Tusheti is a historical region in Georgia. It is the most picturesque, fascinating, and pristine high-mountain region. Located in the Kakheti region, Akhmeta municipality (900-4800m above sea level). Meanwhile, the whole area is under environmental protection as the Tusheti Protected Areas (1137 sq. km). This region is on the tentative list of UNESCO world heritage.

The major river of the eastern part is Alazani, while that of the western part is the Iori. Kakheti is well known as the homeland of Georgian wines. As it is considered, Alazani valley is the cradle of winemaking.

Brief History of Tusheti

The area of Tusheti is believed to have long been inhabited by the Tush people, an ethnic subgroup of Georgians. The Tush are divided into 2 groups: the Chagma-Tush (who speak the Old Georgian dialect) and the Tsova-Tush (also Bats, who speak the Nakh dialect). Archeological findings suggest that the region of Tusheti was already inhabited in the Bronze Age (12th – 9th century BC). The earliest written mentions of Tusheti come from Greek Geographer and historian Ptolemy in the 2nd century BC. He is placing Tushs next to the Didos tribe of Dagestanian.

In the 4th century due to the Christianization of the Iberian Kingdom, many highlanders, including ancestors of the Tush people, sought refuge in uninhabited mountains to preserve their pagan religions. Only from the 10th century, the Tushetian region becomes formally under the control of Kakheti bishops with their pastoral administration based in Alaverdi. Nevertheless, no church as such was built there during the entire period of the Middle Ages.

At the turn of the 14th century, Tamerlane’s military campaigns brought the most severe disaster for medieval Tusheti. It was probably the only time in its history when the Keselo castle in today’s Omalo was conquered and completely burnt down. Due to the raids, the region got partly depopulated.

Following the collapse of the unified Georgian Kingdom in the 1460s, the Kakhetian kings took control of Tusheti. In exchange for their military service and promise to pay taxes, King Levan of Kakheti (1520-1574) granted the Tush the right to use winter pastures within the Caucasian foothills, specifically in the Alazani Valley. As a reward for their support of the Bakhtrioni Uprising in 1669, the Tush people were granted ownership of the Alazani Valley lands.

From the 16th-17th century, Tusheti was facing raids from Dagestan and Chechnya. However, during the mid-19th century Great Caucasian war, Tush supported the Russian empire, which defeated the Persians and effectively ended the raids from Dagestan.

However, during the first half of the 19th century, many Tush families started moving into the lowland fields of Alazani Valley. This migration process continued till the middle of 20 century. In the 1970s the Soviet government decided to resettle Tusheti and allowed the people to return. They installed electricity, built roads, a library a school, and a health center. However, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Tusheti faced socio-economic hardships that led to further migration.

The massive depopulation of Tusheti over the centuries ultimately helps preserve the region’s unique cultural identity. Recent decades have seen government-led initiatives to restore the architectural and cultural heritage of Tusheti and develop it as a tourist destination. Today, Tusheti’s amazing landscape and stunning medieval architecture make the region a tourist’s haven in modern Georgia.

Why Travel to Tusheti?

Tusheti is a unique destination that offers travelers a combination of natural beauty, cultural richness, and a glimpse into a way of life that has remained largely unchanged for centuries. Here are some reasons why you should consider traveling to Tusheti:

Nature – Tusheti, with its snow-capped peaks, mountains and pastures, pine forests, streams, and watery has always attracted visitors. This inaccessible land is the homeland of a Tush horse, a Tush sheep, and a Georgian shepherd. The region is also home to rare wildlife such as Caucasian turs, brown bears, wolves, and lynxes.

Cultural heritage – Tusheti has a rich cultural heritage that is reflected in its traditional architecture, music, dance, and festivals. The Tush people have preserved their unique language and traditions, including the art of sheep-herding, which is an integral part of their livelihoods.

Adventure – Tusheti is a great destination for adventure travelers, offering activities such as hiking, horseback riding, mountaineering, and camping. The region’s rugged terrain and remote location provide a challenging but rewarding experience for those seeking to explore off the beaten path.

Authenticity – Tusheti is an authentic destination that has remained largely untouched by mass tourism. The region offers travelers a chance to experience a way of life that has remained largely unchanged for centuries.

Cuisine – People of Tusheti are traditionally shepherds, and their cuisine is based on meat and dairy products. Also in Tusheti, we can find khinkali and khachapuri (Thinner, filled with cheese or curd, and called Kotori). A traditional shepherd’s meal is Khavitsi, a high-calorie mix of salty curd and butter. But the most famous local product is “guda cheese” tasty sheep cheese that ages in sheepskins.

Tusheti is also probably the only Georgian region that has a long tradition of brewing beer. For centuries, they´ve been brewing aludi – sweet dark beer made of hops and mountain barley. Originally it used to be consumed only during local festivals but nowadays is available all summer long.

Hospitality – The Tush people are known for their hospitality and warmth towards visitors. They have a long tradition of welcoming guests into their homes and offering them food, drink, and shelter.

Overall, Tusheti is a destination that offers travelers a unique combination of natural beauty, cultural richness, and authentic experiences. Whether you’re an adventure seeker, a culture enthusiast, or just looking for a peaceful retreat in nature, Tusheti is definitely worth a visit.

Capital Omalo
Area 969 km2

Regions of Georgia

More about Tusheti

Map of Tusheti

The road to Tusheti

The road to Tusheti is known for being one of the most challenging and adventurous drives in Georgia. It is a winding and narrow mountain road that passes through the high Caucasus mountains, and it is only open for a few months each year due to heavy snowfall in the winter.

The road to Tusheti starts from the village of Omalo, which is located at an altitude of over 2,000 meters. The road is approximately 70 km long and takes about 4-5 hours to drive. It passes through several villages, including Dartlo, Shenako, and Diklo, and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

Due to the challenging nature of the road, it is recommended that visitors hire a local driver with a 4×4 vehicle to make the journey to Tusheti. The road is also subject to closures and delays due to weather conditions, so it is important to check road conditions before attempting the drive.

Despite the challenges, the road to Tusheti is a unique and unforgettable experience that offers visitors a glimpse into the rugged beauty of Georgia’s high mountains and traditional mountain culture. More…

Tours in Tusheti

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