From Mazeri to Mestia

A beautiful, but very demanding day-hike offering superb views of Ushba mountain.


Overview

A beautiful, but very demanding day-hike pass offering superb views of Ushba mountain and Svaneti ridge. Highest point of the hike is 2947m high Guli pass.

Duration: 9-10 hours

It is also possible to split this into 2 uneven sections if you take the morning marshrutka from Zugdidi and come to Mazeri in the early afternoon. In this case, you can continue another 1,5 hours to the ruins of Guli village, camp overnight and complete the hike on the second day.
Another possibility is to take a tent and camp at the Koruldi lakes high above Mestia.

Difficulty: Hard

During the day, you will have to overcome considerable distance and elevation (distance 20km, 1500 vertical meters up and down). If you want to do it in a day, start early!

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When to go:

This one is tricky. There is no specific date when Guli pass suddenly becomes “open” and “accesible” as the situation differs every year. It also depends on the hikers - one group may be able to cross in the middle of June while the other will struggle even few weeks later.
But overall, the best period for this hike is from the beginning of July till the end of September. Trail is usually passable from mid-June (or even earlier), but at this period it could be difficult because of the leftover snow.
If you are lucky with the weather, you can have a nice hike even in first weeks of October. Later usually come first serious snowfalls which block the pass till the next season.

How to get to Mazeri:

There is no public transportation to Mazeri. The closest road served by marshrutkas lies 7 kilometers away, at the mouth of Becho valley. Take the morning marshrutka from Zugdidi to Svaneti, tell a driver that you want to go to Becho community and he will let you out at the right place.
If you prefer walking, there are two nice, scenic daywalks connecting Mazeri with neighbouring villages - Mestia and Etseri.

How to leave Mestia:

Marshrutkas to Zugdidi leave every day in the morning. There are usually a few more during the day, depending on the demand. In a high season there should be also daily marshrutkas to Tbilisi and Batumi, departing in the morning). For actual timetables and booking of tickets, please visit Bus Office near the new gate leading to Seti Square

View south from the Guli pass

Description of the route

From Mazeri start walking northeast, into the valley of the Gulichala river. After more than one hour you will come to the ruins of the Guli village - this is a good place to camp if you want to do the 2-day version of the trek. And this is also the last opportunity to get fresh water, so refill your bottles.

Continue walking up the valley by the river towards the Ushba mountain, a trail will become steeper. After another hour, you will reach shepherd's huts. Following tourists pointer, turn right here and start climbing towards the pass. The path is quite obvious and there are also small stone mounds so you shouldn´t get lost.

Finally, in the Guli pass (2974m). If you have time and energy, you can climb further north to gain an even better view of Ushba. Ushba is one of the most interesting peaks of whole Caucasus ridge, its name in Georgian means “Mountain without path” (also called "The Witch" due to its horned peak).

From the Guli pass, start walking south on the ridge, path slowly descends. Then, after 1 kilometer, turn left and descend lower into the valley - slope here is pretty steep. Then turn northeast and cross both branches of Pushkueri river about 600 meters above their confluence. Terrain is a bit confusing, but the whole path is well marked by painted marks as well as signposts.

Here you have also an option to shorten your trek. When you come to Pushkueri river, you can walk by it it until the road appears. Then just follow it and after an hour you will come to the main road 2 km west of Mestia.

If you are interested in the longer, more scenic route, cross both branches of Pushkueri river and continue east. Slowly descend to the east, towards Lamaaja ridge. You will be traversing a meadow crossed by numerous streams, which offers amazing views of Svaneti ridge to the south. Eventually, you reach the ridge and find a big trail heading north towards Koruldi lakes. But you probably won´t have time to see them (unless you plan to camp there) so just turn right and continue south.

After another hour, you will come to the cross on a hill over Mestia. Here you need to turn left and follow the main tourist trail to the town. You could also descend directly to Mestia by the trail to the south, but the path here is very steep and taking it is not something the ordinary hiker would do at the end of this kind of trek.

View from Guli pass towards Mazeri

Photos were taken by Russian hiker and photographer Anna Belova, Czech hiker Josef Formanek, my compatriots Jozef Strezenec and Radovan Bieleny, Polish photographer Marcin Chalupka and Irish walker Fergal Hingerty. Thanks to all of you!




Upper Gulischala valley Ushba from Mazeri village Ruins of Gul village Above the Gul village Shepherds huts below Ushba Upper Gulischala valley Views from climb to Guli pass Looking back Ushba At the Guli pass, short walk on the ridge ahead View from Guli pass On the ridge by Guli pass Lamaaja ridge ahead In the riverbed of Pushkueri Looking back at the route from Guli pass Camping by the tourist pointer on Lamaaja ridge Descent to shepherds hut View from Tshkhakezagari mountain above Mestia Towers of Mestia

Copyright © 2016 Jozef Antala. All rights reserved

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