Beyond clouds - through Russia to Georgia

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by randel, Sep 27, 2011.

  1. Memelender

    Memelender n00b

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    Lithuania
    No, we do not need a visa to entering Georgia. Probably we will change our plans and we will go the same way as you did.
    And find out that September is the best date to visit Georgia as we are planned before. Thank you.

    We are waiting RR continue....
    #41
  2. fonsecarlos

    fonsecarlos Adventurer

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    Jul 23, 2009
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    Excelent:clap

    We are waiting for more.
    #42
  3. way gone

    way gone n00b

    Joined:
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    Start an Adventure Tour Company Today!! Your 2013 trips would be booked so full you wouldn't know what hit you. Since I came up with the idea, I get first spot.
    #43
  4. Revenue

    Revenue Adventurer

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    Mukdahan in the Jungle
    Great News on the border crossing we will be passing this way in July from Georgia to Russia, will save the old ferry problems.
    Great report

    Eric
    #44
  5. Mumblebee

    Mumblebee Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2011
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    Location:
    Ghent, Belgium
    Me and a friend will ride across the black sea from june till the end of august. So its really nice to read this RR
    Keep up the good work and looking forward to read the next post :thumbup

    I do have some questions: Do you have GPS tracks from your trip in Georgia? Is it dangerous to ride the Military highway road?
    #45
  6. randel

    randel Been here awhile

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    Mattighofen
    Our gps track is downloadable in .gpx fomat from here http://www.geoape.com/tracklogs/gruusia-tsiklireis-2011-3148
    Military Highway is the ONLY road from border to Tbilisi but it's not dangerous at all, only road conditions may be poor occasionally, but with according speed you should not have any problems. We saw even one bike travelling 2-up there. And there were massive roadworks going on at this time so it's probably much better already. If you have concerned about road surface smoothness, you should not visit Georgia at all (or at least more remote areas), but with enduro bikes it's pure joy :D
    #46
  7. Mumblebee

    Mumblebee Adventurer

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    It's not the road surface smoothness that bothers me, thats one of the reasons we want to travel those lands. But I was just wondering about safety. I ask this because on the website of our belgian department of foreign affairs the following is stated about Georgia: " It is strongly discouraged that foreigners go to the following regions:
    • the region around the border with the republics of the Northern Caucasus (Chechnya, Dagestan, North Ossetia) and the valley of Pankissi above Akhmeta
    • the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, including the area near the demarcation line between Georgia and these two areas." I think its just bollocks then?
    #47
  8. woodly1069

    woodly1069 Long timer

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    Location:
    Louisville, KY...really too far from the hills!
    This sounds so typical of governments in general! If we were to listen to them we would never go anywhere!
    Nice to know you guys felt safe and I am truly enjoying the photos from your report! Now I have to add Georgia to some of the MUST SEE places on my list!:D
    #48
  9. randel

    randel Been here awhile

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    I thought that you are not talking about roads smoothness :D
    To be honest, we never felt unsafe in Georgia, but usual awareness and common sense is a must everywhere, also in Belgium I believe. There are possible problems on those areas though, near South-Ossetia and Abkhazia borders. We met border guards in Svaneti and they asked from us, did we saw anybody on the roads we just rode. So they are following these areas.obviously pretty closely, but we never saw anything not normal during our trip.
    And that's what governments usually do, they will warn you if there is only slight possibility of problems.
    #49
  10. spektakl

    spektakl Mongol Rallyer 2010

    Joined:
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    Barcelona, Spain
    Great! Subscribed, and thanks for sharing!
    #50
  11. randel

    randel Been here awhile

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    Location:
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    Our route on day 6

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    Day 7

    Morning came with usual routine - I was preparing breakfast, Jänx packing our tent and other stuff and of course making notes from previous days highlights. Our plan for today was Tusheti - one of the most beautiful and remote mountain regions of Georgia, with its amazing alpine meadows, snowy mountains, glaciers and a variety of forests. It is one of the most ecologically unspoiled regions in the Caucasus. The area comprises ten villages with Omalo being the largest. (From http://www.visitgeorgia.ge/en/information/mountain-regions)
    We planned to follow small gravel road through Akhmeta to Pshaveli and then ride north until road ends.

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    Overtaking trucks wasn't easy

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    Cows looking for shelter

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    Collecting drinking water. We used such taps everywhere and had no complaints about water quality.

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    Old classic - GAZ-21 Volga - this car was only reserved for directors in the past.

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    We checked out abandoned Kvetera church on hilltop. They have great system for traffic signs about sightseeing places in Georgia. First sign is probably 500-1000 meters before actual intersection so you don't have to slow down immediately but can decide, would you like to check it out or not and then make a turn on time.
    We met a group of polish travelers with two SUV's there.

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    From inside

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    We turned north to Tusheti and started to slowly climb to Abano pass - highest in Georgia with 2900 meters (9500ft).
    Asphalt was soon replaced with gravel and road turns narrower and narrower.

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    Washing visor with icecold water

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    Of course no barriers. At first uncomfortable, but we soon got used to such "freedom"

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    Approximately at 1000 meters, It feels like we are already on top, but actually it's still almost 2000 more meters to climb.

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    Biggest truck we saw - old russian 6x6. It takes a real man to drive that truck on this road!

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    Road servicing equipment.

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    We climbed and cimbed until we were BEYOND CLOUDS :clap

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    Road was sometimes quite whoopy - wheeling steep uphill, 3rd gear, 70-80km/h, on 2 meter wide road makes you really feel alive :wink:

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    Until we finally reached Abano pass, 2923m. My carbed 950SE with H2W (sea level) jetting kit had no problems, of course a little bit less poer and starting the engine required little throttle, but otherwise perfect!
    We met a group of italian tourists there with two minibuses, they offered us a drink, but we decided it's really not a place to drink and drive :rofl
    Now we have to decend to Omalo. It's more than 1000m lower somewhere there.

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    Road to Omalo. Just amazing! There is no electricity and people live there only few months in a year when that road is passable. Remote and wild part of Georgia.

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    We encountered two types of drivers in mountains. Some will let you pass rather quickly, but others seemed to try to block your overtaking attempts like Felipe Massa or Lewis Hamilton in F1. You really have to watch your moment when they lost attention or there is a wider section somewhere and then go, fast!
    We finally reach Omalo. It's like medieval city.

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    Roads in Tusheti

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    After driving around some hours, we felt like it's time to drive back to civilization. When driving back up to Abano pass, weather changed and it started to rain. It wasn't very pleasing ride through clouds on wet rocks, and always knowing that's right next to you is invisible drop of few hundred meters. We finally reached top and started to decend, weather was not so bad anymore.

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    As we realized now, sunset wasn't far away and we are still on the mountains. Next km's was best described as "stand-up, drive as fast as you can, don't kill your brakes and try to stay on the road". We survived.
    As Telavi was not too far away and we feel that today we would like to have a room and shower, we decided to find a Bed&Breakfast there. Finally with a help of a taxi driver we found a simple room for 20lari (ca10 Euro)

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    After shower we took a walk to Telavi center, but it was so quiet we soon decided to return with some local drinks. First night in a bed!

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    Todays route, 216km

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    #51
  12. Volker@Bandit

    Volker@Bandit n00b

    Joined:
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    Please keep going. I`m waiting for the rest of the RR.

    Greetings
    #52
  13. Mumblebee

    Mumblebee Adventurer

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    Ghent, Belgium
    me too
    #53
  14. David Lee

    David Lee Adventurer

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    Location:
    Fleet, Hants. UK
    And me :clap
    #54
  15. Memelender

    Memelender n00b

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2011
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    Location:
    Lithuania
    keep going :deal
    #55
  16. roninwva

    roninwva Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Hurricane, WVa., USA
    The road through Abano pass looks fantastic. Quite an adventure. Wouldn't it be great if anyone could pull up to a border crossing, show your passport, and hear the guard say, welcome to our country, have a wonderful trip.
    #56
  17. Volker@Bandit

    Volker@Bandit n00b

    Joined:
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    Already even better in europe.
    From Portugal to Finland, from Scotland to Greece you don`t even need a passport.:clap
    Just cross the border without any control.
    #57
  18. flaldrider

    flaldrider Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2009
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    You are doing a excellent job of providing us a wonderful visual and descriptive ride report. Keep up the great writing.

    I have subscribed to your Ride Report.

    Mike
    #58
  19. randel

    randel Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Day 8
    First task for this morning was tightening my bike's chain. It looked already very worn and I started to worry how to get back home with this chain. Actually I knew that chain would be a problem, because it had already 12000km before our trip, but I didn't want to change perfectly good chain than :wink:

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    Our B&B (w/o breakfast :wink:)

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    So we headed to Telavi center to find some breakfast. Minced meet, very tasty. I have forgotten the georgian name for this food though.

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    Fountain in Telavi

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    Our plan for today was to go west. We planned to pass Tbilisi and visit Georgian capital on our way back home if we have time.
    Next suitable goal from our gps seemed to be Vardzia - the cave city from 12th century.
    So we filled our tanks with fuel, typed "Vardzia" as a goal to our gps and hit the road.. Every georgian fuel station has friendly personnel standing next to the pump, ready to fill your bike (car etc) fueltank for you. We never could refuel on our own there!
    First km's were nice and smooth asphalt

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    Straight road, not so common in Georgia :wink:

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    Soon we reached mountains again.

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    Of course every now and then we encountered some gravel strips.

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    And you must be prepared for this too

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    After few hours we reached Georgian only highway, from Tbilisi to the sea.

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    Next to Tbilisi we found a place with many houses, all similar to each other.

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    Those houses were built from Georgian government for people who lost they're houses in war against Russia in 2008.
    And then was time for lunch.

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    Wild boar from the restaurant

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    After lunch Raul's bike's rear tire was flat again. Luckily suitable repair shop was right there, just across the road!

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    Old patch we glued on few days ago was gone. Now we let specialists to do they're job. And they did it perfectly, we didn't have any problems with tires anymore during our trip. It wasn't easy to work under the sunshine and temperature around +35C (I have no idea how many F, but probably alot :lol3 )

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    And soon we were ready to go again. Guys from tire repair refused to take any money from us, so Raul gave them one of the small souvenir bottles with "Old Tallinn" liqueur we had with us. After that they asked us to not drive any further, but stay with them for tonight and have a party. Great! :rofl We decided to go on though.
    Everywhere in Georgia you must be aware of cows! They can walk everywhere and everybody must wait.

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    We needed some supplies and found a shop - it's almost a supermarket in Georgia.

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    When we drove through villages, we discovered that every village has they're own specialty, some were selling bread, some carpets and so on. This village was selling hammocks. We couldn't understand why they were specialized like that. If you missed a village which sells bread you couldn't buy it from another!

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    We bought a watermelon. They were very surprised when we requested for smaller one, because we couldn't fit regular-sized watermelon on our bikes. :rofl

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    Unfinished bridge over the valley. Georgian road construction department has probably much better funding In the past. We saw such signs everywhere.

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    Looking for a campsite for tonight we found some really steeep trails and both of us crashed few times before we gave up.

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    Another dead end.

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    Looking better.

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    Found it right before sunset!

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    Setting up our kitchen

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    Our dinner

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    And dessert

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    And that's it for today. 260km. We believed to be not too far away from Vardzia and visit it tomorrow.

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    #59
  20. AlpineGuerrilla

    AlpineGuerrilla Been here awhile

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    Basel, Switzerland
    :clap Great stuff!

    How did you conversate in Georgia, in russian? Is it ok to speak russian, or do they frown upon it?
    #60