The Switchbacks of Chewsureti


Dear Diary

Fortunately, after our drive over the passes of the Greater Caucasus, we made the way unscathed in our broken car and also found a gas station before we burn the last drop of gasoline.

We drive through the lowlands and stop in Akhmeta and Tianeti. We pitch our tent on a dry pasture by a river while the sun bathes the warm land in golden light again.

A farmer walks past us with his cattle without paying much attention to us. To do this, his dog comes to us, throws himself on the ground and crawls to us to be petted. He seems to have no interest in returning to his master, who is just disappearing behind the horizon with his flock.





The idyll comes to an end when I am called. Our new car is ready in Tianeti. We break off our tent and dog friendship and head into town. But the instructions are wrong and it takes forever to find the people who came from Tbilisi by vehicle.

Our new Pajero is younger, but has covered a lot more kilometers. As we drive away in our newer, nicer, better car, the two guys immediately start an under-hood inspection.

When we reach our place, our dog friend is gone. Instead, we enjoy a good view of the Milky Way again, lying next to our tent with a whiskey and a cigarillo in hand.

We cross Kasheti, famous for its wine. It is said that wine was invented here 6000 years ago. The first finds of this alcoholic soft drink based on grapes are said to have been made here. At that time, the must was fermented underground in clay jugs.

This tradition is still occasionally continued here, but the wine costs a lot more money.

In addition to an extra can of gasoline, we also want to buy wine from one of the countless street vendors. We stop at a little guy and get a taste of what he’s selling on his display. They are all clearly diluted with water.

I make it clear to the guy that his stuff is a mess and turn to go. Then the little man apologizes, runs to a small wooden hut nearby and comes back with a canister of deep red liquid. The wine doesn’t deserve a prize and is quite sweet, but it’s good enough. We take the five liters with us for the equivalent of € 10.

Uli’s search for the incredibly delicious goat cheese that we had found so far remains in vain. For this we stock up on vegetables and sausage again.

With the car, enough supplies and gasoline, it feels good to go back to the mountains.



The journey into the mountains leads to Shatili. We drive along a river for a long time and it is wonderfully warm in autumn.

We come to a beautiful large turquoise lake. We drive along a somewhat adventurously narrow slope between thorn bushes and a disturbing slope to come to a ruined bridge.

I haven’t washed for a long time and with great joy I jump naked in the water. The hydrophobic Uli takes photos of the surroundings while I am cleared of all dirt by a school of small fish.



On the way through the valley we arrive – unfortunately too late – to a horse race. Apparently people from all over the area had come together while the street was being converted into a racecourse.

The riders and horses were dressed in the most beautiful costume. But when we are there, society is already dissolving and we can only guess at the spectacle.



We get to a pass up to Chewsureti, while a thunderstorm builds up on the horizon in front of us. You can already see the pillars of rain against the sky.

Hercules shrubs, also known as hogweed in Germany, grow everywhere here. The plants should be avoided as their sap causes phototoxic reactions on the skin.

This means that the combination of Hercules blood and sunlight means a fatal burn on the bare skin. You have to be careful where you run to.

We slowly push the serpentines towards the pass, while the sky is getting darker and the thunder can already be heard.


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