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Connecting the Caucasus | Georgia
By Nyani Quarmyne
Published April 2023
Tusheti, draped across the Caucasus Mountains in Georgia, is all but cut off for most of the year—the only road in, through the treacherous Abano Pass, is impassable in winter. An occasional Border Police helicopter becomes the only link with the outside world. The region is the ancestral home of the Tush, traditionally nomadic shepherds. Today, due largely to Soviet-era resettlement policies, most live in the lowlands; few brave winter in the mountains.
But when the Abano Pass opens in spring, Tush flood into the highlands, shepherds among them making a ten-day trek with their flocks. There is a sense that for most Tush, the mountains are their real home. Tourism has become the economic mainstay: seasonal guesthouses cater to summer hikers. But they are constrained by the very remoteness that is their main attraction.
Aiming to boost tourism by getting businesses online, a group of volunteers set out to bring the Internet to the mountains. They hope that increased economic opportunity will slow the drift of young people to cities, and make it possible for the Tush to once again live year-round in the mountains.
Nyani Quarmyne is a freelance photographer focused on global health, the environment, and our shared humanity, published in the New York Times, El País, and others. His commissioned work ranges from documenting famine in the Sahel, to grassroots connectivity efforts in Kyrgyzstan, to CSR projects for global brands. Personal work includes the global snakebite crisis, climate change, and exploring the lives of a cloister of nuns in the Caucasus mountains.