Another nice trek from Juta to Roshka, less frequented than the classic Chaukhi route.
Another solid 2-day trek from Juta to Roshka, less frequented than a classic Chaukhi route. It crosses two mountain passes and beautiful Arkhoti valley.
However, recently it has lost some of its appeals since the new road has been built between Roshka and Arkhoti valley.
Duration: 2 days
If you plan to venture deeper into the valley and visit its villages, three days are recommended.
Two days, two mountain passes. More demanding is the climb to Arkhotistavi pass.
You will need a tent. Trek can be finished even if you don't have it, but in this case, you will have to walk all the way to Akhielli village.
Which way to hike:
I will describe Juta - Roshka direction, the trek is less strenuous this way as Juta has the higher elevation. But the direction doesn't matter as much as when you walk via Chaukhi pass.
There is no public transport, so probably the best option for solo hikers and couples is the daily minibus arranged by Mountain Freaks agency. It departs twice a day, at 9:30 (return at 16:30) and 11:00 (return at 18:30) from their office in Stepantsminda. Price of the return ticket is 30 GEL and the bus departs when there are at least three passengers. It can take only 7 people, so during the high season (Jul, Aug), I recommend to book it at least one day in advance.
Larger groups or people going only there may prefer a private taxi - ask the owner of your guesthouse or people at the main square. Price for the one-way trip is 40-50 GEL and the ride takes 45 minutes. A return tip with 3-4 hours of waiting time included costs about 80-100 GEL.
Finally, if you want to walk by foot, from Kazbegi its almost 4 hours of walking (17 km) and there is also a possibility to hitchhike.
How to leave Roshka:
Leaving Roshka may be tricky as there is no public transport - you will have to walk around a village and ask for a driver. It took us half of an hour until some villager
called a guy who drove us to Barisakho. It did cost us 60 GEL, but it was the only option as we wanted to catch a bus to Tbilisi on the next day. But if you have more time, I recommend walking
all the way to Barisakho. Also this route is recorded in a gpx log.
In Barisakho, there is daily marshrutka departing to Tbilisi at 9 am. If you want to continue north to Shatili, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, there is a marshrutka from Tbilisi
passing the village before noon. Only other options are paying for a ride or hitchhiking.
Day 1: Juta - Arkhoti valley distance 16km, 1202m and 835m
Trek starts at the beginning of Juta village near a huge touristic map of the area (courtesy of Polish trekkers). Cross the bridge and follow the main road by the river.
When you leave the village, red touristic marking will appear.
Walk along the river, dust road will slowly turn into a walking path. At the other side of the river you will see a border guards camp. When you come close enough, you will be approached
and asked for a passport. Then you will have to wait about 15 minutes will they write you a permit.
Walk another mile on the path - it will suddenly end in the river, with a red arrow indicating that you have to cross it. There is no bridge and water could be high,
you will have to look around and find a place. where you could safely ford it. Find a path at the other side of the river.
Soon you will see the end of the Juta river valley in front of you. The path here turns northeast into Veshattskali river valley. Just follow it, you cant get lost.
At the elevation of 2700m, you will pass turn-off to Sadzele pass, another route to Roshka marked by yellow markings. Stay on the red trail, which will soon turn a bit to left and start noticeably ascending to reach an elevated plateau in the upper part of the valley. Shortly after climbing this plateau you will come close to the end
of also this valley - time to cross small a stream on your right again and ascend into Arkhotistavi pass (3287 m) in the east. Its quite steep and exhausting climb, luckily not too far.
Cross the pass and descent into Arkhoti valley. You will cross several small streams, which will eventually merge into Tsirilovantskali river running in a canyon on your right side.
Walk at the edge of the canyon for a while to the place where its possible to ford a river. Cross the river and climb on small mounds of blueberry bushes.
You should see nice camping flat spot covered with grass approx. 100 meters ahead. Not far below, you can see a newly built road to Akhielli.
Longer variant: If you want to reach Akhielli village, you need to walk another 2 hours on the road by the river.
You will have to cross the river again at a place where valley sharply bends to the north.
Day 2: Arkhoti valley - Roshka distance 10km, 507m and 1036m
Since a new road has been built, the route is pretty straightforward. First follow it to the southwest to the Roshka pass (2986m, named as Bogovachisghele pass on some maps).
After one hour (you will have to climb 400 meters) you should be up and enjoy the great view. From here, the road continues further southwest and after one hour crosses the river. Then it turns
to the southeast and after less than an hour you should reach the Roshka village.