Svaneti, an area in the north-west of Georgia, is a place quite unlike anywhere else. Tucked in the rare habitable pockets of the Caucasus mountains (sometimes even clinging to the sides), its villages are a patchwork of higgledy-piggledy dirt tracks complete with free-range cows, bear-like mountain dogs and the hairiest of pigs. Medieval defensive towers punctuate the landscape, built as places for the whole village to wait out enemy invaders – a tactic that worked so well that the Svan language, polyphonic singing style and many of its unique customs (blood feuds included) were just as impossible to conquer as the mountains themselves. The nearest town Mestia is between three and five hours of stomach-churning roads away, and in the harsh winter metres of snow damage this one road so completely that it needs to be laid again every spring. Here you can try to domesticate nature, but it has a will all of its own.