Canyons like Utah, glaciers on 16,000-foot-high mountains, prairies like Mongolia, and a subtropical coastline—Georgia has it all and much more. Yes, I came because of the great landscape. But already my first day on the bike reveals a flaw in my travel plan. I didn’t include the Georgians who would play an important role during this trip. To drive home the significance of my mistake, I present the following scenes that happened all in one day.
After arriving by plane and renting a KTM in Tbilisi, I head to this great wild camp spot on top of a hill with a view over Tsalka Lake and some snow-covered mountains. The first night is rather short; I’m too excited. Immediately after sunrise, I ride down the hill into the first town, expecting to find a cafe for breakfast. But as I enter the town, it doesn’t seem that promising. The droppings of cow and sheep herds which roam the area cover the road. Slipping would result in an olfactory disaster. The once surely good-looking wooden houses seem neglected. The search for a cafe is to no avail. A fruit stand provides the only glimmer of hope and I buy some very cheap and sweet apricots and cherries.
I start to eat my bounty beside a concrete bench of a bus stop. I must’ve looked miserable, because the lady from the fruit stand suddenly—without asking—brings me a cup of coffee. It’s made simply with hot water, coffee powder, and plenty of sugar, but it’s the best I could imagine at the moment.
West of Tsalka I leave the asphalt road, heading toward Lake Tabatskuri. My path leads into a high plain surrounded by 10,000-foot-high mountains. Seeing the sheep herds all over the distant slopes, the place reminds me very much of Mongolia. I detect a group of herders close to the path and ride over to ask for the way. A big mistake! Their huge, snarling dogs don’t like me at all. Fortunately, one of the five men stops them with a cry and a wooden stick, allowing me to approach safely.
Motorcycle & Gear
2019 KTM 690 Enduro
Immediately, they invite me to sit down at their “table”—a wooden box. In a big pot, they have just cooked lamb, and beside it stands an oversized teakettle. Again without asking, they hand me a plate of lamb, with a piece of bread and a cup of tea. The elder of the group gives me his jacket so I don’t have to sit on the grass. The men and the surroundings are rather rustic, but rejecting the offer is not an option. The meat, cooked in salted water, tastes great as it is. But the fact that I’m sitting in this epic landscape and enjoying the hospitality of strangers transforms it into a real delicacy.