Georgia is a country that attracts with its incredible beauty, scenic roads, and authentic villages located in the heart of the mountainous regions. It seems like it was made for those who love action-packed and exciting car journeys. However, we do not recommend travelling by rental cars on some roads and in some regions.
If you rent a car on Localrent, you can drive only on paved roads.
Driving on bumpy unpaved roads in the mountains is very dangerous for both unequipped cars and their passengers.
It is strictly forbidden to travel by rental car:
- On the routes: the “Akhaltsikhe - Batumi” route through the Goderdzi Pass, “Mestia - Ushguli - Lentekhi”, “Sairme - Abastumani”, “Akhmeta - Tianeti”
- In the regions: Truso, Juta, Vashlovani, Tusheti and Omalo, Shatili, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia.
Below we explain why rental companies do not allow to drive their cars in these regions and what to do if you really want to visit them.
Table of contents:
Rental companies can restrict where their cars can travel because:
For your safety, rental cars are equipped with GPS trackers. The rental company can block the car when it enters a forbidden area.
When picking up your rental car, please discuss your route with the rental agent. You will get information about the road conditions and some useful tips for the region you are going to visit.
If you still want to visit the places inaccessible to regular rental cars, please choose other transport options. There are companies that offer off-road tours in Georgia.
If there across any difficulties while travelling, the first thing to do is to calm down and assess the situation. If you can’t handle the situation yourself, seek help from locals, call your rental company or emergency services.
In Georgia, the emergency number is 112.
You can use this number when you need medical assistance, fire-fighting service or even helicopter evacuation.
The contact details of your rental company can be found on the rental voucher.
All these roads are unpaved and have no road infrastructure. Some sections pass through difficult ascents and descents, and such routed are not covered by the insurance.
The trip from Tbilisi to Batumi is one of the most popular routes in Georgia. But if you have never travelled on this route, please pay close attention to where your navigation is taking you. For example, the Google Maps application often suggests to take the “Akhaltsikhe - Batumi” road through the Goderdzi Pass. Please don’t do that. Because the “Akhaltsikhe - Batumi” route through the Goderdzi Pass is strictly forbidden for rental cars.
Do not rely on the information in the app. In fact, your journey will take 8-9 hours instead of the suggested 5 hours. The road surface is in very poor condition here, with many dangerous and hardly passable sections along the way, and if you need assistance, you will hardly find it. Not every local person with specialised equipment would risk travelling here.
This is what the road through the mountain pass looks like:
Due to the extremely difficult road conditions, the Goderdzi Pass is unsafe for regular cars.
Instead, please choose one of the routes through Kutaisi:
The next most popular trip is from Kutaisi to Mestia. You should be careful with this one as well because Google Maps may oofer you a route through the forbidden “Lentekhi - Ushguli - Mestia” section.
Ushguli, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is closed to all rental cars due to treacherous road conditions. The “Lentekhi - Ushguli - Mestia” section is known for its rugged terrain and is very dangerous. There is not insurance cover for this route, and any potential damage or accident is the responsibility of the rental company. In addition, Ushguli is a remote area hardly accessible to evacuation services or immediate assistance.
Condition of the pavement:
You can drive your rental from Kutaisi to Mestia through Jvari (on Google Maps).
The road from Sairme to Abastumani is very scenic and beautiful but you can’t drive your rental car on it.
It’s a narrow unpaved road in the mountains with tight turns where driving can be unpredictable and dangerous. Needless to say, it is not covered by insurance.
The road from Akhmeta to Tianeti is temporarily closed. The road is currently (late 2023) undergoing repair work.
Rental cars are not yet allowed on this section.
When driving a rental car, you should avoid not only the above roads but also certain regions of Georgia. These include Truso, Juta, Vashlovani, Tusheti and Omalo, Shatili, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia.
Please do not underestimate the risks associated with poor condition of road surface, limited accessibility to these areas, and lack of insurance cover. We strongly recommend that you take care of your safety and choose alternative transport options or guided tours to visit these locations.
The Truso Gorge is a remote place where you can admire the beauty of the mountains, walk through abandoned villages, and enjoy the bright colours and flavours of the mineral springs. You will need a regular car to drive to the village of Almasiani where you can go on an off-road tour with local guides.
It is forbidden to drive from the village of Almasiani to the Truso Gorge and beyond.
This narrow and unpaved road goes right over the cliff in some places. There is no insurance cover for such places, and the tenant bears all the responsibility.
Juta is a charming village situated in the Sno Gorge. If you want to enjoy the beauty of this region, you can drive to the village of Sno where you can go on an off-road tour with the locals.
You can’t drive your rental car from the village of Sno to Juta.
The narrow bumpy unpaved road over the gorge is dangerous and not suitable for regular cars.
Vashlovani Nature Reserve is an incredibly beautiful and amazing national park. It offers striking contrasts of nature. There are mountains, canyons, gorges, steppes, mud volcanoes, a desert and more. The only thing this park can’t offer is good roads...
You can drive your rental car to the village of Kasristskali but you can’t drive in the national park.
The unpaved roads running through the Vashlovani area are not covered by insurance because it would be difficult to evacuate the car and passengers from some parts of the park if needed.
It is best to travel around the Vashlovani area in an off-road car with a local guide.
Tusheti and Omalo are most authentic, hard-to-reach, and mysterious villages in Georgia. You can drive here by car only in summer, and only by helicopter during the rest of the year.
The local road is called the “road of death”.
You can drive your rental car to the village of Kvemo Alvani and continue your journey from there only with a local driver in his own off-road car.
You can’t drive on the road from Kvemo Alvani to Tusheti and Omalo.
The road from Kvemo Alvani to Tusheti and Omalo is very dangerous. It’s a bumpy unpaved road with steep serpentine, numerous cliffs, rock falls, and even waterfalls along the way... Yes, small waterfalls run across the road in some places slowly eroding the road.
There is no insurance cover here because it's very difficult to get emergency assistance in this region.
It will be extremely interesting to visit the fortress village of Shatili for those who like to explore the defence structures of the past. This settlement consists of abandoned tower houses that were used for defence until as late as the mid-20th century. However, you can drive a regular car only to the village of Gudani where the paved road ends.
Rental cars are not allowed on the road from Gudani to Shatili and beyond.
There’s a very bad unpaved road from Gudani, and the roadside disappears into a precipice in some places at the Bear Cross Pass. We recommend travelling here only with a local driver and in a suitable off-road car.
You can’t drive your rental car to South Ossetia and Abkhazia because those territories are not controlled by the Georgian authorities and insurance is not valid there.
Georgia has many stunning places that you can visit by rental car. And if you want to have an exciting and safe journey, you should take into account the local road conditions. Have a nice trip!