From Ushguli to Chvelpi

Scenic hike connecting Lower and Upper Svaneti. Highlight of the walk is a traverse of Svaneti ridge.


Overview

Scenic hike from Upper to Lower Svaneti crossing Svaneti mountain range. The first half of the trek offers breathtaking views of main Caucasus ridge.

Duration: 9-10 hours

Difficulty: Hard

Hard - the path is not always obvious and during the day you will have to overcome considerable distance and elevation.

How to get to Ushguli:

Minivans to Ushguli depart daily in the morning from the Seti square. They wait until they are full, usual price for a ride is 30 GEL
If you prefer walking, very popular is the 4-day . Ushguli is also accesible from Lower Svaneti via Latpari pass or Zagar pass.

How to leave Chvelpi:

There is a daily marshrutka to Lentekhi leaving in the morning. The trip takes some 2 hours.
Another option is, as usual, to keep walking by the road and hitchhike, but traffic for first few hours will be very low.

When to go:

Trail usually becomes passable in the late May. However, be prepared for the possibility that you won´t be able to reach Chvelpi in time because of snow and will have to spend the night outside. By the middle of June, most of the snow has already melted and trail becomes ideal also for dayhikers.
Best time to hike is till the end of September, but the trail stays open also in the first weeks of October. Then it gets blocked by first serious snowfalls.

View south from the Guli pass

Description of the route

Trail starts by the bridge in Chazhashi, one of the villages belonging to Ushguli community - there is also a pointer showing the way to Latpari pass. Cross the bridge to the left bank of Inguri river, pass the museum and leave the village. Then continue walking downstream on the path running by the river until you come to the Murkmeli village (village lies on the other bank of the river). Trail here turns to the left and starts climbing uphill by the smaller stream.

At the elevation 2150, the spring splits into 2 tributaries, you need to keep to the right (so when looking from the spring, you are actually following left tributary of the stream). On the ridge to the left, you can see the remains of two stone defensive towers.

Path then keeps ascending through fields of rhododendrons and sometimes even disappears. If you lose it, just keep climbing to the south, to the top of the ridge. When you finally make it there, you should find another pointer and also quite a visible pathway - this place is called Gorvashi pass.

Turn to the right and start walking in the western direction, right on the ridge. This is by far the most amazing part of the trek as you can see large sections of main Caucasus ridge with mountains such as Shkhara, Tetnuldi and even Ushba.

After approx. 2 km you will see a steep hill in front of you - Latpari pass is right behind it. Traverse the hill from the left side - trail is hard to see, so just don't descent too much and once you pass it, you will see Latpari pass with new a car road built in 2013 right in front of you. Come to the pass, from here it's easy (at least when speakin about orientation, your knees would disagree). You just need to follow Kala-Chvelpi road and after the few hours of steep descent on the endless serpentine, you will make it to Chvelpi.

From Latpari pass it's also possible to continue to Ma'ami village further west, but this trail is longer and almost impossible to finish in a day. It's also very difficult to follow - slopes are steep, and trail markings, even though they exist, are completely illogical. According to feedback from a guy who finished it, markings disappeared at the end and they had to to hack their way through thick brush for several hours till reaching Maami. If you want to try it, it's. recommended to split the walk into two days and spend the night on the Latpari pass. There are two small lakes close you the pass where you can get water (though you should first boil it) Actually, it may be worth to spend a night there even if you have time and are heading for Chvelpi - just because of those morning views (check the title photo of this article).

View south from Latpari pass

Title photo, as well as two others were taken by Ukrainian photographer Igor Peftiev. I recommend to check the full photoreport.
Remaining photos were taken by another clever photographer Martin Bibza and hikers Oriol Girona and Jozef Formanek.




Morning view from the Latpari pass Ushguli Climb to the Svaneti ridge At the Gorvashi pass Hiking on Svaneti ridge (by Oriol Girona) Hiking on Svaneti ridge (by Oriol Girona) Caucasus Towards Latpari pass Small lakes by the Latpari pass Lake by the Latpari pass Latpari pass with a new road Evening views from Latpari pass View from the Latpari pass In the riverbed of Pushkueri

Copyright © 2016 Jozef Antala. All rights reserved

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