Known also as "Gem of the Caucasus", Georgia is nestled between Black and Caspian sea, where East meets West and .. .. nevermind. Let´s skip usual clichés and get to the point. The country is a trekkers paradise. And it doesn’t matter whether you prefer exploring its medieval villages or undertaking long treks in the wilderness. It is also a very safe destination with hospitable people and a great cuisine so it´s not hard to understand why so many hikers keep returning again and again (me included).
The development of tourism in Georgia was for a long time hampered by instability but those times are finally over and the country is quickly opening up to the world.
Yet, there is still little information about its hiking trails online. And what is even more surprising, nobody has put them on the list yet. So let me grab this opportunity and introduce ten multi-day treks which, in my humble opinion, are amongst the best ones this country has to offer.
Trek connects Mestia, the center of Svaneti region with the remote mountain village of Ushguli. It is the most popular trek in Georgia and for a good reason - it offers great natural and historical sights, is accessible and not that long. Another advantage is the possibility to sleep every night in villages so you don´t need a tent.
In case that four days of trekking is not enough for you, you can easily extend this hike into a much longer adventure and explore less touristy parts of Svaneti.
Recommended for: Hikers who are looking for best possible scenery, contact with locals, comfort and don’t mind meeting other tourists.
Distance: 58 km
Duration: 4 days
My advice: For even better views, on the first day take an alternative higher route crossing Zuruldi massif with the sleepover in Tsvirmi (instead of sleeping in Zhabeshi village). There is also interesting variant for Day 4 - instead of making a detour through the valleys, you can reach Ushguli across the mountains, using the route through the Lagem pass.
Guided tour: Svaneti trekking tour
By Pablo Naumkin
This backpacking trek connects villages of Omalo and Shatili, historical centers of mountain regions Tusheti and Khevsureti. It’s intriguing not only by natural sights but also by several ancient fortresses and villages, dominated by stone towers.
The first two days are spent in the inhabited valley, then comes the section in the wilderness where you will meet only occasional shepherds, trekkers or border guards. The highlight of the trek is a crossing of the 3431m high Atsunta pass.
Recommended for: Those who want to experience the culture of mountain people as well as some camping.
Distance: 70 km
Duration: 5 days
My advice: Instead of spending the first day hiking on the dirt road, consider higher, more scenic trail traversing Pirikita range. You will not be able to visit charming Dartlo village but views are much better here. You will then connect "classic" trail in Parsma.
Guided tour: Omalo to Shatili trekking tour
A popular trail connecting Juta village in Kazbegi region with the Khevsureti. Attractive due to a proximity of the imposing Chaukhi massif with its seven sharp peaks and a necessity to scale 3338 meters high Chaukhi pass. At the other side of the pass, you will find Abudelauri lakes - three alpine lakes with different colors (green, blue and white).
If you have more time, you can turn north and visit communities of Arkhoti. Especially upper part of this remote valley is worth a visit - you can expect to find there nice gorges, waterfalls, and the complete solitude. The next day you can cross Arkhoti pass and return to Juta - however, this last section lost a lots of its appeal since a few years ago, an original trail got replaced by a car road.
The another option is to return from Roshka to Juta via Sadzele pass - this route also takes a day but is much easier. In a few years, government plans to build here a road so it’s worth seeing while it’s still "unspoiled".
Recommended for: Hikers who visited Kazbegi, saw the most iconic sight of Georgia and are looking for other great sceneries nearby.
Distance: 21 km (one-way), 36 km (returning by Sadzele pass) or 52 km (with return through Arkhoti)
Duration: 1-2 days (one-way), 2-3 days (returning by Sadzele pass) or 3-4 days (with return through Arkhoti)
Guided tour: Kazbegi adventure tour
This beautiful, yet very demanding trek takes you to some of the most remote parts of Caucasus. It follows the old road which once connected Zeskho village in Svaneti with Ghebi in Racha, but fell into disrepair a long time ago. Nowadays, it’s completely gone as it has been destroyed by landslides and lush vegetation.
The route is challenging, it crosses two steep mountain passes and the wild valley of Tskhenistskali river. Not for everybody!
Recommended for: Adventurers who primarily don’t seek cultural or natural sights, but go after a sense of achievement, want to overcome obstacles
and don’t mind wading through fields of 2-meter tall hogweeds and stinging nettles.
Distance: 39 km
Duration: 3-4 days
The Greater Caucasus is a home to numerous animal species, yes sometimes its valleys feel a bit empty, devoid of life. It is caused by an age-old hunting instinct of local people (or, to put it more bluntly, poaching) and a long history of shepherding.
If the wildlife is what you are looking for, you should head for Lagodekhi park, the oldest nature reserve in Georgia. This Park offers several hiking trails, the most interesting of which being the trek to Black Rock Lake. You will cross ancient, preserved forest and be able to observe local fauna such as chamois, deer, and mountain goats. Trek ends near Black rocks lake, lying at the elevation of 2800 meters. Also, in 2016, another trail was opened to the lake so now you don't have to return the same way.
Recommended for: Hikers looking not only for natural sights but also for wildlife.
Distance: 45 km
Duration: 3 days
By I. Kurtauli
This trek, starting in picturesque Truso valley, explores the Keli volcanic plateau - a barren, rocky piece of land lying west of Georgian Military Highway. Only a very few people ever come hiking here as this area lies in the proximity of South Ossetia. The highlight of the trip is a visit to the glacial Kelitsadi lake.
If you want to spend more time in the area, you can also explore gorges of Mna and Suatisi north of Truso valley - you can find there peculiar rock formations, waterfalls and the unusual perspective of the Kazbegi massif.
Recommended for: Trekkers familiar with more touristy areas of Georgia, looking for something new and impressive.
Distance: 37 km
Duration: 3 days
By Jussi Saha
An alternative, longer route connecting Tusheti and Khevsureti. Also, one of the very few trails which directly traverses the central ridge of Greater Caucasus. The first section of the trek follows the valley of Tushetis Alazani, but once you climb to the Borbalo pass, you will be able to spend almost two days at the top of the ridge.
Trail linked here ends at the Datvisjvari pass, but it can be further prolonged - with some effort, it´s possible to traverse the main ridge for another three days, all the way to Roshkasghele pass. Another option is to descend through the valley of Chanchakistskali river to Mutso and join the classic trail between Omalo and Shatili.
Recommended for: Hikers looking for long, remote, panoramic treks.
Distance: 77 km
Duration: 5 days
Borjomi-Kharagauli National park is located in the mountains of Lesser Caucasus. Being one of the largest national parks in Georga, it’s famous for its pristine forests, wildlife and developed infrastructure.
The park has nine marked hiking trails. Probably the best one of them is known as St.Andrews trail - it offers great views as well as the possibility to climb Sametskhvario, the highest mountain in the park. Also, tents are not necessary as it’s possible to sleep in tourist shelters for a small cost.
Recommended for: People looking for "the Swiss experience" (pristine forests and developed trails at the same time).
Distance: 54 km
Duration: 4 days
By Borjomi park administration
Udziro trek is probably the best trek in Racha, region every inch as beautiful as Svaneti but often overlooked by tourists because of the lack of infrastructure and stone towers. It starts in Shovi village, climbs to the small lake lying at the elevation of 2600m, right beneath the Dolomisistsveri mountain and then descends to Glola.
The main draw of this trek are very nice mountains. The rocks look weirdly "bent" - I haven´t seen anything like this anywhere else in the Caucasus. And the pass above the lake is the perfect vantage point which allows you to admire the panorama of Greater Caucasus.
Recommended for: Geologists :). And also everyone else who likes interesting, imposing mountains.
Distance: 19 km
Duration: 2 days
My advice: If you are very fit, start from Glola at 6 am and return the same way, you may be able to do this trek in a single day. My advice is - do not do it. Not only you won´t see the beautiful mountains of Chkhauri valley, but also (obviously) won´t be able to camp. And the mornings by the Udziro lake are magnificient!
Tobavarchkhili (Silver) lake lies at the heart of Egrisi mountains, which separates the Svaneti region from lowlands. To reach it, you have to walk for at least two days; then you can continue north to Svaneti.
There are no cultural sights such as villages or towers on the way, but it’s more than compensated by a very diverse environment - glacial lakes, rocky gorges, waterfalls, shepherds huts and much more.
What’s even better, you will meet only a few hikers, mostly Georgians. Foreign tourists with limited time and even more limited ability to remember and google Georgian words such as "Tobavarchkhili" usually focus on better-known areas and keep this gem of Caucasus mostly unspoiled. But it won't last forever - the number of hikers grows year by year.
Recommended for: Nature lovers, who want to avoid crowds.
Distance: 70 km
Duration: 4-5 days
My advice: Western Svaneti is very rich in beautiful glacial lakes. If even Toba lakes sound too touristy, check other nice ones such as Tskhvandiri lakes or colorful Okrostskali lakes. Guided tour:
Guided tour: Trek to Tobavarchkhili lakes