16th August 2018
There's nothing quite like waking up to blue skies way up in the Caucasus mountains, 2500m above sea level, clear panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, smelling the fresh mountain air.
Today we rode to a village outside Omalo, a 6 hour road trip. After meeting the two local horsemen with our horses, stirrup adjustments made on our quirky Russian saddle's, we are off through the meadows and down the valley to the river before following it along and heading up to the closest local village.
We stop for our delicious picnic lunch, our horses munch on the grass whilst we stretch legs and snooze after our yummy picnic lunch.
Then back on our steeds, heading back the same up the mountain through the forest, for a final canter across the pasture, finishing off the day with delicious home cooked food of salads, coleslaw, soups and meats, and of course, some local Georgian wine.
Our guesthouses are spread around the village, and a few stay in the watchtower while the rest sleep in cute slate built homes. Most are lit by solar lights. The toilet, situated outside in most of the guesthouses, is never a chore when at 2 am in the morning the look up and see the clearest unpolluted sky, filled with the Milky Way.
On the third day of riding, we descended the mountain on foot, enabling our horses to pick their own way down the slopes, although mostly they would snatch their heads away to chomp at the clumps of grass and nettles that lined the paths. But to be honest we were doing some foraging of our own, as fresh blueberries lined the path most of the way down - by the time we got to the bottom, a lot of us had stained lips and fingers!
After at the bottom we sat and ate our picnic lunch, pretty much devouring it all. We decided we should keep lunch pretty short as we could see dark clouds rolling in. This turned out to be a wise decision because the thunderstorm started about 30 minutes into our 2.5 hour ride home, just after crossing the river further down and heading off to Dartlo.
I love thunderstorms and found it atmospheric to be riding through the eerie mountains with watch towers looming through the swirling clouds. Although the novelty started to wear a bit thin as we all got increasingly soaked though as the rain kept pouring down.
When we finally reached the guesthouse we were all in need of a hot shower... and of course some local chacha to warm up our bones!