• TREK FROM TUSHETI TO PANKISI VALLEY

  • TUSHETI TO PANKISI

    GEORGIA

    The trail to Masara shepherd camp seen from the opposite side of the valley while descending to cross the Alazani river on Day 3 of the Tusheti to Pankisi trek

TREKKING FROM TUSHETI TO PANKISI VALLEY

Trekking between Tusheti and Pankisi Valley isn’t exactly the first multi-day hike in Georgia that springs to mind, but it’s a fantastic (if challenging) journey and a great addition to a Caucasus trekking itinerary. Combine it with a trek from Shatili to Omalo and you’ve got an epic traverse of Tusheti that ends in the lowlands of Pankisi Gorge, where you can enjoy a restful few days at the wonderful Nazy’s Guesthouse.

There are a few possible trekking trails between Tusheti and Pankisi, but in this guide we’ll focus on a 5 day trek from Omalo to Jokolo via Sakorno Pass and Mt Tbatana. Although this is considered the most straightforward route, it is still remote and requires some long days with significant elevation changes. What’s more, there are also limited food, water, and accommodation options en route. Sound like fun? Of course it does.

In this guide we’ll cover everything you need to know to plan your trek from Tusheti to Pankisi (or vice versa), including trekking distances and times, a detailed breakdown of the trail, camping and accommodation options, packing lists, transport details, and more. We’ve also included a map and our GPX track download to help you find your way.

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TUSHETI TO PANKISI TREK QUICK FACTS

            • Distance | 88 km
            • Duration | 5 days
            • Start/End | Omalo (Tusheti) / Jokolo (Pankisi Valley) or vice versa
            • Min Elevation | 666 m (Jokolo)
            • Max Elevation | 3016 m (Ridge Hike, Day 1)
            • Total Ascent | 5256 m
            • Total Descent | 6888 m
            • Hiking Season | July – August (possibly mid-June to mid-September)
            • River Crossings | Day 1: stream x 3; Day 2: river x 1 (best in vehicle);
              Day 3: river x 2, stream x 1
            • Water Sources | Streams and Springs

TUSHETI TO PANKISI TREK QUICK FACTS

Distance
88 km

Duration
5 days

Start/End
Omalo (Tusheti)/
Jokolo (Pankisi Valley)
or vice versa

Min Elevation
666 m (Jokolo)

Max Elevation
3016 m (Ridge hike, Day 1)

Total Ascent
5256 m

Total Descent
6888 m

Hiking Season
July – August
(poss. mid-Jun to mid-Sept)

River Crossings
Day 1: stream x 3
Day 2: river x 1 (best in vehicle)
Day 3: river x 2, stream x 1

Water Sources
Streams and Springs

 


WATCH OUR FILM

Watch the behind the scenes version of our Tusheti to Pankisi hike on Instagram stories

Watch the behind the scenes
version of our trek from
Tusheti to Pankisi Valley
on Instagram stories 

TUSHETI TO PANKISI VALLEY HIKING MAP

TUSHETI TO PANKISI VALLEY

HIKING MAP

Use the map below to help guide you from Tusheti to Pankisi Valley via Sakorno Pass and the Iron Mountain Trail. Tap the menu button at the top left for more details, to toggle layers on and off, and switch between satellite and terrain view.

To use an offline version of this map, download our KML file for use with Maps.me (iOS/Android), or the GPX file for use with other offline mapping apps such as Gaia (iOS/Android) or OsmAnd Maps (iOS/Android). See the expandable box below for tips on using these apps. 


To save this map to use online on desktop or mobile just tap the star symbol at the top. When you open Google Maps on your phone, navigate to ‘Saved’ at the bottom, then swipe along to ‘Maps’ at the top. You’ll find this map in your list of maps.

On desktop, click the three lines at the top left, select ‘Your Places’, then ‘Maps’. Click the map, then scroll down and select ‘Open in My Maps’ to access the interactive version.

Alternatively, just tap the rectangle symbol at the top right of the map in this blog post to view the My Maps version larger on desktop.

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to view this version of the map offline, but we’ve provided a download for a similar version for offline use.


MAPS.ME

Maps.me is our go-to offline mapping app. We find it straightforward to use for planning routes in advance, as well as navigating on the trail. It doesn’t drain our phone battery, and it’s quick and easy to save and organise ‘bookmarks’. There are many trails already marked on Maps.me, plus you can download and import a KML track of your route to the app. 

To use Maps.me, first download the app (iOS/Android). Hover over the region or country that you want to visit and the app will prompt you to download this map. Once downloaded, it can be viewed offline. 

You can tap anywhere and save it as a ‘bookmark’ by tapping the star symbol at the bottom. Hit ‘Edit Bookmark’ to personalise the bookmark colour, organise your bookmarks into different folders, and rename them. 

You can navigate easily or plan routes in advance by tapping your start point and selecting ‘route from’, then tapping your end point and selecting ‘route to’. Tap the car, walking, or cycling symbol at the top of the screen to indicate your mode of travel. If you want to plot a different route to the one suggested by Maps.me, just tap a third (or fourth, fifth, etc.) bookmark between the start and end points and select ‘add stop’. 

Maps.me shows the distance and travel time, plus elevation profiles for hiking trails. Note that the estimated time isn’t always reliable, but we’ve always found the distance and elevation gain/loss to be largely accurate. It only shows very basic contour lines.

You can track your progress on the trail using GPS. The arrow shows your direction of travel. Tap the compass at the top right of the screen to keep the map in a fixed position (the arrow will rotate). Alternatively, tap the arrow at the bottom right of the screen to rotate the map in the direction of travel (the arrow will stay in a fixed position).

GAIA

Gaia (iOS/Android) is another offline mapping app that is very useful. It shows the contours in much more detail than Maps.me, as long as you have previously viewed the section of map online. With a paid membership you can download various maps in advance for offline use. The app has existing OpenStreetMap trails marked and you can import GPX tracks and view them offline. You can also create new routes online yourself and export them as GPX or KML files. You can navigate easily on the trail using the arrow that shows your GPS location. Unlike with Maps.me, it isn’t possible to quickly check distances between two points (or at least we haven’t figured out a way to do it). There are a lot of useful features in the free version and even more benefits if you have a paid annual membership, so if you spend a lot of time outdoors it is worthwhile learning how to use the app to its full advantage. 

In our experience, Gaia drains your phone battery much quicker than Maps.me, even in flight mode, so it’s best to shut down the app completely each time you finish using it. 

OSMAND MAPS

OsmAnd Maps (iOS/Android) is another great offline mapping app with lots of useful features. In our opinion, it’s not as intuitive as Maps.me, and it has so many features that it can be a bit overwhelming at first. Like Gaia, we recommend checking out the written and video tutorials on the OsmAnd website to learn how to fully use the app. The benefits of the app include being able to plot routes in advance and save them as GPX tracks, and to view detailed elevation and terrain information, including surface types. You can also import GPX tracks. One downside is that the free version does not include contour lines, but these can be added via a paid plugin.


TUSHETI TO PANKISI VALLEY TREK BREAKDOWN

We’ve broken down the Tusheti to Pankisi Valley trek into separate days and hiking sections below.

We’ve also given approximate timings and distances for each, as well as approximate figures for elevation gain and loss. The total daily figures for elevation gain and loss are based on our exact recorded route using Garmin and may not be 100% accurate, but they are a good guide of what to expect. The elevation gain and loss figures for each hiking section are more general and largely based on mapping apps (hence the difference from our recorded total daily figures).

The timings are based around average hiking speeds and are intended as a rough guide. If you’re a fast hiker it may take you less time, and conversely, if you’re a slow hiker it may take you longer. Our personal hiking time was longer because we were carrying heavy packs, and we stopped to film and photograph a lot.

In this trek outline, ‘Day 1’ starts with a hike along the ridge from Ghele Meadow to Jvarboseli. Note that this is not the only way to reach Jvarboseli, but it is the most scenic route and highly recommended (in decent weather). It is also possible to drive or hike all the way to Jvarboseli through Gometsari Gorge, below the ridgeline.

ELEVATION PROFILE AND 3D ROUTE MAP VIDEO

The elevation profile of the trek, starting at Ghele Meadow in Tusheti and finishing in the village of Jokolo in Pankisi Valley



DAY 1 | GHELE → JVARBOSELI VIA NAKAICHO (NAKLE-KHOLI) PASS

19 km | + 1131 m / – 1547 m | 6 – 8 hours

DAY 1

GHELE
JVARBOSELI
VIA NAKAICHO PASS
(NAKLE-KHOLI PASS)

19 km

+ 1131 m / – 1547 m

6 – 8 hours

We recommend starting Day 1 with a taxi from Omalo to Ghele Meadow, instead of walking the 4.2 km (mostly uphill) between the two. It should cost around 50 GEL. Alternatively, Guesthouse Gere is the closest to the trailhead if you want to walk. There are no water sources on the ridge (the first stream is 16 km into the hike at Dadikurta) so you must take all the water you need from the start of the day.

GHELE MEADOW → START OF RIDGE | 3 km | + 410 m | 1h15m – 1h30m

GHELE MEADOW
START OF RIDGE

3 km | + 410 m

1h15m – 1h30m

From Ghele Meadow a yellow sign points you in the right direction to start your trek. A fairly steep, old jeep track leads up the hillside to a flat grassy meadow. This section ascends about 150 metres and takes around 30 minutes. From here, the trail heads off to the right and climbs steadily. When it becomes steeper, a series of switchbacks lead you up onto the ridge and to a wonderful viewpoint. If you’ve already trekked around Tusheti, you’ll no doubt recognise the villages of Dartlo, Kvavlo, Dano, Shenako, and Chigho, plus the imposing Keselo Fortress at Omalo.

This isn’t the highest point of the day, but the biggest continual climb is now behind you.

Even if you don’t intend on hiking along the ridge, this is a worthwhile day hike from Ghele meadow below, or a great side trip on a Shatili to Omalo trek. It would take approx 1.5 – 2.5 hours return with a light backpack.

A view down to the village of Dartlo and the Pirikiti Valley from that first viewpoint on the ridge on Day 1 of the Tusheti to Pankisi valley trek

Looking down on the village of Dartlo and the Pirikiti Valley from that first viewpoint on the ridge



A view down to the village of Dartlo and the Pirikiti Valley from that first viewpoint on the ridge on Day 1 of the Tusheti to Pankisi valley trek

Looking down on Dartlo village and the Pirikiti
Valley from that first viewpoint on the ridge



START OF RIDGE → MT PITSILAMTA | 4 km | + 250 m | 1h – 1h30m

START OF RIDGE
MT PITSILAMTA

4 km | + 250 m

1h – 1h30m

The trail continues a short distance to another viewpoint, with better views down over the Gometsari Gorge to the south, and more views of the Pirikiti Valley to the north. From here, a mostly flat trail leads along the top and left side of the ridge, before climbing up towards Mt Sakkhevi. The trail then skirts around the right side of the hill, with some up and down sections. It emerges at another nice viewpoint that looks out across a wide, flat meadow towards Mt Pitsilamta.

There may be sheep grazing at the meadow, and as always this goes hand-in-hand with sheepdogs, so choose your path across the meadow wisely. The trail itself leads past an old stone shelter, then either up to the top of Mt Pitsilamta, or along an old jeep track that skirts the left side of the hill.

The trail leads onto the ridgetop meadow, past the old stone shelter, and on towards Mt Pitsilamta (seen here under heavy clouds), on Day 1 of the Tusheti to Pankisi trek

The trail leads onto the ridgetop meadow, past the old stone shelter, and on towards Mt Pitsilamta (seen here under heavy clouds)



The trail leads onto the ridgetop meadow, past the old stone shelter, and on towards Mt Pitsilamta (seen here under heavy clouds), on Day 1 of the Tusheti to Pankisi trek

The trail leads onto the ridgetop meadow,
past the old stone shelter, and on towards
Mt Pitsilamta (seen here under heavy clouds)



MT PITSILAMTA → NAKAICHO PASS | 5.8 km | +/- 140 m | 1h30m – 2h

MT PITSILAMTA
NAKAICHO PASS

5.8 km | +/- 140 m

1h30m – 2h

The trail continues downhill from Mt Pitsilamta, across a small meadow (be wary of more sheepdogs), then up another slope. It curves around to the left and then is mostly flat or downhill all the way to the pass.

Nakaicho Pass is wide and grassy with excellent views over the Pirikiti Valley. The road between Parsma and Dartlo is clearly visible, and the jagged mountains on either side of the pass are particularly dramatic and impressive.

A hiker approaching Nakaicho (Nakle-Kholi) Pass on Day 1 of the Tusheti to Pankisi Valley trek, a great place to stop for lunch and enjoy the mountain views

The trail leads down to Nakaicho (Nakle-Kholi) Pass, a great place to stop for lunch and enjoy the mountain views



The trail leads down to Nakaicho (Nakle-Kholi) Pass,
a great place to stop for lunch and mountain views



NAKAICHO PASS → DADIKURTA | 3.2 km | – 610 m | 1h – 1h30m

NAKAICHO PASS
DADIKURTA

3.2 km | – 610 m

1h – 1h30m

From the pass the trail isn’t necessarily obvious, but it’s easy enough to find by following the GPX track and looking out for painted waymarkers on rocks and poles. The waymarkers took us on a slightly different route at times to Maps.me and the GPX track that we were following. I suspect the waymarkers have been painted more recently. Either way, it’s advisable to follow them for the easiest route down.

The trail descends steadily for around 1 hour, becoming steeper and a little less stable under foot above Dadikurta. This is where you should find your first water source of the day, a small stream. Continue down to the largely abandoned village of Dadikurta, a collection of attractive stone houses perched on the hillside.

The largely abandoned village of Dadikurta on the trail from Nakaicho (Nakle-Kholi) Pass to the Gometsari Gorge in Tusheti

The trail passes through the largely abandoned village of Dadikurta



The largely abandoned village of Dadikurta on the trail from Nakaicho (Nakle-Kholi) Pass to the Gometsari Gorge in Tusheti

The trail passes through the largely
abandoned village of Dadikurta



DADIKURTA → JVARBOSELI | 3 km | – 450 m | 1h – 1h30m

DADIKURTA
JVARBOSELI

3 km | – 450 m

1h – 1h30m

From Dadikurta, a switchback trail heads down the hillside through overgrown bushes to the stream. It should be possible to cross on stones without getting your feet too wet. There is a lovely forest trail on the other side of the stream which is another nice change of scenery for the day. The trail leads up a bit, then down to the stream again, annoyingly crossing it twice more in quick succession. Both crossings were doable in boots for us, but you might want to change into sandals if the water level is high.

After the last stream crossing, the trail leaves the forest and skirts around the hillside. Finally, the Verkhovani tower appears in front of you. There is a guesthouse in the village of Verkhovani (where you can sleep in the tower!). Note that the bridge here was destroyed and no replacement currently exists. From Verkhovani it’s just a 15 minute stroll to Jvarboseli, with one narrow landslide section above the river where you need to take care.

In Jvarboseli, a good option for accommodation is Posholi Guesthouse, built in 2017. It has a prime position overlooking the river, a nice balcony, and tasty food. Keep walking to the end of the village and you’ll spot it hidden slightly down to the right. The owner speaks English and will gladly drive you through the river the next day in his beast of a 4WD – a definite bonus.

See More From Georgia

Two hikers traverse the grassy ridge on Day 2 of the Panorama Trail
A view of Tetnuldi peak from Latpari Pass on the Ushguli to Chvelpi hike
The twin peaks of Ushba and Chatyn-Tau, seen from the trail on Day 2 of the Mestia to Ushguli trek in Svaneti, Georgia
A hiker on the steep final approach to Gul Pass, on the Chuberi to Mestia section of the Transcaucasian Trail in Svaneti
Mountains reflected in Kelitsadi Lake on a still morning
Two hikers and a dog rest on a rock in front of an unnamed lake on the Black Rock Lake trek
A hiker climbs the shale switchback trail to Atsunta Pass on the Shatili Omalo trek, with the layered mountains of Khevsureti behind
A hiker descends the switchback ridgeline trail from Chaukhi Pass to Abudelauri Lakes on the Juta to Roshka trek in Georgia
Snow capped Mt. Kazbek shining bright at sunrise, as seen from the town of Kazbegi (Stepantsminda) in northern Georgia
The settlement of Abano in Truso Valley, with the old monastery on the right and Zakagori Fortress seen behind
One of the best views of Gergeti Trinity Church, seen from the hiking trail to Gergeti Glacier and Mt. Kazbek
Hikers descend from the viewpoint at Kojori Fortress in Georgia
A UAZ Buhanka campervan parked at the side of a grassy track to Levani's Lake on the expansive Javakheti Plateau
A person walks beneath the huge dusty sky looking at the seemingly endless hazy view at Takhti-Tepha Mud Volcanoes in the Vashlovani Protected Area
Two people watch something in the distance from outside a parked 4x4 vehicle in the hills of Racha, Georgia.
Two hikers traverse the grassy ridge on Day 2 of the Panorama Trail
A view of Tetnuldi peak from Latpari Pass on the Ushguli to Chvelpi hike
The twin peaks of Ushba and Chatyn-Tau, seen from the trail on Day 2 of the Mestia to Ushguli trek in Svaneti, Georgia
A hiker on the steep final approach to Gul Pass, on the Chuberi to Mestia section of the Transcaucasian Trail in Svaneti
Mountains reflected in Kelitsadi Lake on a still morning
Two hikers and a dog rest on a rock in front of an unnamed lake on the Black Rock Lake trek
A hiker climbs the shale switchback trail to Atsunta Pass on the Shatili Omalo trek, with the layered mountains of Khevsureti behind
A hiker descends the switchback ridgeline trail from Chaukhi Pass to Abudelauri Lakes on the Juta to Roshka trek in Georgia
Snow capped Mt. Kazbek shining bright at sunrise, as seen from the town of Kazbegi (Stepantsminda) in northern Georgia
The settlement of Abano in Truso Valley, with the old monastery on the right and Zakagori Fortress seen behind
One of the best views of Gergeti Trinity Church, seen from the hiking trail to Gergeti Glacier and Mt. Kazbek
Hikers descend from the viewpoint at Kojori Fortress in Georgia
A UAZ Buhanka campervan parked at the side of a grassy track to Levani's Lake on the expansive Javakheti Plateau
A person walks beneath the huge dusty sky looking at the seemingly endless hazy view at Takhti-Tepha Mud Volcanoes in the Vashlovani Protected Area
Two people watch something in the distance from outside a parked 4x4 vehicle in the hills of Racha, Georgia.

DAY 2 | JVARBOSELI → ALAZNISTAVI TOURIST SHELTER

21 km | + 1631 m / – 1339 m | 7 – 9 hours

DAY 2

JVARBOSELI →
ALAZNASTAVI
TOURIST SHELTER

21 km

+ 1631 m / – 1339 m

7 – 9 hours

Day 2 is a fairly long one. It’s worth covering as many kilometres as you can early on, as the trail becomes trickier about half way and there are landslide areas to negotiate. These will slow you down. You will also no doubt be invited into the Alaznistavi Guda Cheese Farm for a cup of coffee and some cheese, so allow time for this too. If you want to stay in the Alaznistavi Tourist Shelter, be sure to contact the visitor centre in Omalo in advance. It costs 10 GEL per night and has 12 beds. There are regular water sources along the way.

JVARBOSELI → KOKLATA | 3.1 km | + 200 m | 45 – 60 min

JVARBOSELI
KOKLATA

3.1 km | + 200 m

45 – 60 min

As previously mentioned, the bridge at Verkhovani was washed away and there is no longer a bridge in this area to cross the river. There is a ford below Jvarboseli where 4WD vehicles can cross, but it isn’t easy to cross on foot. We recommend asking the owner at Posholi Guesthouse for a ride across, or hitching with other locals or tourists with their own vehicle. If you must cross on foot, the river appeared to be calmer and slower at the bend in the valley between the two villages, and there’s a trail leading up from the riverside to the road on the opposite bank. But, as always, ask locally and use your own judgement when finding a suitable spot on the day.

Once you’ve reached the other side of the river, continue on the dirt road up the valley, back in the direction of Verkhovani. You’ll see the tourist sign directing you across the (non-existent) bridge high above the river. From here, follow the road up the forested hillside away from the river. After about 45 minutes you’ll emerge at Koklata, where there are a few houses and nice views of the Gometsari Gorge.

A view down Gometsari Gorge after crossing the river on the morning of Day 2 on the Tusheti to Pankisi Valley trek

A view down Gometsari Gorge after crossing the river, with Jvarboseli seen on the hill above the left bank



A view down Gometsari Gorge after crossing the river on the morning of Day 2 on the Tusheti to Pankisi Valley trek

A view down Gometsari Gorge after
crossing the river, with Jvarboseli
seen on the hill above the left bank



KOKLATA SMALL PASS | 2.2 km | + 150 m | 30 – 45 min

KOKLATA
SMALL PASS

2.2 km | + 150 m

30 – 45 min

From Koklata you can follow the road up to a viewpoint. Or you can skirt around the hillside on one of the many shepherd trails and rejoin the road just before the short climb to the small pass. The road ends just below the pass where wonderful views of the Tushetis Alazani Valley begin.

SMALL PASS BIG STREAM | 3 km | + 90 m / – 190 m | 45 – 60 min

SMALL PASS
BIG STREAM

3 km | + 90 / – 190 m

45 – 60 min

From the small pass the trail is easy going for about 3 km. It meanders along the hillside, alternating between attractive forest sections and open sections with valley views. A little bit of climbing up/down/over boulders is required, but mostly it’s a good trail. After a while it descends past a shepherd camp, down to a small stream, then on to a bigger stream. These streams shouldn’t be difficult to cross, but changing into sandals is best at the bigger stream as the water is deep enough to cover your boots.

The trail crosses the ‘big stream’ and winds up the hillside into the forest beyond on Day 2 of the Tusheti to Pankisi Valley trek

Looking down towards where the trail crosses the ‘big stream’ and winds up the hillside into the forest beyond



The trail crosses the ‘big stream’ and winds up the hillside into the forest beyond on Day 2 of the Tusheti to Pankisi Valley trek

Looking down towards where the trail
crosses the ‘big stream’ and winds up
the hillside into the forest beyond



BIG STREAM ALAZNISTAVI CHEESE FARM |  6.3 km | + 220 m / – 265 m | 3h – 3h30m

BIG STREAM
ALAZNISTAVI CHEESE FARM

6.3 km | + 220 / – 265 m

3h – 3h30m

From this point the trail becomes a little more demanding. First, there is a fairly steep 15 minute climb up a messy, stone-strewn path. The trail then climbs steadily through the forest for another 30 minutes or so to reach a high point.

From here, keep your eyes peeled for a fork in the trail. The right fork is the one you need to take but it’s easy to miss as the well trodden path continues more or less straight on. We completely missed it, carrying on along the left trail for a good kilometre or so before realising our mistake and doubling back.

The right trail starts descending a bit, leading you right through a shepherd’s camp and a lot of overgrown bushes and stabby plants. It then reaches a landslide section, with obvious enough trails leading across. Go slow and take great care. After the landslide area the trail curves around the hillside and crosses three small streams. It continues to wind up, down and along flat, narrow trails all the way to the riverside Alaznistavi Guda Cheese Farm. The friendly cheese makers will likely call you in to sample their delicious produce, and no doubt send you on your way with a chunk to enjoy later.

Looking down the Tushetis Alazani valley towards the Alaznistavi Guda Cheese Farm, which sits picturesquely next to the snaking river

The Alaznistavi Cheese Farm can be first seen from a distance, with more winding and descending trail to negotiate before reaching it



Looking down the Tushetis Alazani valley towards the Alaznistavi Guda Cheese Farm, which sits picturesquely next to the snaking river

The Alaznistavi Cheese Farm sits next to the
river and can be first seen from a distance,
with more winding and descending trail
to negotiate before reaching it



ALAZNISTAVI CHEESE FARM ALAZNISTAVI TOURIST SHELTER | 6.4 km | + 120 m | 2h – 2h45m

ALAZNISTAVI CHEESE FARM
ALAZNISTAVI TOURIST SHELTER

6.4 km | + 120

2h – 2h45m

From the cheese farm the trail heads up the hillside slightly, then down to a bridge crossing over the Tushetis Alazani River. The trail goes right through another shepherd camp and continues alongside the river. There are many landslide areas to negotiate, making it slow going. At some points you need to traverse the landslide right by the water’s edge, and at other points a little higher up.

Beyond the landslide areas the trail continues through some overgrown sections, up and down the hillside a little and skirting the river. It passes one more shepherd camp, leads across a grassy expanse, and finally reaches the tourist shelter.

There is a small stream a little beyond the tourist shelter which is a good water source. Around the fenced shelter area, there is flat, grassy ground suitable for camping. The shelter itself is a sizeable wooden building with bunk beds inside, sleeping 12. There are covered picnic tables outside, as well as drop toilets and sinks (although the water for these was not working when we were there).

DAY 3 | ALAZNISTAVI TOURIST SHELTER → MASARA SHEPHERD CAMP

13 km | + 1526 m / – 1091 m | 7 – 10 hours

DAY 3

ALAZNISTAVI
TOURIST SHELTER

MASARA
SHEPHERD CAMP

13 km

+ 1526 m / – 1091 m

7 – 10 hours

Day 3 is undoubtedly the toughest day. An ascent to Sakorno Pass is followed by a steep descent to the Alazani River, followed by a very steep ascent to a suitable camp spot, known as Masara (where there may or may not be shepherd dogs to contend with). There are also two river crossings (plus some streams) which could prove tricky if water levels are high. It would likely be easier and take less time going in the opposite direction, as there would be only one ascent and two descents, instead of the other way around. The only water sources are the rivers on either side of the pass, and a stream at Masara shepherd camp.

ALAZNISTAVI TOURIST SHELTER RIVER CROSSING | 3.2 km | + 40 m | 45 – 60 min

ALAZNISTAVI TOURIST SHELTER
RIVER CROSSING

3.2 km | + 40 m

45 – 60 min

This is the easiest part of the day, so enjoy it while it lasts! It’s best to get an early start (eg. 7am). From the Alaznistavi Tourist Shelter the trail is more or less flat, following the river. At the first significant stream of the day, head up towards the shepherd’s camp on your right, where a small wooden bridge leads across. The second stream is wide enough and just deep enough to warrant changing into sandals if you have them. From this point it’s less than 1 km to the Tushetis Alazani crossing, so if you do change into sandals, you might just want to leave them on.

There’s no need to follow the trail leading up the small hill to the right (ignore our GPX track here), just continue walking across the flat stony ground to reach the Tushetis Alazani. Across the river, you can see the trail to Sakorno Pass snaking faintly up the hillside. In our experience, this river crossing was not difficult, the water levels barely reaching mid-calf and not fast flowing. Of course, this may well be different depending on the weather conditions and time of year.

Fill up enough water here to get you up and over the pass.

A hiker leaving the now wide Tushetis Alazani river valley behind while climbing a switchback trail towards Sakorno Pass on Day 3 of the Tusheti to Pankisi Valley trek in Georgia

Leaving both the river and Tusheti behind as the trail climbs towards Sakorno Pass



A hiker leaving the now wide Tushetis Alazani river valley behind while climbing a switchback trail towards Sakorno Pass on Day 3 of the Tusheti to Pankisi Valley trek in Georgia

Leaving both the river and Tusheti behind
as the trail climbs towards Sakorno Pass



RIVER CROSSING SAKORNO PASS | 3.7 km | + 650 m | 2 – 3 hours

RIVER CROSSING
SAKORNO PASS

3.7 km | + 650 m

2 – 3 hours

From the river it’s a steady climb up a grassy hillside on a mostly easy to follow trail, with switchback sections here and there. The views are incredible. For the final kilometre or so, the trail curves around the hillside towards the pass. There are some narrow sloping sections that cross over a few small gullies/landslides with drop offs. Care is needed. Sakorno Pass has a pole marker and is very wide and flat, with excellent views of course. It also marks the junction of this trail with the Borbalo Pass trail, which heads westward towards Khevsureti.

A hiker approaches the final stretch of the climb to Sakorno Pass on Day 3 of the Tusheti Pankisi trek

With most of the climb complete, Sakorno Pass appears up ahead as the trail curves round the hillside



A hiker approaches the final stretch of the climb to Sakorno Pass on Day 3 of the Tusheti Pankisi trek

With most of the climb complete, Sakorno Pass
appears ahead as the trail curves round the hillside



SAKORNO PASS ALAZANI RIVER | 3.7 km | – 830 m | 2 – 3 hours

SAKORNO PASS
ALAZANI RIVER

3.7 km | – 830 m

2 – 3 hours

The descent to the Alazani is initially easy going, but you hit a tricky landslide section around 1 km from the pass. You can just about make out the trail leading across it, which includes one short but steep section that requires great care and is challenging with a heavy bag. It would no doubt be easier to climb up if you’re going in the opposite direction.

Further down, the trail hits a fairly lengthy section of overgrown hogweed and other stinging/stabby plants. Watch your feet and wear long sleeves and trousers. As you descend, you can make out the trail climbing the slope on the other side of the valley. It looks impossibly steep, but don’t worry, it isn’t quite as bad when you’re actually on it.

When you reach the bottom, look for the blue and white arrow markers painted on rocks and ford the river there, where you see the trail leading up through the trees and bushes opposite. In our experience, it is a little fast flowing, but not too deep (below the knee) or wide. Fill up enough water here for a 1+ hour steep climb.

Note that there is no good place to camp here. There is a small patch of sandy gravel next to the river, but being a steep sided gorge, this isn’t a safe place to pitch up should it rain and the water levels rise.

The trail to Masara shepherd camp seen from the opposite side of the valley while descending to cross the Alazani river on Day 3 of the Tusheti to Pankisi trek

As you descend you can see the trail climbing the hill opposite, to the right of the river



Blue and white painted markers showing where to cross the Alazani river on Day 3 of the Tusheti to Pankisi trek in Georgia

The blue and white painted markers indicate the spot to cross the river, before beginning the climb to Masara shepherd camp (located at the patch of snow top left in picture opposite)



The trail to Masara shepherd camp seen from the opposite side of the valley while descending to cross the Alazani river on Day 3 of the Tusheti to Pankisi trek

As you descend, you can just see the trail climbing the
hillside opposite, snaking up to the right of the river.
The little patch of snow in the top left of the picture
marks the location of Masara shepherd camp


Blue and white painted markers showing where to cross the Alazani river on Day 3 of the Tusheti to Pankisi trek in Georgia

The blue and white painted markers
indicate the spot to cross the Alazani



ALAZANI RIVER MASARA SHEPHERD CAMP |  2.4 km | + 590 m | 2h – 3h

ALAZANI RIVER
MASARA SHEPHERD CAMP

2.4 km | + 590 m

2h – 3h

Leaving the Alazani River, you’re faced with a steep climb on a forest trail that is overgrown in many parts. In wet weather, this trail would be pretty slippery and especially challenging if descending. After about an hour of constant climbing, the trail evens out briefly and leads across a stream (easy to cross on stones). Then, it’s another hour or so of steep climbing to reach a flat grassy area, where a shepherd’s camp is hidden from view behind two small hillocks. There is a stream running down past his shelter. This is the last place to fill up until you reach the mountain spring much later on Day 4.

This grassy area is the best spot to set up camp – there is plenty of good ground for pitching tents and the water source is nearby. However, if the nearby shepherd camp is in use, you can expect to have some serious issues with sheepdogs. We spent 2+ hours being held hostage in our tent by five or six ferocious dogs, despite having already been into the shepherd’s hut for tea. They didn’t leave us alone until the flock went off to graze at around 7am the following morning. The shepherd was calling them, but they ignored him.

If you think the dogs are going to be a problem and you have enough energy, consider filling up enough water to last you until the mountain spring the following day and carry on for a bit. It’s a steep 20 minute or so climb to the top of the hill (around 90 metres up, 400 metres in distance). There’s limited space to camp here, just a small area that is just about flat, but from this point the trail becomes much easier and there is a nice area to camp about 1.8 km beyond.

A morning view back down to Masara shepherd camp from the trail on Day 4 of the Tusheti to Pankisi Valley trek

Morning view over Masara shepherd camp from the trail above; the area in front of the snow is a good place to camp (assuming no dogs)



A morning view back down to Masara shepherd camp from the trail on Day 4 of the Tusheti to Pankisi Valley trek

Morning view over Masara shepherd camp from
the trail above; the area in front of the snow is a
good place to camp (assuming no dogs)



DAY 4 | MASARA SHEPHERD CAMP → MOUNTAIN SPRING CAMP

12 km | + 772 m / – 882 m | 4 – 6 hours

DAY 4

MASARA
SHEPHERD CAMP

MOUNTAIN
SPRING CAMP

12 km

+ 772 m / – 882 m

4 – 6 hours

There is more great scenery to enjoy on Day 4, with no major ascents or descents like the previous day. Painted waymarkers along the route are plentiful and the trail is mostly easy to follow. It is possible to continue beyond the mountain spring and descend all the way to Sakisto Lake or Tbatana, but we feel the camping spots around here aren’t as good, plus you may have issues with sheepdogs around the lake. If you have arranged for a pick up at Tbatana (4×4, approx 200 GEL), then by all means continue on, finishing the trek today. There is no water between Masara and the mountain spring so be sure to have enough with you for the whole day.

MASARA SHEPHERD CAMP START OF IRON MOUNTAIN TRAIL | 5 km | + 340 m | 1h30m – 2h

MASARA SHEPHERD CAMP

IRON MOUNTAIN TRAIL

5 km | + 340 m

1h30m – 2h

From Masara it’s a short but steep climb to the top of the hill, after which the trail meanders around the hillside with a little up, down, and flat. Rocky mountains rise to the right, and wonderful open views stretch out to the left. There is one notable descent to a rocky, grassy plateau, followed by a short ascent on the other side which leads through a narrow gap in the rocks. Look for the blue and white trail markers pointing the way. After climbing up through the gap, the trail continues around the hillside, with a gentle climb towards the start of the Iron Mountain trail.

Looking back across a grassy, rocky plateau area, a few kilometres after leaving Masara shepherd camp on Day 4 of the Tusheti Pankisi trek

Looking back a few kilometres after leaving Masara shepherd camp; the camp lies behind the grassy hill, with Sakorno Pass on the ridge beyond



Looking back across a grassy, rocky plateau area, a few kilometres after leaving Masara shepherd camp on Day 4 of the Tusheti Pankisi trek

Looking back a few kilometres after leaving
Masara shepherd camp; the camp lies just
behind the grassy hill, with Sakorno Pass
on the ridge beyond



START OF IRON MOUNTAIN TRAILMOUNTAIN SPRING CAMP  |  7 km | – 450 m | 2h30m – 4h

IRON MOUNTAIN TRAIL
MOUNTAIN SPRING CAMP

7 km | – 450 m

2h30m – 4h

From here the trail changes to a narrow rocky path that leads along the mountainside, just below the ridgeline. Some sections require climbing up and over boulders/rocks. The trail reaches a narrow pass where you cross to the left side of the mountain and skirt around on a pretty steady trail. It then turns to the right, and again to the left. This last part leads toward a grassy plateau which you can see up ahead, although it takes a while to reach as the trail here has many rocky sections to scramble over.

A hiker following the rough trail on the rocky steep slopes on the Iron Mountain Trail on Day 4 of the Tusheti Pankisi trek

Negotiating the rocky ground on the ‘Iron Mountain Trail’, so called due to the ridge’s ferrous rocks



A hiker following the rough trail on the rocky steep slopes on the Iron Mountain Trail on Day 4 of the Tusheti Pankisi trek

Negotiating the rocky ground on the ‘Iron Mountain
Trail’, so called because of the ridge’s ferrous rocks



From the large grassy plateau you have good views either side. Shepherds graze their sheep on the hills around here and you can spot their camps dotted around. The trail continues towards the mountain straight ahead, leading around the left side. It takes around 30 minutes on an easy trail to reach a smaller grassy plateau above the mountain spring, again with great views either side. The firepit rings and some discarded rubbish suggest this is a regular camping spot, probably used by shepherds. Some sheepdogs may visit, but from our experience they don’t bark or act aggressively. Note that it’s pretty exposed here, so if it’s very windy you may prefer to fill up water and descend to camp at Sakisto Lake.

A view of sunny Pankisi valley from the gloomy overcast hills more than 2000 metres above

First sight of Pankisi Valley from the trail, the villages there enjoying sunny conditions more than 2000 metres below



A view of sunny Pankisi valley from the gloomy overcast hills more than 2000 metres above

First sight of Pankisi Valley from the trail,
the villages there enjoying sunny conditions
more than 2000 metres below



DAY 5 | MOUNTAIN SPRING CAMP → JOKOLO (PANKISI VALLEY)

22 km | + 196 m / – 2029 m | 4 – 6 hours

DAY 5

MOUNTAIN
SPRING CAMP

JOKOLO
(PANKISI VALLEY)

22 km

+ 196 m / – 2029 m

4 – 6 hours

The final day consists of a trail descent to Sakisto Lake, followed by road walking all the way down to Pankisi Valley. The last 16 km are a bit of a slog in the heat, as you lose 1300 m in elevation with limited shade. You may be able to hitchhike, although traffic between Tbatana and Batsara is limited, with many more opportunities once you hit the main road on the valley floor. If you don’t want to walk it, contact Nazy (of Nazy’s Guesthouse) in advance and she’ll be able to arrange a 4×4 to pick you up at Tbatana. It’ll cost around 200 GEL.

MOUNTAIN SPRING CAMP → START OF DESCENT | 2 km | – 200 m | 20 – 30 min

MOUNTAIN SPRING CAMP
→ START OF DESCENT

2 km | – 200 m

20 – 30 min

From the mountain spring camp the trail leads through rolling green hills along the ridgeline, passing a small attractive pond below the peak of Mt Tbatana. Be careful to stick to the right trail after the small pond instead of descending on the left trail, otherwise you’ll end up at the edge of a huge landslip and have to climb back up again to the trail (like us). Note that it’s also possible to detour up to the top of Mt Tbatana. There is a yellow signpost pointing you in the right direction and it doesn’t look too difficult.

START OF DESCENT → TBATANA | 3.7 km | – 350 m | 40 – 60 min

START OF DESCENT
→ TBATANA

3.7 km | – 350 m

40 – 60 min

The descent is mostly on uneven rock and dirt trail. There are orange/white and blue/white waymarkers to keep you right. From the top, it takes around 50 minutes to reach Sakisto Lake, which is pretty small and not very clean. There’s a brown sign marking this as a designated camping spot, but beware of the sheepdogs from the nearby shepherds camp down the hillside. It’s also quite rocky here, and not all that flat.

A muddy off-road track starts here. Follow it for about 20-30 minutes as it rises gently to Tbatana, a small scattering of houses. Just before the settlement, a signpost points towards a water source 250 metres from the trail.

Note that it is also possible to follow a signposted trail from Sakisto Lake to Khadori (Kadori) village instead of going via Tbatana, entering Pankisi Valley about 4.6 km further north. This route is partially marked on Maps.me, but we don’t have personal experience walking it.

A hiker descends the winding trail to Sakisto Lake on day 5 of the Tusheti Pankisi trek

Approaching Sakisto Lake at the bottom of the descent from the ridge; the dirt track beyond leads to Tbatana



A hiker descends the winding trail to Sakisto Lake on day 5 of the Tusheti Pankisi trek

Approaching Sakisto Lake at the bottom of
the descent from the ridge; the dirt track
beyond leads to Tbatana



TBATANA → JOKOLO (PANKISI VALLEY) |  16.3 km | – 1300 m | 3h – 4h30m

TBATANA →
JOKOLO
(PANKISI VALLEY)

16.3 km | – 1300 m

3h – 4h30m

Continue down the hill on the dirt track. It’s not very shaded, despite being largely surrounded by forest. We filled water from a stream near the top of the road, but this may run dry at certain times so it’s better to fill up at Tbatana if you’re running low. The surroundings become more pleasant as you get lower, with a lovely forest of old yew trees in the Batsara Nature Reserve near the bottom. Eventually you’ll come to a picturesque stream – a great rest spot and place to soak your weary feet. Beyond the stream there are numerous possible camping spots, and this area is a popular picnic spot for locals.

Continue along the riverside track until you reach the main road running through Pankisi Valley. Cross the bridge and continue towards the tiny village of Dzibakhevi (Zibakhevi). From here you can opt to walk along the main road (a good option if you fancy hitchhiking the rest of the way), or you can take the riverside dirt track instead. The valley floor is completely flat, so this final section is easy, if a little hot and tiring.

We recommend ending your trek with a stay at the excellent Nazy’s Guesthouse in Jokolo, although there are other guesthouse options in the village, and elsewhere in the valley too.

COME JOIN US ON INSTAGRAM

WHEN TO TREK BETWEEN TUSHETI AND PANKISI

While Pankisi Valley is accessible year-round, Tusheti is completely shut off in winter. The road usually opens some time around mid-June and closes around October.

This makes July and August the ideal trekking season for a Tusheti to Pankisi trek (or vice versa). In June and September water levels are likely to be much higher, making the river crossings potentially difficult, or indeed dangerous. There could also be snow at higher elevations. So, even if the Tusheti road is open, it isn’t recommended to trek outside of July and August unless you are experienced and fully kitted out for more challenging conditions.

WHICH DIRECTION TO TREK BETWEEN TUSHETI AND PANKISI

It’s possible to trek between Tusheti and Pankisi in either direction. In terms of difficulty, we wouldn’t say one way is more difficult than the other, although some parts of the trail are definitely more challenging depending on the direction of travel. Ultimately, your choice may depend on wider Georgia travel plans. Personally, we trekked from Tusheti to Pankisi because this tied in with our previous Shatili to Omalo trek (plus, it was a last minute decision made while already in Tusheti!).

If you also want to combine the Shatili to Omalo and Omalo to Pankisi treks, one thing we recommend you consider is the food re-supply situation. There are options (limited) for stocking up on trekking food in Omalo (Tusheti), so it may be easier for you to take enough food from Tbilisi to cover the Pankisi to Tusheti trek initially, then just stock up on food to cover 2 nights of camping for the Omalo to Shatili trek (or carry the extra food with you from Tbilisi).  If you trek from Shatili to Omalo to Pankisi (as we did), you’ll either need to carry more food for longer or rely on sourcing more (4 nights of camping) from the limited options in Omalo. Obviously, you also need to consider the best direction for you for the Omalo Shatili trek  – you can read our thoughts on this here.

TUSHETI TO PANKISI TREK PRACTICALITIES

Embarking on the 5 day trek from Tusheti to Pankisi through the remote Caucasus mountains requires careful preparation and planning. We’ve covered the key points below.

FOOD

You’ll need to pack food for a minimum of 3 nights/4 days, plus lunch and snacks for Day 1.

There is nowhere to buy food between Jvarboseli and Pankisi (although you will probably be given some cheese at Alaznistavi Guda Cheese Farm). There is one basic shop at Hostel Tishe in Lower Omalo which is the best place to stock up in Tusheti. They have things like porridge, pasta, tinned goods, biscuits, chocolate bars, and so on. They even had some gas canisters when we visited, but of course what’s in stock on the day can vary. There are numerous small shops in Pankisi where you can buy similar goods. However, it is certainly recommended to bring supplies from Tbilisi or a bigger city like Telavi if possible, as you will have more choice and can buy lighter weight food with less packaging to carry out.

See the packing list section below for camping food recommendations.

PHONE RECEPTION AND WIFI

There is WIFI at guesthouses in Omalo, Jvarboseli, and Pankisi. Don’t rely on having phone reception while on the trek.

MONEY

You must pay in cash for everything and there is no ATM in Tusheti, so be sure to bring money with you from the lowlands. There is an ATM at the community centre in Duisi village in Pankisi. 

MAPS AND NAVIGATION

You can buy the Geoland trekking maps of the area in their shop in Tbilisi (maps 1 and 2). Note that they only cover as far as the ‘large grassy plateau’ on Day 4. You can also follow the trail using GPS on your phone with Maps.me or another offline mapping app like Gaia or OSMand. Remember to download the relevant map online beforehand, and switch to flight mode to conserve battery. You can set this blog post to read offline also, and download our GPX/KML files.

WHERE TO RENT CAMPING GEAR

There is nowhere to rent camping gear in Tusheti. You can rent camping gear at Nazy’s Guesthouse in Pankisi Valley, but only if you’re returning there at the end. As such, it is probably best to arrange gear rental in Tbilisi. MPLUS (Mogzauri) has everything you need for camping on this trek.

The sunrise breaks through dark clouds above the mountains, casting a little light on the tent in the foreground at the Mountain Spring camp on Day 5 of the Tusheti Pankisi Valley trek

A moody sunrise while camping at the mountain spring on Day 5 of this Tusheti to Pankisi Valley trek



The sunrise breaks through dark clouds above the mountains, casting a little light on the tent in the foreground at the Mountain Spring camp on Day 5 of the Tusheti Pankisi Valley trek

A moody sunrise while camping at the mountain
spring on Day 5 of this Tusheti to Pankisi trek



WEATHER FORECASTS

Yr.no is the best weather app (iOS/Android) we know of, covering remote areas like Sakorno Pass, Mt Tbatana, Nakaicho (Nakle-Kholi) Pass, etc. It doesn’t work offline, but it is very useful for checking the weather in advance. If you have a Garmin InReach like us, you can get weather reports at any location.

TRAVEL INSURANCE FOR HIKING AT ALTITUDE

It’s important to note that most travel insurance providers will only cover hiking up to a certain altitude as standard (often 2500 m or 3000 m). In order to be covered for hiking above this, you will probably need to add on an ‘activity pack’ or such like. The highest point on this Tusheti to Pankisi trek sits at around 3000 m, so make sure you check in advance whether your travel insurance policy covers you or not.

Whether you are currently in your home country or are already travelling, two travel insurance policy providers that can cover for hiking above 3000 m are World Nomads (for residents of 140+ countries) and True Traveller (for UK and EEA residents only). We have purchased travel insurance policies from both of these companies in the past. We have found their policies to be comprehensive, and their online claims and extension processes straightforward.

 If you still need to organise your travel insurance, we’d suggest getting a quote from each to see which suits you best.

TUSHETI TO PANKISI TREK PACKING LIST

You’ll need camping gear, all weather clothing, food, and various other items to make your trek run smoothly and safely. We’ve compiled some packing lists and more info below.

ALL WEATHER CLOTHING

Make sure you pack clothing for all weather eventualities. The weather can be very unpredictable, change quickly, and vary greatly between the lower and higher altitudes. You need waterproofs and layers (including a base layer, mid layer, and insulating layer). Ideally your base layers should be made from merino wool or sweat-wicking material. Avoid jeans or any cotton materials – if they get wet they are heavy, take forever to dry, and you’ll get cold easily. A hat, gloves, and sunglasses are also needed.

Make sure you have proper footwear (ideally hiking boots) that are broken in already. It’s a good idea to pack a pair of water sandals too for the river crossings and wearing around camp/guesthouses.

Merino T-Shirts x 2
His/Hers

Merino Thermal Baselayer
His/Hers

Merino Thermal Leggings
His/Hers

Merino Underwear
His/Hers

Sports Bra x 2

Fleece
His/Hers

Down Jacket
His/Hers

Rain Jacket/Shell
His/Hers

Waterproof Trousers
His/Hers

Quick Drying Hiking Trousers
(preferably with zip-off shorts)
His/Hers

Trousers to wear around camp/guesthouses
(Lightweight, similar to above)

Trekking Socks x 2
His/Hers

Warm Socks for night x 1

Buff

Gloves
Liner & Waterproof Outer

Sun Hat

Warm Hat

Sunglasses

Hiking Boots
His/Hers

Waterproof sandals for evening/river crossings

Bandana
Soak it in the river and tie it round your neck or wrists to keep you cool

Belt
You might lose weight on the trek!


CAMPING EQUIPMENT

As a minimum you’ll need a tent, sleeping mat, and sleeping bag. We always like to have a pillow and sleeping bag liner too. You’ll also need a small stove, gas canister and cooking supplies.

HIKING GEAR

General hiking gear is required for the Tusheti to Pankisi trek. This includes a backpack, hiking poles, a refillable water bottle or water bladder, a water purification method (optional – some people drink straight from the springs/streams), a first aid kit, rubbish bags for carrying out all your waste, a headtorch, suncream, and a toilet trowel (for digging a hole and burying human waste).

50-70L Backpack + rain cover

Hiking Poles

Water Bladder/Water Bottle

Water Purifier (eg. Steripen, purification tablets, LifeStraw, etc.)

First Aid Kit

Penknife

Maps (offline GPS + paper)

Rubbish Bag(s)

Headtorch

Suncream

Basic Toiletries

Toilet Paper

Toilet Trowel 

Hand Sanitiser


FOOD

You’ll need plenty of snacks to keep you going, plus food for at least 3 x breakfasts, 5 x lunches, and 3 x dinners when camping. You can eat breakfast at your guesthouse on Day 1, and dinner at your guesthouse on Day 1 and Day 5. Your guesthouse can also provide a packed lunch (often called a lunch box) for Day 1 and Day 2. If you are trekking from Pankisi to Tusheti, obviously you won’t reach a guesthouse until Jvarboseli on Day 4, so you could have a guesthouse dinner on Day 4 and Day 5, and packed lunches for Day 1 and Day 5.

You need to carry all of your waste out with you, so it’s best to avoid excess packaging like tins, cans, bottles, jars, etc. These are often heavy, too. 

Pack food that is high in calories, but low in weight, and make sure you have a good mix of proteins and carbohydrates. If you can, bring dehydrated meals from home. This is by far the easiest option (Firepot are our favourite, but others include Mountain House and Good To-Go).

As previously mentioned, it’s best to stock up in Tbilisi or other big cities. The selection in the small shops in Omalo and Pankisi is limited – think chocolate bars, packets of biscuits, tinned goods, pasta, porridge, and so on.

Store bread in a cloth bag (available to buy at Zero Effect in Tbilisi), and wrap cheese in muslin/gauze (you can buy a big enough roll at pharmacies in Georgia) to keep them fresh.

A couple of well stocked and centrally located supermarkets in Tbilisi are Carrefour (near Orbeliani Square and the flower market), and Goodwill (in the basement of Galleria Mall at Liberty Square).

SNACKS

Pre-made Trail Mix
(eg. nuts, raisins, M&Ms)

Churchkhela
(traditional Georgian snack of nuts on a string dipped in grape juice)

Tklapi
(Georgian fruit leather)

Trekking Bars
(available in Tbilisi supermarkets: Goodwill, Carrefour, etc.)

Snickers
(widely available)


BREAKFAST

Pre-mixed Muesli
(eg. oats + cinnamon + almonds + flax seeds + desiccated coconut – buy in Tbilisi) 

Porridge
(widely available)

Powdered Milk
(available in Carrefour, Tbilisi)

Honey
(small sachets available in Goodwill, Tbilisi)

Extra Toppings
(eg. chia seeds + goji berries + dried fruit + walnuts – buy in Tbilisi)

Coffee
(instant or use an
X-Brew + real coffee)


LUNCH

Hard cheese
(wrapped in muslin)

Bread
(stored in cloth bag)

Nutella/Peanut Butter
(carry in reusable secure plastic container)

Olive Oil
(carry in reusable secure plastic container)

Savoury Biscuits
(widely available)

Cured Meats
(available in bigger towns and cities)


DINNER

Dehydrated Meals
(bring from home)

‘Yelli’ Meals
(available to buy in Carrefour)

Pasta + Tomato Sauce + Cheese + Cured Meat
(small cartons of sauce available in Carrefour)

Pre-mixed ingredients portioned in ziploc bags
(bring dehydrated veggies from home as limited options available in Tbilisi).

Suggested ingredients: 

Buckwheat/Bulgar Wheat + Spices + Stock Cube + Dehydrated Veggies + Parmesan + Olive Oil + Seeds/Nuts + Dried Apricots + Cured Meat


ELECTRONICS

You’ll need a power bank (and appropriate cables) for charging your phone, plus camera batteries, etc. Remember an adapter if you want to charge at guesthouses. Note that they run off solar power in Tusheti. We also carry our own small solar panel. And in case of emergencies, we have a satellite communication device, the Garmin InReach.

TUSHETI TO PANKISI TREK ACCOMMODATION

Accommodation in guesthouses is available in Upper and Lower Omalo, Verkhovani, Jvarboseli, and various villages in Pankisi Valley (eg. Jokolo, Duisi). Guesthouses usually charge between 60-80 GEL per person for dinner, bed & breakfast. It’s also possible to get a packed lunch (often referred to as a ‘lunch box’), or indeed no meals at all (but with limited places to eat, it makes sense to always include the meals in your stay). Some places offer rooms with private bathrooms, but most have shared facilities. Guesthouses provide bedding and towels. The food (in our experience) is always good.

RECOMMENDED ACCOMMODATION

We highly recommend Nazy’s Guesthouse in Jokolo (Joqolo) village in Pankisi. Nazy speaks perfect English (as well as Georgian, Russian and Chechen) and is an excellent host. The guesthouse serves up delicious and authentic local food, and is the ideal place to relax.

Traditional food on the table at Nazy's Guesthouse in Pankisi Valley

Hearty and delicious traditional food at Nazy’s Guesthouse



Afternoon sun on the couch on the veranda at Nasi's Guesthouse in Pankisi Valley

The perfect place to relax and recover



Afternoon sun on the couch on the veranda at Nasi's Guesthouse in Pankisi Valley

Nazy’s Guesthouse in Pankisi Valley is the
perfect place to relax and recover after the trek



In Jvarboseli Posholi Guesthouse is modern and comfortable (+995 599208427). In Upper Omalo we stayed at the newly built Tsikhisdziri where we were very well looked after, had a private bathroom, and great views from the balcony.  Lamata (+995 599700378) is the only guesthouse in Verkhovani, where you can sleep in a stone tower!

Find more Tusheti accommodation and Pankisi accommodation options on Booking.com.

HOW TO GET TO AND FROM TUSHETI AND PANKISI

TRANSPORT TO OMALO, TUSHETI

There is no public transport to Tusheti. The closest you can get by marshrutka is Kvemo Alvani, from where you can take a shared jeep to Omalo. The road from Alvani to Omalo crosses the Abano Pass (2826 m) and is only accessible from around mid-June to October. A 4WD is required and it is advisable to travel with an experienced local driver. We haven’t experienced this road ourselves as we hiked into and out of Tusheti, but it does have a reputation for being somewhat hairraising.

Take a marshrutka from Ortachala in Tbilisi (9am, 7 GEL, approx 2 hours) to Alvani. In Alvani switch to a shared jeep (departures until approx 12pm, 75 GEL per seat, 4-5 hours). Alternatively, take a marshrutka from Tbilisi to Telavi, a service which run more frequently from Ortachala Bus Station (0820 – 1830, 7 GEL). From Telavi, take a taxi to Alvani, or you may find a shared jeep going all the way to Omalo (approx 75+ GEL per seat). 

You can also travel from Tbilisi to Telavi or Alvani by shared taxi (approx 10 GEL per seat/departs from Isani Metro Station).

In Omalo, ask at your guesthouse to book a seat in a shared jeep returning to Alvani, or Telavi (a bigger city with more connections). 

TRANSPORT TO PANKISI VALLEY

You can get to Pankisi Valley from Tbilisi by marshrutka. It takes around 3 hours and costs 10 GEL. They depart from Ortachala Bus Station at 0730 and 1420. Alternatively, marshrutkas from Tbilisi to Telavi run frequently from Ortachala between 0820-1830 (7 GEL). From Telavi you can then get a marshrutka to Pankisi (5 GEL) or take a taxi (approx 25 GEL). If you can’t get a direct marshrutka from Telavi to Pankisi, take one of the frequent marshrutkas to Akhmeta instead, then take a taxi from Akhmeta to Jokolo.

Leaving Pankisi you can take a direct marshrutka from Jokolo to Tbilisi at 0630 or 1230. You can take a marshrutka from Jokolo to Telavi at 0820 or 1330. Nazy can book seats for you and the driver will pick you up at the front door.

Nazy can also help organise a private or shared taxi in either direction. It costs 15 GEL per person for a shared taxi between Tbilisi and Jokolo. Find out more on Nazy’s website here.

TREKKING FROM TUSHETI TO PANKISI VALLEY

That’s the lot. If you have any useful info to add or stories to share, get in touch through the comments section below. Equally, if you have any questions, let us know and we’ll do our best to answer them. And if you’re planning your own trek, good luck and enjoy!

ORGANISE YOUR TRIP


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Trekking from Tusheti to Pankisi ValleyTrekking from Tusheti to Pankisi ValleyTrekking from Tusheti to Pankisi ValleyTrekking from Tusheti to Pankisi ValleyTrekking from Tusheti to Pankisi ValleyTrekking from Tusheti to Pankisi Valley
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