A wild road to Ushguli, the highest town in Europe
Located in the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region of Georgia, at the head of the Enguri gorge, Ushguli is the highest continuously inhabited settlement in Europe at an elevation of 2.410m (7,910ft) above the sea level.
Tucked away in the western part of the country, the road to the town is totally unpaved and usable by anybody with a SUV, a spare tire and a large, full gas tank, despite the fact that according to several informations and people who drove here, they believe it’s a mistake to sign it as a road for cars on the map, and should be marked as a mud road or a path for walking. Located at the feet of Shkhara, one of the highest Caucasian summits, the road to the town is a nightmare. It follows (and crosses many times) the Patara Enguri River. The road can be rough in places and it’s better avoiding this drive after heavy rains. High risk of rock slides.
The road is 92.3km (57.35 miles) long starting at Tsageri (a town in Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti region in the west of the country). The journey offers astounding views of mountain peaks, luscious valleys, and the remains of glaciers. The road to the town tops out by Zagari Pass, at 2.620m (8,595ft) above the sea level. This road is snow-covered for 6 months of the year and usually impassable from late October through late June or early July (depending on snow).
The drive can take your breath away: it’s definitely not for anyone suffering from vertigo or a fear of landslides. The path is bumpy, littered with rocks and frequent streams and perilously steep drops. It is hardly used because it’s really tough. The road is in awful shape. Periods of much rain makes the road undrivable. The armed robberies you probably heard about seem to be a thing of the past, and you can safely travel across the region and even take on the occasional hitch-hiker.
Pic&video: Voyager Team