Recommendations for Visitors
Activities within the territories of Protected Areas
the following activities fall under Regulations within the Protected Areas:
a) access for visitors to certain places;
b) hunting, fishing, camping, making fire, commercial and business activities, construction of buildings and roads and changing their historical image, using land, water or airway transport above, on or under the territory.
c) visitor behavior according to protective regime throughout day and night.
d) to collect or catch plants and animals and to transport them outside the territory.
e) to catch, isolate and eliminate unattended animals.
Shepherd Dogs-almost along all tourist tracks in Tusheti there are two or three Shepherds places which are guarded by dogs. One can manage situation quite well if one takes into consideration the following tips
A shepherd’s dog is a guardian of its owner’s property-that is a shepherd’s hut, or cow herd or sheep flock. It means that one is not allowed to find oneself near the place where all these three stand or graze , so they are not after people, they are just fulfilling their commitments and as long as one is maintaining distance showing that one is not trying to invade their territory they will just bark and watch , keep distance and will never attack or get overaggressive.
BUT there can be some more complex situations than that, for example if the path runs through grazing area and one can’t keep far enough from the herd, actually one is running into it. Usually cow herds are watched by one or two dogs only, but sheep flocks are accompanied by shepherds also. When meeting guardian dogs one has to show them that one is prepared and dangerous too , but nothing more. Any aggression or attempt to fight the dog off causing serious injuries to animals or even trying to kill them will first of all lead visitors into serious problems. As Dogs can be better attackers than humans . Just Take a stick, a stone and throw and wave them just to keep them away and meanwhile try to go past the herd quickly into neutral lands. Dogs usually don’t see what you have in your hands ,but when one bends to take a stone that action is unmistakable for them and they know that you are dangerous , they run and one has distance and time to walk away.
IF you can’t cope or you are too much afraid call for a shepherd, they are usually somewhere near the sheep flock and wait for help! But with cow dogs you mostly have to cope alone. But they are generally less dangerous than sheep dogs.
Don’t go into shepherds place even when there are no dogs if you don’t see any host. Dogs can let you in, but they won’t let you out until the owner comes.
Behavior and traditions- traditions are minded in mountainous Georgia even stricter than in the lowland. Certain forms of behavior which are acceptable somewhere in Europe and Tbilisi (capital of Georgia) are not quite welcome in the Caucasus. Of course respecting the hospitality rules no one will protest it straight away ,but it also depends on situation, people and individual nature of generally unwelcome acts. So sometimes it can cause problems.
Some unwritten rules of Caucasian traditional code of behavior are the following:
. Try not to bathe naked near the road or in the middle of the village, where everybody sees you. It is totally disturbing for locals.
. To receive invitations even from unknown people is polite and shows your respect, but be aware of too much drinking especially when invited by shepherds and cow herders . They usually are very glad to have guests because they don’t meet many people there.
. If you offer a drink to locals be ready to share the same attitude of hospitality as they have. Try to be as self-giving as the locals are and offer them the whole bottle. That will gain you real friends.
. Some traditional behavior restrictions between men and women are also common in Tusheti. During festivals women and men sit apart on festive table. Women are not allowed to participate in sacred rituals of Khati –Shrine and to step on its territory, which is usually several square meters around the shrine. Shrines can be situated inside and outside of the village. There are several shrines in each village. The boundary of shrine is often denoted with stones or not at all. In this case when arriving in a village ask where the sacred place is and don’t break the women taboo- That will show your respect to local beliefs and spare unpleasant experience with locals. Locals believe that breaking this taboo (as well as any other kind of taboos) destroys natural balance and some drastic changes in weather are to be awaited, rainstorm and etc. if taboo is broken in many places, many times it can bring total loss of balance and natural disaster.
Also keep in mind very important practical information
Pshvaeli-Omalo car road is considered to be one of the most dangerous roads in the world. The road winds up to 3000 meters with sharp curves. It goes on steep slopes and when two cars meet there is not enough space for both to pass. For a driver who comes here for the first time the road can be a serious challenge even by good weather and no interfering conditions. Everything goes worse when there is only one meter visibility because of fog, which is quite common even in summer on some parts of the road, and because of landslides which occur there after every heavy rainfall. The road opens in May and closes at the end of October. Several families staying for winter in Omalo are isolated from the rest of the world. They keep touch with the civilized world with the help of border police military flights in case of emergency and the last 5 years there is mobile network coverage which enables locals to keep touch with their families and relatives.
. You are running risk of having your tires cut by sharp stones which come off the cliffs. Even experienced Tush drivers make that mistake often, especially during sheep and cattle driving season, May and September-October.
. If a massive landslide occurs you have to wait for a tractor for several hours to sweep it away, or you have to drive over the smaller mounds, which experienced drivers usually do.
. By low visibility there is a greater danger of coming off track and crashing from the steep slope.
. So if you take the risk of driving on your own anyway, be conscious of the fact that you are taking a serous life threatening risk and only utmost caution and good skills would take you through this challenge safe.