31 May 2005

Khevsurs- Chewsuren

I am impressed that quite some searches from far abroad asking the Khevsurs. Here is a photo from a small Atengenoba ceremony near Shatili in July 2004. The men are praying. The Khevisberi ('Oldest' of the Valley) with the cross on his breast leads the ceremony. Soon he will sacrifice the sheeps cutting the throats, and spilling the blood around the small christian church-temple, outside the right border of this image. The men will take the sheeps home later, where will be prepared various dishes.

Here are some more photos of Khevsurs and Khevsureti and the Atengenoba feast.

30 May 2005

Plov, Shashlyk and Burgers in Uzbekistan

My opinion on Uzbek dishes

A Molotij Shashlyk near Shakhizabrz

Thanks to Nathan for his interesting post on the best Plovmaker from Tashkent, I want to add my own experiences on the field of Uzbek/Tajik kittchen. I definitly missed the plov by Nurshod Asymov's, but I am sure it tastes great. Sure, Plovmaker are very proud on their own talents and it truly needs a lot of talent, wisdom, experience and feeling to make a good plov. Dont think you can do it immediatly good after reading some recipes. The main problem for making a good plov is to get the rice, wich is best from Khorezm, and the oil, what is best if it is from cotton, but sunflower oil might replace. Of course you can hardly get any beef the sort it is in Central Asia or the Caucasus in America or Europe either. Every region in Uzbekistan has its own plov, with quite some differences from other regions. Famous of course is the plov from Tashkent, from Samarkand and from Bukhara. My best plov (what of course is a question of luck and taste) I eat in Fergana, on the main road 2 kilometers before crossing the border into the town on the right hand sight. There I also eat the best salad in my life, compared with dozens of salads I eat in all over Europe and the Caucasus. The second best plov I got in Bukhara, the third best in Samarkand, and in Tashkent, I've been probably at the wrong places. But two things where great in Tashkent: Horse meat and Horse sausages and I eat there often, you wouldn't expect, the best Burgers of my life at Mir, a known warehouse and pizzeria in the centre of Tashkent. Its called simple the "Mir Burger", wich you can get also as a Double. I recommend to order 2-3 pieces.
For Shashlyk I always prefered the so called 'Molotij' 'hacked', like in other countries you call Kebab, or Kabab, but in Uzbekistan its different with lots of onion and was the best until very recently, when I was surprized to eat the now best Kebab I ever eat in the small South Armenian town Vayk (also I eat one of the best trouts there). So the best smashed, or hacked Shashlyk- the Molotij- in Uzbekistan, I think you eat at the Bazaar in Urgut, some 40 km South of Samarkand near the Tajik Border, if you can ignore the dirt on this Bazaar and its kittchen, I always had to flee my wife and eat it secretly ;-)
My former boss in Tashkent (a German) always said that the Uzbek kittchen was one of his main reasons to stay further in Uzbekistan.

The famous "Mir Burger"

Climbing Mount Kasbek July 2005

Summit Mount Kazbek 5033
A special offer to Climbers by Kaukasus-Reisen


23.07. - 30.07.2005, other dates available through August and September 2005

1.Day Transfer to accomodation (f.e. from the airport), Sightseeing in

2.Day Transfer via the Georgian Military Road and the Cross Pass 2395 m to villageKazbegi.

3.Day Tour from Kazbegi (1750 m above sea level) to Meteo-Station at apprx. 3700 m.

4.Day Acclimatization around Meteostation

5.Day Summit of Mount Kazbek 5033m, return to Meteostation

6.Day Return to Kazbegi village

7.Day Return to Tbilisi

Included Transfers, Accomodations, Englishspeaking Guide for Mount Kazbek, Halfboard in Tbilisi, Fullboard on the trip.

Price: 749,- USD

Contact Kaukasus-Reisen for further details

Mount Kazbek 5033m

A trip to Ingushetia by Martin Kaul

Martin Kaul in "Die Zeit" on Ingushetia (In German)

This report from Ingushetia is good written and haunting, allthough the headline "Why the Russians will loose the Caucasus" is not really answered and filled with some vague speculations.
I liked the sharp observations on the state of agony of officials and simple citizens of the Northern Caucasus and the ability of the author to balance facts with concernment. The Caucasus, Ingushetia, the kindness of its people and the harshness and absurdity of its daily life seems to make the stranger very fast involved and even sympathizing. I personally hope Martin Kaul will soon come back here again and write more. Those unsolved problems can not get enough publicity. A small mistake: Ingushetia is to the west of Chechnya.

29 May 2005

Cossacks again in the Caucasus ?

Whats the sense
of giving paramilitarian units like the Cossacks, a restoration in the Caucasus in the 21. century ?
Slaughter, hacking, smashing and killing again to the Mountain tribes ? I have to read my favourite Alexandre Dumas again. Here a painting of a cossack from 2001, its title is "Father"

Another brain teaser Caucasus

What is the name of this Georgian River ?

The other photos help you.

27 May 2005

Newsletter "An die Freunde des Kaukasus"

Newsletter Kaukasus-Reisen März und April 2005

Der Newsletter "An die Freunde des Kaukasus" erscheint etwa alle sechs Wochen. Neben Neuigkeiten praktischer Art, wie Visa, Flüge und politischen Highlights gibt es Links zu Neuscheinungen auf dem Buchmarkt, zum Internet und zur Kunst, alles konzentriert auf den Kaukasus. Leider sind Aserbaidschan und Armenien bislang noch nicht so gut repräsentiert, ebenso wenig der hoch interessante Nordkaukasus. Den Newsletter kann man hier bestellen:
die Ausgaben vom März und April 2005 können Sie hier lesen:

Tino in Schiraki 2005

25 May 2005

Chechnya Weekly Jamestown Foundation

To keep up with the newest developments in Chechnya I regulary get the Newsletter Chechnya Weekly by the Jamestown Foundation. News often have profound analyses, viewpoints are balanced and seem to be quite objective. It covers not only Chechnya, but the whole region Caucasus, Middle East and Central Asia. Very useful is also the Eurasia Daily Monitor

Aufklärer-Scouts, Hans Heiner Buhr 2001

The Red Book of the Peoples of the Russian Empire

A great book and website

I found this interesting website about a book by Ants Viires, saving information about the smallest nations of the former Sovietunion, including some Nations from the Caucasus Region like the Abazians, the Akhvakhs, the Georgian Jews, the Nogays and others. The best source I found about those small but great nations.

22 May 2005

Photographer Gia Chkhatarashvili

A Georgian Artist won the Fiftycrows-Prize 2004

I am very proud on our friend Gia, that he won together with three other Photographers the prize on "Social Change Photography" out of about 2000 professional participants from all over the world. His serie has the title "Ushguli- a Village at a crossroad" and portraits the life in the Svanetian village Ushguli, 2300 m above sealevel. See the complete serie here at Fiftycrows

Gilotsavd Gia !

Horses of the Wind in Rustavi

I really like this sculpture bei the Jikia-Brothers and its powerful contrast with the concrete buildings of the town and its wide and open steppe- landscape surrounding. A perfect art piece at a perfect place, where I spent three great years of my life.
One of the very few great sculptures in Georgia.

A nice little painting of Hotel Adshara

This painting by Murtazi Shvelidze,

I bought yesterday after a nice party in his Studio. We met with two Gallerists from Cologne, Christoph and Tomaslav, and with Thea Tsiklauri from Munich. The "Dshigari" a spicy ragout from heart, liver, lung and kidney was wonderful. The wine, a simple Kakhetian, too.
The painting is from 1993, this was the hard time of unrest in Tbilisi, and is 55x32 cm. I like it very much.

More paintings of Murtazi Shvelidze you can find at Kaukasus-Kaleidoscope

Deutsche Agenten operieren im Kaukasus ?

Zitat Die Welt: "Deutsche Agenten operieren im Kaukasus, um den islamistischen Kämpfern ihre Rückzugsräume in den Nachbarländern Tschetscheniens abzuschneiden."

Ha, Ha, wie machen das denn unsere deutschen Superjungs ? Schütteln sie ihre Drinks in Moskau ? Ich hoffe, sie haben ein wenig Nachisch, Awarisch, Lesgisch, Lakisch, Darginisch, Nogaiisch, Tscherkessisch, Kabardinisch, Balkarisch, Kalmückisch, Karatschaiisch, Abasinisch, Ossetisch und die Sprachen Dagestans gelernt. Grundkenntnisse des Russischen, Armenischen, Türkischen, Georgischen, Aserbaidschanischen und der Kryptoanalyse werden natürlich vorausgesetzt.

Hat mich echt erheitert dieser Schmarrn. Das deutsche Agenten im Kaukasus leider wieder hoffähig werden, hat man als Künstler wohl im Gefühl. Hier mein Bild "Operation" aus dem Jahr 2003:

George Soros to visit Georgia end of May

Shortly after the visit of George W. Bush, the founder of the Open Society Institute and the Soros Foundations Network George Soros will come to Georgia for three days in the end of May. The most influential man on Democracy in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. One of his efforts is the outstanding website http://www.eurasianet.org/index.shtml
I really hope he is enjoying the atmosphere here in Georgia and uses his time for critical analyses of the developments since Autumn 2003.

21 May 2005

Two great Mountain Journeys to Georgia this summer

Khevsureti and Tusheti in the Caucasus in July and August

Some of the best trips in the Georgian Greater Caucasus Range are our journeys to Khevsureti and Tusheti: Rough landscapes, sharp gorges, ancient Christian culture, fortresses, herders, horses, clear spring water, trouts, flowers, hospitality, adventure

Khevsureti: 16.07. bis 29.07.2005 from/to Tbilisi 1250.00 Euro Details

Near Roschka in Khevsureti

13.08. bis 26.08.2005 from/to Tbilisi 1250.00 Euro Details

In Tusheti

Contact me for further details at info@kaukasus-reisen.de

19 May 2005

Heli flights over the Caucasus

Some money left ? Need exitement ? Take a flight !

In cooperation with our Tushetian friends Sauri, Dato and Schamil we are now able to offer Helicopter flights over the Caucasus Mountains. Imagine to fly in a Mi-8 over Svaneti, Khevsureti or Tusheti. Have stops in ancient villages, take a drink with local georgian herders, make photographs from high above. Just need good weather. Contact Kaukasus-Reisen for details.

14 May 2005

Brandenburg and Armenia

The German Bundesland Brandenburg and Armenia have a lot in common:

But ok, Brandenburg has no Lake Sevan and no view to the Ararat. Therefore in Armenia I didn't see any Skinheads.

Images from Wikipedia.de

Chor Wirap with the Ararat in the background

And here another nice board for a Restaurant in Southern Armenia near Vayk.

Brain Teaser: Armenia, Lake Sevan, Beer and Lobster

You went pretty close:
The board stands at the Road from Sevan to Noratus a couple of meters beside the the bank of Lake Sevan. Pivo is Russian for Beer. The Lobster speaks for himself. But the Wolf ? Maybe it means, if you are hungry and thursty like a wolf, you get here Lobster and Beer without limits ? As I cant read Armenian, I do not know for sure the Armenian Word at the bottom, I guess its 'Restaurant'.

12 May 2005

Visa for Armenia at the Georgian Border Sadakhlo

The road taxes exceeding the costs for Visa

A visa for Armenia up to 21 days can be bought for USD 30 also directly at the Georgian-Armenian Border at Sadakhlo. For the car (Minibus 8 seats) I paid a road tax of 80 USD to the Armenian officials at the entrance to Armenia and about 22 USD at the exit of Armenia, also to the Armenian officials. (The car is registred in Georgia.)
So be patient to keep some money in your pocket when leaving Armenia.

A brain teaser for Caucasus freaks

Where is this photo taken ?
What does the image mean ?

07 May 2005

Khevsurs in Dshuta near the Chaukhi-Massiv Posted by Hello

Caucasus Map

A fine historic map of the Caucasus at Wikipedia

I found this beautiful map from 1892 at Wikipedia today, it is in the Public Domain.
I added for better visualization some of the main cities of the region.

A bigger resolution of this map is here
and the original map at Wikipedia here

06 May 2005

Leoparden und Tiger im Kaukasus

Panthera tigris virgata,Panthera pardus ciscaucasica, Panthera pardus saxicolor ?

Vor nicht langer Zeit lebte in der Kaukasusregion auch der Kaspische Tiger (Panthera Tigris Virgata), der möglicherweise leider wirklich ausgestorben sein könnte. Die letzten Exemplare wurden vor nicht langer Zeit gesichtet, in den 50er und nach anderen Quellen sogar bis in die 70er Jahre.
Einige Tierschützer suchen verzweifelt nach den geringsten Lebenszeichen des ausgestorbenen Kaspischen Tigers. Nur abgeschiedenste Regionender Türkei, Turkmenistans und Afghanistans machen noch ein Fünkchen Hoffnung auf bisher nicht entdeckte Restbestände. So soll ein Projekt 2005 gestartet werden, das untersucht, ob möglicherweise noch Bestände des Kaspischen Tigers in der Osttürkei überlebt haben. Siehe den Artikel bei Wikipedia: Caspian Tiger rediscovered in Turkey?
Eine exzellente Zusammenfassung zum Kaspischen Tiger gibt es auch unter:

Ein schönes Beispiel für die Wiederauferstehung einer als
ausgestorben geglaubten Tierart ist dagegen der Leopard in Georgien, Armenien
und Aserbaidschan. Persischer Leopard oder Kaukasischer Leopard hin oder her, es gibt sie wieder, die derzeit größte Raubkatze des Kaukasus.
In den 60er Jahren galt er im Rotbuch der damaligen UDSSR als ausgestorben. Anfang der 90er wurde er vereinzelt von Jägern gesichtet und 2004 im Südosten Georgiens zum erstenmal
fotografiert. Aus Armenien gibt es vom März 2005 ein Foto von einem
vermutlich trächtigen Weibchen. In Armenien und Aserbaidschan schätzt
man den Bestand auf 25 bis 30 Exemplare. Schutzgebiete wurden
speziell für den Leoparden ausgewiesen und Rangereinheiten
ausgebildet. Außerordentliche Bedeutung hat auch der Schutz der
Beutetiere des Leoparden: Bezoarziege, Gemse, Wildschwein, Steinbock.
Die Fachleute sind sich noch nicht einig, ob es sich um
zurückgewanderte Examplare des Persischen Leoparden handelt oder um
die Unterart Panthera pardus ciscaucasisa (bzw. ob die letztere
überhaupt jemals existiert hat, oder eher das Hirngespinst
sowjetischer Biologen war).Beim WWF gibt es ein Projektblatt:
Hier das trächtige Weibchen:
und hier eine Webseite:

Das Projekt zur Rettung der Leoparden im Kaukasus benötigt dringend auch kleine Spenden- schon mit 10 oder 15 Euro kann viel bewirkt werden. Wer diesen Großkatzen helfen möchte, der kann dies über diesen Link beim WWF Deutschland tun:

05 May 2005

Lagodekhi and a nice horse

Lagodekhi is at the outmost South-East of Georgia, 5 km close to the Aserbajanian Border, and a part of the Georgian Region Kakheti. I am quite often there because of relatives living in Ninigori, a village close to Lagodekhi. 200 years ago Kakheti had because of several Persian invations almost no inhabitants anymore. So most people in this region are settled from other Georgian parts. Next to true Kakhetians, like Georgians from Telavi or Gurdjani,there are Georgians from Imereti, Georgians from Javakheti, Russians, Ossetians, Lezgians, Azeri. There lived Jews here too, but they emigrated mainly to Israel. In the village of Alvani living Tushs from Tusheti. On the Northern slopes of Kakheti in the very beautiful Pankisi Valley living the Kists, wich are very close relatives to the Chechens. All people live quite peaceful together and respecting each other.

This Image is taken near the Ninoskhevi creek, the mountains in the background belong to the Lagodekhi National Park.

At the Village Kabali, where are living mainly Azeris, I met a local with a horse, wich had a truly shape of a good runner.

Electronic Visa for Armenia

An easy way to get your Visa for Armenia- the eVisa

I do not know for how long this possebility exists, but it seems to make the application process for a Visa to Armenia much easier. You don't need to visit an Embassy and get no visapaper inserted into your passport. The eVisa gets electronical submitted to the Border Control Agents at Zvartnots International Airport. The eVisa is only possible for arrivals at this airport and costs the equivalent of 60 USD. For transfering the costs for the eVisa you'll need a valid credit card. More information on this issue availble at http://armeniaforeignministry.com/eVisa/index.htm

For Georgia you get the visa directly at the Airport Tbilisi for approx. 10 USD for 30 days. It is announced to remove the visa regime for some states in the nearer future at all.