We are on our way to the Unesco village of Ushguli. A small town located at an altitude of about 2100 meters and right at the base of Shkhara, the highest mountain in Georgia. It is said that Ushguli is the highest continuously inhabited settlement in Europe. A lot of superlatives and we can’t wait to see for ourselves.
We leave Mestia with the sun shining and a clear blue sky, slowly climbing to the first unknown pass. As we reach the summit, we meet three Spanish cyclists heading the opposite direction. It’s great to speak Spanish again! They tell us about the two dogs that have been following them for about 80 kilometers or so! Wow, good we brought a Dazer to scare them off… little did we know.
Tarmac is finished and a dusty and muddy track continues to climb slowly towards Ushguli. The weather is changing as clouds roll in again. And by the time we reach Ushguli mount Shkhara has completely disappeared from our view.. a bit disappointed we find a place to stay at one of the many guesthouses and hope tomorrow will be better.
Last night thunder and lightning kept us awake and this morning it’s not much better. It’s raining cats and dogs as we leave Ushguli to ride up to the Zagari pass. All other tourists head back the same way they came, this means no traffic at all! Apart from one guy on a horse, it’s just us here. Well, that’s not entirely true.. as we left Ushguli this morning, two dogs came running to us with only one goal: join the pack. Remembering the conversation we had with the Spanish cyclists, we quickly grab the Dazer to scare the hell out of them. They tilt their heads when hearing the high sound and start wagging their tails! Wow, that will teach them a lesson! NOT.. maybe throwing rocks will help? They start fetching them! Yelling? More tail wagging… I guess we are stuck with them now.. we are going uphill, so it’s easy for them to follow us. We decide to keep going and hope they will loose interest when we ignore them. They don’t…
In the tiny town of Mele we are invited to stay with a family and looking at the mud and the rain, we decide to accept their invitation. Their guesthouse is just too nice to pass!
Yesterday one of the dogs decided to exchange us for two cyclists going the other way, but the black labrador is still with us. I guess, giving him food was not the best idea.. but we feel so sorry for him. Last night he slept under the stairs at the guesthouse and as soon as he sees us this morning, he is so happy, but we have no intention of keeping the dog. What to do?
A couple of kilometers after Mele pavement takes over, but it’s a bit of a rollercoaster ride and every time we think we lost him, he catches up with us. Completely exhausted… for 20 kilometers he keeps running and running. In small villages he almost sticks to our bikes, seeking shelter from other dogs… heart breaking. Then, finally; hairpins, a long fast downhill, this time he can’t keep up. It breaks our heart to see him still trying… crazy dog! It’s time to move on.
We are not able to reach Kutaisi in one day, but we find a great camp spot near the river. The next day it’s a quick 40 kilometer ride into town. We stay here an extra day to visit the Prometheus Cave, with it’s disco lighting and the Motsometa Monestary. Enjoying holiday time and feeling very relaxed. 😉