Omalo-Shatili hiking trail in Georgia
Discover one of the most remote hiking trails in Georgia, that connects two magnificent regions, Tusheti with Khevsureti. 75 km long trail will take you through east Caucasus range. You will cross 3431 m high Atsunta mountain pass and visit remarkable medieval fortresses and ancient villages. Tusheti becomes isolated and covered with snow from October to June, making it impossible to access via spectacular Abano pass 2950 m (also known as one of the most dangerous roads in the world according to BBC) and thus limiting the precious hiking period. On the other hand, though, it gave these regions the possibility to keep local traditions and architectural styles.
So in this article you will find a detailed description of the Omalo-Shatili hiking trail that was done in September 2020. The sunny and perfect weather allowed us to cover the whole trail successfully in 4 days. Due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic in the world plus the end of the season, we were literally alone on this trek, but usually it’s one of the most popular Georgia hikes. You can read more about other hiking trails or what to see in Georgia in our blog. So let’s begin:
Important facts to know before you start Omalo - Shatili trail
Total length of trail: 75 km.
Start point: Upper Omalo, Tusheti region.
End point: Shatili, Khevsureti region.
Duration: 4 days, but some people do in 5 days too.
What should you pack?
Hiking boots, gear, camping equipment and cash.
When should you go?
June – September (depending on the road and snow conditions that year).
What are the dangers?
Aggressive shepherd dogs, high altitude pass, altitude sickness, fast change in weather, remoteness, language barriers, if you feel unsure or it’s your first hiking experience, better to join guided hikes.
What are the highlights?
Tusheti and Pshav-Khevsureti National Parks, endemic wildlife, the hospitality and food of local communities, high mountain passes, regional history and traditions, medieval defence towers.
Where to stay?
There are guesthouses in Omalo, Dartlo, Parsma, Girevi and Shatili, see the list of recommended guesthouses at the end of the article. Although 2 nights you have to stay in tents.
How to get to the start?
Take Marshrutka from Ortachala bus station in Tbilisi to Upper Alvani (Zemo Alvani) and there hire a driver to Omalo.
Day 1 Omalo - Parsma
Distance: 25 km
Accumulated elevation gain: ⬆ 1152m; ⬇ 969 m
Hiking time: 10 hours
The trail starts from Upper Omalo (zemo Omalo), so if you’ve arrived in Lower Omalo (kvemo Omalo), first you need to go up there, then pass Keselo fortress and continue walking to the right on the dirt road. You will descend through the forest trail to a small valley with a signpost that says to turn left, but it’s for the cars. You need to go to the right and soon start following the footpath to the left that will take you through the forests and eventually will connect to the dirt road. You will start losing the height, so don't expect a lot of open views. At 11th km, you will reach the river, cross the bridge and arrive in a beautiful village named Dartlo.
Some people do like to stay and spend a nice evening in Dartlo (also explore nearby village Dano) and hike the rest of the trek the next day, if you have time we'd advise to split it too. Though we preferred to cover a bigger distance at once. From Dartlo, you continue again on the dirt road but in the valley, so you will have a sight of stunning mountains. In some 2 hours, you will pass by the village Chesho from which will be left only 6 km till Parsma, the endpoint of the first hiking day.
If you wish, you can continue hiking till the next village Gir