1. Plan. Really well
Planning is the most important thing to do if you don't want to end up with unfinished project, wasted money and nerves. There are lot's of wannabes posting a lot about camper van project but have never even started one, or stopped on the way with dismantled vans. To get the thing done you'll need step by step plan with calendar, contacts, tools, budget and timing. Plans that are not written on paper or in word document doesn't exist.
2. Save a lot of money
Car projects always cost more that you ever thought. In most cases people stop working on their project because they don't have enough money. Even in case of good plan you can never calculate all expenses waiting for you. So, get you life together and save lot of money first.
4. Buy a vehicle
This is the stage when you shouldn't make a mistake. Camper van is not a thing that you buy and sell every year. This is a dream project that will be with you for tens of years, so try to get as fresh vehicle as you can. Old ones will break you heart. In your country and region you'll have more options to check visually and drive by yourself. If you need a vehicle that can't be found in your neighbourhood importing is the only option. Once the vehicle is in your yard it will need to do some fixing. Try to do them before you'll start converting. Later you won't have time for it.
Your sleeping and cooking position is pretty much based on layout of camper van. Let's sort everything by priorities.
You can use wood and metal for furniture. Wood is easier to install, though will be spoiled because of driving vibration. So, I suggest to built metal rack for furniture. It's better to be done by the professional too.
10. P.I.M.P. it
Once you have a camper van its time for making it special. You can paint it in different ways, install spacers and A/T tires, stairs to the back or on the side of van, winch for off-road ones and etc. In this field the sky is the limit.
To sum up all you need is a good plan, a lot of money, inspiration and a good nerves. If you can't or don't want to own one - rent it here.
The Mountains Are Calling & I Must Go! - told this to myself and took my girlfriend to the spontaneous adventure trip to Khevsureti on her birthday. This is a story of falling rocks, traffic jam on 2650 m altitude, exhausting hiking and burst of emotions.
Late take off
You don't have a chance for proper start when you was drinking till 4 a.m. last night. After a shower and a bottle of Borjomi we're able to leave the city at 11 a.m. The first stop was for lunch after 4 hours of non-stop driving at the Aragvi river bank. We felt hungry the way before but c'mon who eats on sideways of the highway? Mountains river bank with forest sounds much better.
Never eat the same staff on holidays that you eat everyday. Eggs, bacon, bread, potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, tea, coffee and sweets. Our ingredients looks like this, but we have lot's of variations of cooking.
After the long drive cooking is a great way of relaxing and stretching. Taking a gas from storage, choosing ingredients and rolling bread on the pan - that's better than stretching.
In the end the meal tastes great on the fresh air.
Driving up to 2000 m altitude views become spectacular. This is the height where trees stop growing and mountains are covered with grass like a rug. We reached Roshka at 8 p.m. It didn't make sense to start hiking. So we parked in the entrance of village at springs.
Because of our extraordinary route we had to hike in the field where no one has hiked before (at least there were no footprints or any trace of human being). We crossed a small swamp, 2 springs and a river and joined the pass. This is where I regret I let my ax in the camper. There where high green mountains, the glacier and no civilization around us. We where into the wild. But after hiking few hundred miters the views become more beautiful than scary.
Traffic jam on 2650 m altitude and falling rocks
After exhausting hiking we're just sitting without movement for 20 minutes. We'd love to stay but there was long road ahead. We drove back to the main road and starting driving up to Datvisjvari pass (2689m).
There was road construction and we drove with loaded trucks. They were driving slower than our campervan's 1st gear drives and there weren't many places for overtaking. At one point, near the top I had to stop because the truck was too slow and I gave some room to it. There was a high rock to the left of us and a deep abyss to the right and Esma said "Look, stones are falling". I've never been that fast and nerves in my life. The rocks were falling just next to us and were about to hit the van. I pushed an accelerator, but left the left leg from the clutch too fast so engine was shut down. Rocks are still falling. I rolled the key again, pushed the accelerator as hard as I could and took off with AWD burnout. I don't have photos, there was no time for that, you've to trust us. That was close.
Shatili and Shatilions
We hadn't stopped till Shatili. We arrived at night and visited our Shatilion (people from Shatili) friends. They live in towers built in 15th century and earlier. For our point of view they live in the dream. They hosted us with delicious local food and mint tea that was much better than our packet one. Khvanchkara, bonfire and group of Shatilion friends on the tower rooftop - this was legend(wait for it...)dary.
This was one of the few mornings people can remember. We parked in front of Shatili in order to have a great view for the morning and it worked. We woke up with the sunrise. The birds were whistling, river was flowing silently and the view was like this.
Khevsureti is one of these places in Georgia that never had a lord. People had been free till Russian occupancy. They were independent citizens and used to protect their own families by themselves. This is why they lived in fighting towers. Shatili is at the border of Chenchia and Qisteti (now are in Russian federation). Chatilions were the first protecting wall for enemies from the north. Looking to the towers me as a Georgian feel the power and pride of being their decedent.
Leaving the place like this is not that easy for Georgian, but responsibilities call us too. The road back was too long for one day, but the views made it easier.
We came back to Kutaisi yesterday, but still are tired and full of emotions. Traveling is the only expense that makes your soul richer.