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Photographer's Note

Ushguli - Georgia's final frontier

On my two previous pictures of Ushguli, the focus was on the mountain landscape.
Not surprisingly when you're at an altitude of 2.200 meters and have a view of a mountain range of over 5.000 meters.

Nevertheless, I would like to show two images that present the village Ushguli, or at least a part of it.
Ushguli comprises 4 settlements at walking distance from each other and they’re situated at 2.100 to 2.200 meters above sea level. This makes it the highest permanently inhabited village in Europe.

For those who didn’t see the previous pictures of Mestia: Everywhere in Svaneti, visitors will notice high defensive towers. Also in Ushguli. The purpose of these towers, built between the 9th and the 12th century, was the protection of the residents in case of war.

On the main picture you find the second settlement (arriving from Mestia).
The picture in the workshop shows a street in the first settlement. In both hamlets new houses are as well as absent.

In the fourth and last settlement (see my first picture of Ushguli) there’s a church and there are also two very simple eateries. There are no hotels. But in that part of Ushguli you find several people who rent rooms to visitors. I was very pleasantly surprised by the room we got. It was simply furnished but very neat. The shared bathroom was fully equipped.
The owners took care of breakfast and a warm meal (accompanied by delicious Georgian wine) in the evening. For the hike to the glacier they prepared us a lunchbox.
Communication was possible through the children or grandchildren of the villagers.

According to Wikipedia 70 families or about 200 people live in Ushguli, enough to support a small school.
In that school the children study English and again I was pleasantly surprised by the level of their English.

Another thing that happened a few times to us: We addressed ourselves to a local resident for some information. That person spoke Georgian and Russian and in Svaneti also Svan. We didn’t speak any of these languages but no problem. That person took his mobile phone, dialed a number, talked to someone, then handed us the phone and we heard a very young voice asking ‘Hello, how can we help you ?’.

Svaneti that has preserved its original medieval appearance and has retained most of its ancient traditions is for many visitors the final adventure of their journey in Georgia. However, this adventure is done very easily, safely and even with reasonable comfort.

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Additional Photos by Paul VDV (PaulVDV) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2186 W: 17 N: 4670] (20867)
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