Svaneti is a unique high mountain region in the Greater Caucasus. Located in the northwest of the beautiful country of Georgia, the area has become more and more popular with hikers and climbers in recent years, and rightly so! Naturally, I was also drawn there too!
These four stages take you to pristine valleys, blooming flower meadows, rugged mountain ranges, glaciers, snow-capped peaks and quaint mountain villages. The unique Svan towers, which were built hundreds of years ago to protect the villages, have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.
All of the stages are well signposted and not too difficult, with manageable distances and no overly challenging climbs. As long as you have a reasonable fitness level and the weather is on your side, then the walks are great. In total, you hike 60 kilometres (37 mi) and climb 3,200 metres (10,500 ft). The best time to explore these mountains is from May to October when the passes are clear from snow.
In Georgia, everyone has the right to pitch their tent anywhere. If you don’t want to carry too much luggage, you can also stay with Georgian families in guesthouses in the rustic mountain villages. That’s what I did on my trip. They’ll spoil you with fresh, home-grown fruits and vegetables and typical Georgian cheese breads called Khachapuri. Hospitality is a big deal here. Your hosts will give you provisions for each day too. Nevertheless, make sure that you have enough cash on you as you can’t pay by card in the villages. It’s also wise to book a guesthouse in advance.
I recommend spending at least a week in Georgia and adding an extra day in Tbilisi, the capital, or in the central city of Kutaisi.
Both Tbilisi and Kutaisi have international airports. The local airline Vanilla Sky flies to Queen Tamar Airport in Mestia, the main town in Svaneti, provided the visibility is good. Alternatively, you can travel by marshrutka (the local name for a public minibus) or rent a car. Trains also run to Zugdidi where you can take a minibus to shorten your journey time on the bumpy roads. Driving takes eight hours from Tbilisi airport and five hours from Kutaisi.
This trek, with its traditional mountain villages and exceptionally hospitable people, is sure to become a memory that you cherish for many years to come.
Majestic snow-capped mountain peaks characterize the surroundings of the small town of Mestia, which is located at an altitude of 1500 meters with around 2000 inhabitants.Some accommodations are housed in houses with defensive towers (for example the Ametapi guest house), so you can have an authentic overnight experience right from the start of your multi-day tour.You start the …
On your second stage you leave Zhabeshi and walk a gravel path past lush meadows with grazing cows. It goes up through sparse forest, on a ridge east of the Ughviri pass.The path leads for a part along a ski slope with a lift, the Tetnuldi ski area, which was leveled in the middle of the beautiful landscape - probably in the hope of being able to receive wealthy winter sports guests.
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With the third stage you conquer up to 1060 meters in altitude. Here it is advisable to start the hike as early as possible, as the river that you have to cross has less melt water in the early morning. The water is very cold and the current strong and walking through it is a bit of an adventure.You leave Adishi on a path that leads through a high valley past grazing horses.
The fourth and last day begins with a very short piece on a road that you quickly leave, turn into the village of Davberi and climb steeply up a hiking trail behind the last courtyards.Along a ridge you hike with the surrounding mountain panorama in view up to the high valley of Ushguli.The people there no longer live …