Secluded in mountains and blessed with otherworldly beautiful landscape, Tusheti is enjoying ever rising popularity as a tourist destination among foreigners. Though part of its charm lies in its somewhat atavistic and anachronistic character, its stands clear that Tusheti will have to embrace modern know-how if it’s to see its immense potential fulfilled. With the internetization courtesy of the Embassy of Belgium scheduled to be completed by the end of this year, Tusheti will see further increase in the numbers of tourists wanting to sleep over.
There aren’t yet any brand name hotels up there, so travelers have to settle for local guesthouse operators, many of which, while short of luxuries another big name operator would offer, nevertheless are quite well set up. Add to that the famed Georgian hospitality and you will get to appreciate this option even more. One point- electricity is somewhat a problem, has been for years, along with barely tractable roads. In 2013-2015, the Czech Development Agency installed solar panels and batteries in several Tusheti villages, which actually made most of these family hotel businesses feasible. Daytime electricity? Check. Hot water? Check. Ancient looking family cottage? Double check- every Tushetian’s got one. Willingness to generate solid income, albeit for half a year? Absolutely, yes.
So, without further ado, here are some places to stay if you’re going to Tusheti in the near future.
TEL 595 262046, 597 170707
This one’s easy. Comfy, well-furnished, with very nice bathrooms and a yard you can enjoy your three-meals-included stay in. The food is prepared nearby and is mostly organic. Electricity and hot water, thanks to the abovementioned solar panels, are available till the very late night hours. It’s in village Omalo, which is a centerpiece of Tusheti from which you can go touring (on horse, mostly) up into more secluded areas, or get down to more populated ones. Rates are usually up for negotiation (as often happens in Georgia) but think about 50-60 GEL per day with 2 or 3 daily meals included.
This one’s in Omalo, too, and is bigger and slightly more advanced than most of Tusheti’s family guesthouses. Apart from having a whopping 14 rooms (big for Tusheti), Tsasne offers its visitors tours on horseback (or by car, if you’re happy to miss out on some things really worth seeing) in all three valleys of Tusheti. This is a good one if you are in Tusheti with your family as you can turn the hotel into one big home. Also suited for corporate gatherings and such. Rates are similar to Shina.
Tushuri Koshki (Tushetian tower)
TEL 599 272265
Also in Omalo. Now what makes Koshki special is that it’s a real Tushetian Tower turned into a hotel! That’s right – those tall gaunt buildings you’ve seen in the pictures. And alongside this unique feature, Koshki offers also other luxuries available in Tusheti. My tip would be to enjoy Khinkali in your room at the very top while gazing into the great white nothing (or everything!) that is the Caucasus Mountains.
Tusheti National Park & The Alaznistavi Tourist Shelter
You absolutely have to go there. The park was named one of the “12 best places you’ve never heard of” by BudgetTravel in 2011 not only for its rich biodiversity but also for its aesthetic terrain, hamlets, old defense towers, cuisine, and folk culture. A testament to the astounding amount of work carried out by the Georgian Agency of Protected Areas. Not only is it a great place to visit and sightsee, you can also get all essential information about Tusheti at the Visitor’s Center.
WHERE: The Park is 205 kilometers from Tbilisi. The 85 km Omalo-Alvani highway is in hilly terrain and is difficult to drive. The visitor center to the parks and reserves of Tusheti is located in Lower Omalo.
Stay at the Alaznistavi Tourist Shelter if you shun the comforts of the modern world and are all for camping and being at one with nature. A beautiful spot for picnics and expeditions alike, it can accommodate up to 12 travelers (do not expect it to be empty and book/inform the contact person beforehand) and is extremely cheap – 10 GEL per person, with further discounts for students and pupils. Having your own sleeping bag is a must- Tusheti at night gets cold.
Giorgi Bakuridze, Visitor Service Specialist
TEL 577 10 18 92
WHERE: Go to village Kvemo Alwani first, best done from Tbilisi from the bus station near Isani subway. From Alwani to Omalo you can get a very reasonably-priced taxi in the center of the village.