Day 23-24, Mestia – Abkhazia, Lake Ritsa

Day 23, July 30th, Thu, Mestia-Abkhazia

Mestia-AbkhaziaThis day I was going to the second breakaway Caucasus Republicx after Nagorno-Karabakh: Abkhazia. Abkhazia is a bit more famous than Artsakh, but only because of war. And its history is quite similar: After the downfall of Soviet Union Abkhazian people and Ossetian people wanted their independence from Georgia, who didn’t want to accept. So from 1992 to 1993 there was a war and most Georgians were expulsed from Abkhazia and in 1994 it declared its independence. In August 2008 war between South Ossetia and Georgia broke out again, Abkhazia played a strategic role and was recognized by Russia after the war. That led to an increasing tourism industry and the currency became Ruble.
I was told that Georgian citizens are not allowed to enter Abkhazia. Though people who I met were angry or sad and often envious that I could go. Because the mountains are near Black Sea and therefore it’s really a nice destination for people who like to stay in hotels or travellers like me.

First I had to go to Zugdidi, where some Germans that I met on the camping ground were going. From there I walked more or less to the border.
You have to show your passport at a Georgian checkpoint although Akhazia is officially still part of Georgia. To enter Abkhazia you need to have a visa that you can apply for online at the MFA and you’ll receive an entrance permit. It took 9 days until I received it.
After the checking of your passport you have to go on foot (or you can take a horse-drawn carriage, but it’s slower) through a demilitarized zone and over a brige over Inguri to Abkhazia. There your passport and the entrance permit is checked and you’re in.
But hitchhiking wasn’t easy although on hitchwiki was written that it was super easy. In fact I made the worst experience. On the one hand I always had to wait a long time and if cars stopped they wanted money and were rude, when it was mentioned that hitchhiking is not about money.
Especially the south of Abkhazia is not sparsely populated and buildings are in a kind of bad state; you can see many destroyed houses at the roadside. I pitched my tent at a river where a drunk ex-police officer who was drunk drove me to. He lurched all the time on the opposite lane but traffic policemen just greeted him friendly when he passed…

Day 24, July 31st, Fri, Lake Ritsa

That day I went to Lake Ritsa that is not only popular for its nice location but also for Stalin’s dacha (Russian summer house).
But before I had to go to Sukhumi, the capital of the Republic of Abkhazia. There I had to change my entrance permission to the visa. Initially I applied for a one month visa, but I could get a 10-day visa, too which was cheaper. This visa is not stuck into the passport.
From Sukhumi a crazy driver from Dagestan (Russian region, Muslim characterized); his driving style was insane like of most Akhazians. He drove fast, at least 100km/h no matter if inside town or not. Then in front of us, a car was overtaken. But the overtaker drove to slow for my driver so he overtook the car that was overtaking the other car. In the end three car were driving next to each other on this two lane road and of course on the opposite lane cars were approaching as well – it was crazy.
On the way to lake Ritsa I then had my worst hitchhiking experience when a typical fat-muscular driver wanted a blow-job in return for a ride. Fortunately some time later a nice Russian family from 4200km far Surgut near Khanty-Mansiysk took me with them. We visited the summer residence of Stalin together and in the evening we went to Pitsunda for dinner and pitching our tents at the beach.

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