Easy day hike from Ushguli to the foot of Shkhara glacier and springs of Inguri river.
Popular day hike starting in the Ushguli village. Can't say it's too exciting since you are walking mostly on a dirt track at the bottom of the valley but the views of Shkhara mountain are really nice
Duration: 5 hours
It takes about five hours to hike to the glacier and return. The length of the hike can be significantly shortened if you take a jeep to drive you deeper into the valley.
No serious climbing, just walking at the bottom of the valley.
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 trail from Mestia. Ushguli is also accessible from Lower Svaneti
via Latpari pass or Zagar pass.
If you need to return to Mestia, your best bet will be minivans making day trips to Ushguli. They are not always full and not all travelers want to go back on the same day,
so there is a decent chance they will have a few empty seats on the return trip. They usually arrive at 10 or 11 am. and depart back towards Mestia around 3 pm.
I recommend you to wait for their arrival and immediately arrange everything with the driver. Fair price for the trip could be 10-20 GEL (as the return trip costs 30 GEL).
If you don't want to wait and decide to hire a whole car, it will cost you about 200 GEL. And, as always, there is the option of walking back and trying to hitchhike.
If you want to prolong your trek, you can cross into Lower Svaneti on foot via Latpari pass or Zagar pass.
Description of the route
Leave the Ushguli village and keep walking on the jeep road to the north, upstream of the Inguri river and towards main Caucasus ridge.
After a while, the valley bends to the northeast and you should see Shkhara glacier in the distance. There is nowhere to get lost, just follow the main road.
You will probably have to cross a few small streams.
The only tricky part comes after some 2 hours of walking at the place, when you come to an arrow with a sign “Shkhara” pointing to the other side of the river. You may be tempted to cross the river here via a broken bridge, but it's not a good idea. Instead, stay on the right bank. Still, the bridge you saw has some uses - it comes handy if you plan to climb to Namkuami lake and further to Vachushti pass.
Soon, the main road sharply bends to the left and in serpentines starts climbing up the hill.
Here is a small unmarked trail branching to the right. You need to take it - cross overgrown meadow and field of interesting red rocks.
The path then delves into a small forest and emerges from it at the edge of the moraine, just 300 meters from the foot of the glacier.
When taking pictures at the foot of the glacier, be aware of falling rocks as they can be quite dangerous. To return, use the same way you came here.
Photo with horses was provided byby Daniel Wakefield Pasley -
their article about the hike can be found here.