Heading North towards Svanetia: The only major road into the poorest and thinnest populated region leads from Zugdidi in the northwest to Mestia. Along the way a massive, about 180 meter tall dam; high-pressured water shooting out. Dense mountain forests, narrow gorges, deep down below the raging Enguri river, endless curves, lots of falling rock. On one occasion, a digger has to clear the road before we can move on. Ubiquitous cows resting on the road, bridges being their preferred spots. Lots of dung... After 130 km, I finally reach Mestia; the centre of the region. High peels are characteristic here, dating from the middle ages, protected as a UNESCO heritage site, and resembling the fortified towers of San Gimignano. Unfortunately, a lot of new buildings in Mestia without much sensitivity towards older architectural styles. Therefore straight on to Ushguli, about 45 km away, on a road that is only suitable for 4x4s. This is a seriously challenging track over a mountain pass: deep troughs, axle-deep trenches, and pools of mud. Few villages along the way, all with peels. Remote and rugged beauty in this valley in the High Caucasus. The sky is a scorching blue, slopes in emerald green up to the icefields. Meadows full of blooming flowers and plenty of giant hogweed. This is how the Alps might have looked a hundred years ago. Ushguli (2200 m) is dominated by about 20 peels (up to 22 m high, built from the local shist with small crenels high above, inside with mostly 4-5 floors, interconnected by wooden staircases). Above the village at the end of the valley are the towering snow and ice walls of the Skhara massif (5058 m) with the namesake glacier, the Langhitau (5058 m) and Ailama (4546 m).