Adventures with the Höpli family

At 17:15 the airplane landed and shortly before 6 o'clock we finally said hello to each other. It felt good, seeing friends from back home. We drove to the hostel, got rid of all the luggage and then went to Mikels flat, where Johannes prepared a surprise party for Theres birthday. We had an unforgettable evening together with lot of good food.

Leckeres Essen und geselliges Beisammensein
Good food together with our friends

The next day we slept in and discussed about the following days, as the weather forecast for the mountains was not the best. So we spontaneously decided to drive to the east of the country and the first day we visited the monastery of David Gereja, next to the Aserbajdschanian border.

Innenhof des Klosters
Patio of the monastery
Freskenmalereien in Felsräumen
Paintings in the caves

Close to the boarder we camped and we really enjoyed it, as we haven’t been sleeping in our sleeping bags for quite a while. In the morning we got woken up by a passing flock of sheep.

Kochen des Abendessens umgeben von weitläufigen Grashügeln
Cooking dinner surrounded by grassy hills
Eine der vielen Schafherden, die den Winter in der Region verbringen
One of the many flock of sheep, which spends the winter in the region

After the breakfast we drove to Dedopliszqaro, where we got registered in the office of the nationalpark and then decided to visit the mud volcanoes. After 2 hours of driving on bad road, we arrived at the volcanoes.

Auf dem Weg zu den Vulkanen, Dani konnte sich noch vor dem Schlamm retten
On the way to the mud volcanoes, Dani can save himself of the mud

There were many small ones, they were cold, bubbles came out and on a few of them, there was a thick layer of oil. Two volcanoes were pretty big with a diameter of around 3 metres. The surrounding nature was amazing and we got the chance to observe smaller and bigger birds, a tortoise and a few lizards.

Einer der grossen Vulkane, komplett mit Erdöl bedeckt
One of the big volcanoes, totally covered with oil
Unser Übernachtungsplatz
Our sleepingplace
Die Schildkröte, welche direkt beim mit Erdöl verschmierten Abfluss lebte
The tortoise, which lives next to a oily stream
Eine ca. 30 cm lange Echse
An around 30 cm long lizard

That night we slept again in our tents and the following morning we spent exploring the landscape and then drove back to Tbilisi. It looked like there would be some sunny days in the mountains, so we drove the following day in around 8 hours to Mestia.

Churchelas, georgische Zwischenverpflegung und für Stärkung auf Skitouren
Churchelas, Georgian snacks for skitouring

The dinner we had in the well known restaurant Laila. The next morning we started after the breakfast to Ushguli, on a for us unknown road. After having passed the ski resort of Tetnuldi, the road became narrow, sometimes covered with snow or mud. Thanks to our good driver Johannes, everything went well. Dani was a good co-driver and helped a lot with showing the right way or putting stones on the road.

Kontrolle des Autos durch Johannes
Johannes is checking the car, while Rita is enjoying the sun
Unterlegen von Steinen, um ohne Verlust auf die Eisdecke fahren zu können
Improving the road with stones, to drive without damage on the icelayer
Damit wird Schnee geräumt und die Strasse planiert
With this machine the snow gets shipped away and the road leveled out

In Ushguli we were welcomed heartily by a family, which we got recommended in Mestia. The family consisted of the parents and 6 children, of which the oldest spoke very well English. Shortly after our arrival, we got fresh homemade cheese, bread and butter. And of course, the chacha was not allowed to be missing. The dinner was delicious and we got different traditional food. The breakfast the next morning was similar, fried potatoes, bread, cheese, cake...

Reichhaltiges Frühstück
Rich breakfast

Well fed we started to our first skitour. The snow was ok, there was even a track for walking uphill, as the region is very famous for daily tourists. The next day we spent again in the village, as it was snowing again. The oldest daughter showed us the family tower next to the house. In the evening, we packed everything for the next few days in the base camp.

Blick aus dem familieneigenen Wehrturm auf einen Nachbarturm
View out of the window of the tower from our family
Der Wehrturm dient heute noch unter anderem als Vorratskammer
The tower still gets used as a pantry
Warten auf Touristen...
Waiting for the tourists…

After a rich breakfast we started our walk under the shining sun to the Basecamp of Schchara. After around 3 hours we arrived tired (the backpacks were heavy and the sun was burning).

Aufstieg ins Basecamp
Ascent to the basecamp

We found a good sleeping place, put our tents up and started to a small tour, where we made an avalanche profile. It showed us, that it was not that save and we should not go over 30 degrees.

Beim Erkennen der verschiedenen Schneeschichten
Defining the different layers of the snow profile

In the evening we cooked good food on our cooker and then went to our tents, where warm sleeping bags were waiting for us.

Dick eingepackt in die Schlafsäcke
Well packed in our sleeping bags

Unfortunately the weather was not the best the following days, but nevertheless we went skitouring and made another snow profile. On the third day, we were touring on a back of a hill, suddenly we heard a wumm and at the same time an avalanche on the right and on the left side started. Impressed we followed the left one with our eyes. The incipient crack was longer than 500 m and the avalanche went down to the bottom of the valley. After that we didn't feel anymore to go to the peak.

Rechts im Bild der Rücken, auf welchem wir unterwegs waren
Our mountain, on which we walked up a few times, in the middle the incipient crack of the avalanche
Der Anriss der Lawine zu unserer Linken
The incipient crack to our left side

The following day we finished our ascent and arrived on the top. On the second last day we were again lucky with the weather and enjoyed the terrific surrounding. Unfortunately the risk of avalanches was still too high for the nicest slopes, but nevertheless we found some nice ones and left some beautiful traces.

Aufstieg am zweitletzten Tag
Ascent on the second last day
Rita in rassiger Fahrt
Rita on her classy riding
Auch Johannes genoss den Tiefschnee
Johannes enjoyed the powder as well
Am Liebsten surft und hüpft Theres im Schnee
Theres loves surfing and hopping in the snow
Die schönsten Linien zog Dani
The most beautiful lines were from Dani

After 5 nights we run out of food and benzine, so we went back to Ushguli. On the last morning we got woken up at 7 am, 3 young men from Ushguli started early in the morning to the mineral water spring, for drinking water and chacha, as well as having breakfast and singing loudly. We don't know, how they got back, they did not have any skins for their skis...

Unser Wecker am letzen Morgen
Our alarm clock on the last morning
Schnee schmelzen mussten wir auch keinen, floss ein sehr mineralhaltiger Fluss in unserer Nähe vorbei
We never had to melt snow for cooking, as a mineral water stream passed closed to our camp

On the way back we had again nice and warm weather.

Bei schönstem Wetter wurde das Basecamp abgebaut
Tearing down our basecamp
Es war wirklich heiss; Dani bei einer Abkühlung
It was really hot; Dani is enjoying the refreshment

We had a good time in the basecamp and experienced camping in cold temperature. We noticed as well that the sun helps a lot for the motivation; despite of strong wind and some snow showers, we nearly stayed there for one week. And it was good fun.

Abends nach dem Skitouren beim Versuch, die Socken und Skischuhe zu trocknen
In the evening after touring, trying to dry our socks and shoes
Am Morgen beim Frühstücken
In the morning having breakfast

Arriving in Ushguli, our men first had to drink some chacha with the boss of the house (at least 3 has to be drunk) and just after that got the chance for a refreshing, hot shower. The food for dinner was again delicious and as it has not been enough, more chacha, till the bottle was empty. We all were sleeping very well that night...
After a rich breakfast and saying goodbye we drove back to Mestia. The road was now in better condition and as it was still early that day, all the stones above the road were still frozen. In Mestia we stopped for a short coffee and then drove further to Zugdidi, where we bought fresh food on the market. The night we spent in our tents at the coast of the black sea, in the nationalpark of Kolkheti. In one day more than 2000 m of altitude.

Am Strand des Schwarzen Meeres
On the beach of the Black Sea

The next morning we saw around 50 fishermen, although fishing is not allowed in the park. From the information centre we got the chance to observe some big birds. We went back to our car and drove towards Kutaisi. Shortly before the town, we turned left and went to the Prometheus Cave, a huge flowstone cave, which has different sections divided in colourful lightened halls.

Vor dem Eingang der Prometheus Cave, Rita und Johannes
In front of the entrance of Prometheus Cave, Rita and Johannes
In der Höhle
Inside the cave

Pretty impressed we went to search a sleeping place for the night and found one next to a road, where only one car an hour passed. In the evening some sheep passed and we made a huge campfire.

Aperitif am Feuer
Appetizer next to the fire

Unfortunately, the next morning it was raining a little bit, but we still stopped in Kutaisi for walking over the big market. The next stop was Borjomi, where we knew there is a hot spring. As we were on the place, we were astonished. Despite the rainy weather, there were many tourists on the place, some of them even in the water. We first ate something and were already freezing. Finally we went into the water, which was around 30 degrees warm.

Wieder warm angezogen nach dem Baden
Again dressed in our warm clothes

Getting out of the water, cost some effort, as the air temperature was less then 10 degrees. Because of trash laying around everywhere and the rainy and cold weather, we decided all together to spend one night in a hotel.
As we got up the following day, snow was laying on the roofs. We left Borjomi through rain and snow showers. The next stop was a bit out of Gori, in Uplistsikhe, an old town in caves.


After a walk through it, we drove to Tbilisi, where we stayed in the same hostel. In the evening we cooked Spätzli with a lot of salad and as dessert crêpes with chocolate. Well fed we went sleeping and the next day we went exploring the capital, from the botanical garden to the big markets.

Sulfurbäder in Tbilisi
The sulfur baths in Tbilisi

In the evening we went to a good, Georgian restaurant and the next morning, we packed all our things. Rita and Dani went again to the city centre and in the afternoon, we drove all together to the airport.

We had a really good time with you and finally we got the chance to use our camping equipment. We wish you all the best for the next half year and afterwards, they will start as well a trip around the world with their bikes. And who knows, where we will meet next...

Schön wars mit euch...
We had a good time together…

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