Mountainbiking in Georgia - Shatili to Omalo - safety and food concerns
Replies: 13 - Last Post: Jan 26, 2013 8:15 AM Last Post By: henalff
Dec 1, 2012 7:18 PM
Mountainbiking in Georgia - Shatili to Omalo - safety and food concernsHi, I have four questions:
1. I'm planning on cycling the trail from Shatili to Omalo up in the Northern Caucasus. I was wondering if there are any safety concerns with bears/wolves/dogs ect?
2. How well used/marked are some of the less popular trails. The main trail between Shatili and Omalo seems pretty well used, however from looking at maps there are dozens of other trails that look quite interesting.
3. Is there anything that would stop me taking a bike up some of the trials - I'm happy to push/carry the bike, but if you would even need to think about ropes, I can't do it.
4. How easy is it to get food in small settlements along the way? As I'm cycling I can't carry a weeks worth of food, though I can get between settlements faster than if I was on foot.
Dec 2, 2012 11:28 AM
Dec 3, 2012 12:05 AM
21.) The biggest issue is the aggressive sheep dogs that are absolutely everywhere anytime of year that's not snowed out. They will approach anyone snapping ans snarling a lot, and quite frankly, the shepherds sometime can be lazy in calling them off. Its up to you how you deal with them, I guess keeping a big stick handy is always useful, or other people recommended mace. Aside from the weather and getting lost, nothing much more to be overtly concerned about out there. Btw, if you do get physically attacked by a dog, report it to the visitor's centre in Omalo, there are some people there trying to strike a fine balance between tourism and the local's traditional livelihood.
2.) Cant speak for all of the trails, but really most of the less popular ones aren't marked at all, aside from maybe some random cairns, you will have to rely on maps, compasses.
and a good sense of direction. Good maps and advice are available at the Omalo visitor's centre. Even main trail sometimes just a directional arrow every few kilometers, but these shuld be obvious anyhow.
3.) I haven't been over the range at Shatili, so the Omalo visitor's centre/other travellers can answer that questin better, The trails between the villages lowdown should be doable, some of the, are actually graded dirt roads. Personally I'd be hesitant to push a mountain bike over the high passes, but it might well be possible.
4.) The small settlements are very small indeed. Some of them that cater to tourists can almost always rustle up a meal and give you bed to sleep in for US$15-20 a night (at certain times of the year, eg, june to august), and you can buy local cheese, etc from them, but even in Omalo in June 2012 the local store has almost nothing at all. So bring whatever you can.
Dec 3, 2012 12:28 AM
Dec 3, 2012 5:33 PM
4@nopasaran, I'm not sure yet, probably some time in August.
1. Okay thanks for the advice. I can handle dogs.
2. Okay, so it's pretty much totally offroad. Sounds interesting, I may give a smaller route a shot if I have time. But MTB's work much better if there is at least some kind of beaten ground to go over.
3.You'd be surprised where you can get an MTB. I've been over a 3000m glacial pass before. Though I wouldn't do that particular pass again.
4. That's not good. We'll be cycling from Tbilisi to Omalo and Shatili so we need to be able to buy food along the way, or find houses that will take us in. But thanks for the warning. I'll be sure to pack extra food. Do you think people along the way would be willing to sell us supplies like bread ect if we asked?
@WILLEMSPIE Why not? I'm not planning to cycle the whole way. You can carry your MTB on your shoulders like this or this, which makes going up the steep a lot easier. However as I said in my original post, if I need to use ropes I can't do it as I've got the bike to carry too.
Edited by: calloutman
Dec 4, 2012 1:54 AM
Dec 4, 2012 8:33 AM
6@Ig0r: Yes I'm aware of that, I've done it before with all my kit and it's not too bad, the bike weighs around 13kg and rests quite nicely on your backpack. It is tough work but not too much harder than lugging up a large pack on your back.
Are you saying the food supply needs to be for about 3 or 4 days? Or that we'd have to carry the bike for 3 - 4 days?
Dec 6, 2012 12:06 AM
7Calloutman, dont take the issue of dogs so lightly, really, they are vicious as hell, for example, I came over a small hill and surprised three large ones at very short range, they launched at me towards the throat and only avoided getting mauled by throwing myself down the hill. Just be aware i guess, it all depends on if the shepherd being around to call them off.
Yeah, some people may be able to sell supplies, but in my opinion, dont count on it especially in the small settlements, chances are they may have just enough for themselves. But on the other hand, theres enough people there you may able to find something if you keep asking.
Cant speak for the glacial pass between Shatilli/Omalo, but really the rest of it should be doable, although you'll have to prepared for carrying the bike across streams, steep sections, etc.
Dec 6, 2012 9:24 AM
Dec 7, 2012 8:25 AM
9The owners of the guesthouses and jeep drivers usually speak some english, sometimes proficient enough, other times very limited. Of course, the local shepherds, etc, speak nothing at all, maybe the older ones know some Russian. A few words will go a long way. This is a general rule for all of Georgia, btw.
Dec 8, 2012 1:30 AM
Okay I just saw this link:
What's the current situation with mines? If I stick my tent 50 meters off the trail am I endangering myself? If I get disorientated in some fog and wander off the trail am I going to get my leg blown off?
Dec 9, 2012 12:18 PM
11I never heard anything about mines while I was there, so someone else will have answer that, or best bet, contact the Tusheti visitors centre.
Dec 10, 2012 12:28 PM
Jan 26, 2013 8:15 AM
13I hiked from Omalo to Shatili about a decade ago and it was quite nice and superscenic. The dogs were indeed an issue. One night we camped (too) close to a shepherds' shelter and one of those annoying dogs was attacking our tent for most of the night. Such a nightmare... I personally would prefer not to carry a MTB plus food and camping gear across those passes. Nothing heard or seen of landmines. Just saw loads of snakes, in some parts of the hike you could see them almost every 50 metres...
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