One last time over Georgia – drone photography | Travel


Camera drones have transformed the world of photography by making it cheap and (relatively) safe to take aerial images. But as security and privacy fears have mounted, new laws have begun limiting their use. Georgia was one of the last countries with relatively open skies but on 1 September, it imposed tight restrictions on drones. Amos Chapple, one of the pioneers of drone photography, headed to Georgia with a high-end quadcopter to make one last aerial record of the country’s mountains, lowlands and cities before the new rules came into force.

The mountains



Georgia is a mountainous country straddling western Asia and eastern Europe, between the Black and Caspian Seas. Georgia’s northern border with Russia roughly runs along the crest of the Greater Caucasus mountain range. It is home to some of Europe’s highest peaks.

Sheep stream into the morning sunlight after being released from their corral near Omalo



Livestock are rounded up every evening into corrals for protection from wolves. Here, sheep stream into the morning sunlight after being released from their corral near Omalo

Crypts on a clifftop 1km from the border with Chechnya



Inside, the remains of probable plague victims can still be seen



When plagues swept through the region, infected villagers were banished to stone buildings such as these on a nearby clifftop to await death. Inside, the remains ofprobable plague victims can still be seen.

A break in the clouds during a stormy morning in Juta village, high in the mountains of Mtskheta-Mtianeti



A break in the clouds during a stormy morning in Juta village, high in the mountains of Mtskheta-Mtianeti.

A shepherd leads his flock alongside a river near the village of Khiso.



A shepherd leads his flock along a river near the village of Khiso. The sound of the rushing water was loud enough to drown out the noise of the 4kg Inspire 2 drone used to take this photo.

Morning mist drifts over a small church near Ukhati, along the historic north-south Georgian Military Highway



Morning mist drifts over a small church near Ukhati, along the historic north-south Georgian Military Highway.

Ancient defensive towers sprout from the top of the village of Omalo in Tusheti national park, which borders the Russian republics of Chechnya and Dagestan



Ancient defensive towers sprout from the top of the village of Omalo in Tusheti national park, which borders the Russian republics of Chechnya and Dagestan.

The wind-battered cross atop the Abano Pass.



The wind-battered cross atop the Abano Pass. The 2,826-metre pass, with its free wifi hotspot, is a favoured rest stop for travellers on the treacherous road from Kakheti up into the Tusheti region.

The Lowlands

The Katskhi Pillar is home to an elderly Georgian monk who has lived there for the past 24 years to be ‘closer to God’.



There are about 25,00 rivers in Georgia and the lowlands are full of vineyards and agriculture.

The Katskhi Pillar is home to an elderly Georgian monk who has lived there for the past 24 years to be “closer to God”. The monk has his food winched up by volunteers from the monastery below.

The job of shearing sheep (and one calf) is almost complete at this shepherd settlement on the plains of Samtskhe-Javakheti in central Georgia



The job of shearing sheep (and one calf) is almost complete at this shepherd settlement on the plains of Samtskhe-Javakheti in central Georgia.

A man leaps from the wall of the Samtsvera waterfall, near Zestafoni, on a 38C day



A man leaps from the wall of the Samtsvera waterfall, near Zestafoni, on a 38C day.

Gremi church and castle, with its backdrop of vineyards lit by the morning sun



Gremi church and castle, with its backdrop of vineyards lit by the morning sun.

The Alaverdi monastery among the vineyards of Kakheti



The Alaverdi monastery among the vineyards of Kakheti, where the monks sing songs about the wine they produce.

A stork perched on the ancient Baraleti church, near Tsikhisjvari Samtskhe-Javakheti



A stork perched on the ancient Baraleti church, near Tsikhisjvari Samtskhe-Javakheti.

Uplistsikhe, an abandoned rock-hewn town in the central Kartli region



Uplistsikhe, an abandoned rock-hewn town in the central Kartli region. This was of one of the earliest settlements in Georgia.

The Tserovani refugee camp, near the partially recognised breakaway region of South Ossetia.



The Tserovani refugee camp, near the partially recognised breakaway region of South Ossetia. Georgians displaced during the 2008 war with Russia now live in the camp, with most living off government handouts.

The Nekresi monastery and the fertile plains of the eastern Kakheti region



The Nekresi monastery and the fertile plains of the eastern Kakheti region.

The Cities

The Shavnabada monastery near Tbilisi



Tblisi is the capital and the largest city of Georgia, lying on the banks of the Kura, with a population of roughly 1½ million. Tbilisi’s distinctive architecture reflects its storied past. The Shavnabada monastery, near Tbilisi, looks like a little slice of Tuscany in the evening sunlight.

Batumi after dark, with neon lights and ferris wheel



Batumi, on the Black Sea, is the second largest city. After a bitter separatist war in Abkhazia in the early 1990s, Batumi, with murkier water and less appealing beaches than the breakaway region to the north, has gone all out to attract tourism with casinos and high-rise buildings.

Away from the neon and nightclubs are the quiet hills around Batumi’s Convent Of The Holy Trinity



Away from the neon and nightclubs are the quiet hills around Batumi’s Convent Of The Holy Trinity.

The Chronicles Of Georgia monument.



The Chronicles Of Georgia monument in Tbilisi. Construction of the little-known (by tourists at least) landmark started in 1985 and is the work of Zurab Tsereteli, the artist behind the divisive Peter the Great statue in Moscow.

Tbilisi in the morning light.



Tbilisi in the morning light.

A valley in the hardscrabble town of Chiatura, where manganese is mined.



A valley in the hardscrabble town of Chiatura, where manganese is mined. This factory processes the rare mineral for steel-working operations in Georgia and abroad.

A network of high-level “rope roads” to transport workers to the mine



This passenger cable car has run almost continuously since 1954



The town’s dizzying geography inspired Soviet engineers to install a network of “rope roads” to transport workers to the mine. This passenger cable car has run almost continuously since 1954.

The Kartlis Deda monument, informally known as “Mother Georgia,” looking out over the capital.



The Kartlis Deda monument, informally known as Mother Georgia, looking out over the capital.



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