Peaks of the Caucasus Rally
I recently got back from taking part in the Peaks of the Caucasus Rally in Georgia (organised by Dutch based Via-Flaminia) in my beloved 1931 Invicta S-Type. There were 30 pre-war cars participating and we (myself and my co-driver Julia) covered over 2,000 km in 12 days.
Georgia proved to be a really fascinating country and it was such a pleasure to drive the length and breadth of it - although sometimes in challenging in conditions! We spent several days enjoying the capital Tblisi with its beautiful Old Town and delicious cuisine until making a grand, police escorted exit via Freedom Square on the third day. Our route took us to a monastery cave-dwelling set into the hillside at Vardzia; the spa town of Borjomi with its own mineral water; the ancient settlements of Mestia - with its many watchtowers piercing the sky; we drove right on to the incredible Engauri Dam; and we motored up to the pretty hilltop town of Sighnaghi. Most unexpectedly, we even had the chance to carry out regularity tests at a working Manganese factory and several old airport runways! During the rally, we were lucky enough to explore a few vineyards and learn about the ancient 6,000 year wine making traditions of Georgia. The drive took us almost to the top of several Peaks in the Caucasus and the views left us breathless - especially in Stepantsminda where we were overshadowed by the stunning snowy peak of Mount Kazbegi.
The weather was wonderful - except for one day when it rained and rained and we nearly got stuck in the mud, the sun shined on our rally. Some of the conditions for a low chassis pre-war car such as the Invicta were very challenging - there were many pot-holed roads in the rural and mountain areas. But worse than the pot-holes were the free ranging animals - pigs, sheep, horses and street-dogs that just roam the side of the roads and are liable to saunter into the middle without notice. My breaks were definitely put to good use on this trip!
The beauty of the country and the generosity of its welcoming people left a real impression both of us. Here are some photos of me, the Invicta, the scenery, some other participants...and lots of sheep!!