned edifices, remnants of the Soviet era that back in the day probably served in local wars. It’s hard to drive in this challenging mountainous terrain, so it takes a while, but eventually you get to your destination where moody Kazbegi mountain commands respect.
written by: Ania