24th of August 2017
When we planned our walk across Georgia, we divided the trek in four sections. The sections #1, 2 and 4 would each average 200km and require 10 to 12 walking days (so 16 to 20 days in total with rest and visits), while the section #3 only represents four days in full autonomy through a big national park. Arriving in Ambrolauri last week meant we finished the section 1, which should be the longest (at least timewise) and the most mountainous. Hiking 207km in 14 days, we were amazed to realize (althgough we could definitely feel it in our legs) that we conquered 11375m of elevation gain and 12195m of vertical drop carrying at least 20kg each.
In terms of denivelation from the sea level, it is like climbing Everest almost one time and a half! And going back down!
A whole new challenge awaits us now: crossing the last two thirds of the country without marked trails or any touristic infrastructure to guide us. Dirt roads, forest tracks and asphalt highways, lots of heat and villages with no accommodation or proper markets whatsoever and a bigger language barrier than ever before.
Let’s do this!
7th of September 2017
To cross a country on foot on hiking trails is one thing. To cross a country on foot using dirt roads, forestry tracks and anything that we can find is another.
That’s what was awaiting us as we started the 2nd section of our expedition and left the well-marked trails of the northern mountains. But there was a bigger challenge than walking on actual roads: the absence of touristic infrastructure. We were quickly forced to revise our itinerary for the 2nd section according to… accommodation and food. While we initially thought we would find several guesthouses/hotels and markets on our path, we had to adapt to the rural and non-touristic reality of a country that is still (as a whole) rather undiscovered.
In the end, the section 2 took us only 6 hiking days (instead of the 12 we had planned!), each one of them averaging 25km on top of 900m of elevation gain, and another 900m of vertical drop. Definitely not a walk in the park!
But the authenticity of the countryside we cross, of the people we encounter and the generosities we witness are worth it a thousand times.
14th of September 2017
The third section of our trek across Georgia, which consisted in crossing the Borjomi National Park, took only three days and 44 km. Three very intense days in the mountains with a dozen rivers to cross barefoot (only one of the bridges that weren’t collapsed was passable), a 1350m climb in the mud, several abandoned trails and amazingly fresh brown bear footprints.
Nature all the way, for better or worse!
1st of October 2017
The fourth and last section of our trek across Georgia made us discover a region that had nothing to do with the mountainous and green Georgia we knew. Arid landscapes, vast fields and their flocks of cows, horses, donkeys and sheep, the different features of the locals we encountered (as well as their language!) made us realize that this last section was already immersing us into an Armenia that was accessible now more than ever.
Walking an average of 24,5km/day allowed us to reach the Armenian border in six hiking days for a total of 147km, 3670m of elevation gain and 2510m of vertical drop.