The Road

In and around the Ushguli

Some places are must-see, attracting masses of tourists every year, they are like that for a reason. The magical Ushguli is Europe’s highest continuously inhabited community of four villages (2060-2200m). As the tourist season had not begun we were lucky to explore the authentic beauty of Ushgulis villages alone. We couldn’t get our eyes off of the settlement, with its old stone-wooden buildings and ancient Svan towers (part of the UNESCO Heritage). We looked at the details of the walls, the yellow binding material for the rocks is a mixture of egg yolk and wheat. It was amazing how the famous towers, nowadays bending and crumbling, could survive not only invasions of endless list of armies, but also avalanches – by cutting them through. Here and there, narrow streets were occupied by pigs and cows, we had to squeeze through them to get further!

The night valley with the mountain wall of the Greater Caucasus in front of us offered a peaceful place to arrange our own memorial to Tiia’s sister that recently passed away. We sat a long time in silence, looking at the starry sky and listened to the stormy wind that created humming harmonies. Strong and sweet taste of chacha (made by a local elder couple) stayed in our tongues long and warmed our bodies. Old stray dog, who followed us throughout all the day, slept calmly nearby. The whole place with its unique appearance let the memories come through. It felt right to be exactly there in this remote village and, in our own way, say goodbye.

On the last day we followed the Enguri river to the Shkhara glacier, which gorgeously stood in the distance. At times the shallow river was flooding the road and together with a couple of stray dogs, we had to find various ways to jump over it. In the end, we chose a more challenging path and climbed up along the huge boulder which changed to a small path down through a dense forest. The foot of the glacier offered a place to rest and we took our time to admire the views of magnificent Shkhara mountain and its sharp snowy peak that gleamed under the sun.

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