We drive into the valley through rain, hail, thunder and lightning. Isolated defense towers rise up eerily between the rain.
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.
On the way we meet riders who stop us. They ask us to take one of their people with us to Shatili.
The older man explains to us in Russian in the car that he has some problem with his knee.
The rain stops as soon as we have reached the old fortress of Shatili. We leave the car and explore the historical site.
It is astonishing that these towers form a unit here and are connected to each other by numerous bridges and stairs, like in a maze.
We drive a little further towards the border to Chechnya and are no longer sure whether we have landed in Georgia or accidentally in the Russian republic. Before it gets dark we drive along the river past the most impressive sand pillar formations and find a perfect camping spot by the river on level ground between a few trees. There is perfect firewood everywhere. Nobody is here, we make a campfire, it is humid enough that there is no danger to the forest.
We are totally ecstatic, electrified by the tingling suspicion of being illegally in Chechnya as well as by the good place with a great fire. We have food and wine in abundance, as well as leftovers of chacha and whiskey. I open the doors of the car, start the engine and let Schandmaul, Linkin Park and Epica play music at maximum volume while we dance around the fire …