An extended version of our popular Svaneti trekking tour, suitable for those who have enough time and want to truly explore the most scenic places of Svaneti region. It contains the best parts of the classic Svaneti tour - the crossing of Chkhunderi pass, an alternative, little-used crossing to Ushguli through 3000m high Lagem pass as well as extra time devoted to Ushguli village. And, thanks to the extra time, we were able to extend in the opposite direction and include more hikes, some of the best ones in Svaneti.
Over several days, we will trek in the vicinity of Mt. Ushba, the most photogenic mountain in Svaneti and we will also climb to Mkheri church tucked beneath Mt. Laila, which offers wonderful panoramic views of Greater Caucasus.
|Date||No. of participants||Duration||Deposit|
|29. 06. - 06. 07. 2020||6 - 10||8 days||€150|
|24. 07. - 31. 07. 2020||6 - 10||8 days||€150|
|17. 08. - 24. 08. 2020||6 - 10||8 days||€150|
|07. 09. - 14. 09. 2020||6 - 10||8 days||€150|
From Zugdidi to Mestia:
Marshrutkas to Mestia leave from Zugdidi train station every day. The first one departs around 6:30 a.m, after the arrival of the night train from Tbilisi, but there should be several others before noon. The last one usually departs at 14:30. The trip takes about 3-4 hours (1-hour break included) and the price is 20 GEL per person.
From Tbilisi to Mestia:
In my opinion, the best option is the night train to Zugdidi and marshrutka from there. Train departs from Tbilisi at 21:45 and reaches Zugdidi at 6:05 am. Price of the ticket is 21 GEL, tickets for sleeper berths can be bought in advance at matarebeli.ge website (the official web is railway.ge, but that never worked for me). Just one important thing - tickets are released for the online sale only some 20 days in advance. So don´t freak out if you can´t buy your ticket online because of the "no tickets available" error :)
There is also a day train option for those who don't like sleepers. This train departs from Tbilisi at 8:10 and makes it to Zugdidi at 13:45, just in time to catch some of the last marshrutkas to Svaneti. The price of the ride is 16 GEL.
If you want to save time, you could also consider a flight - there are 4 flights a week from Natakhtari airport near Tbilisi, operated by VanillaSky company . You would see Caucasus from a completely different perspective and for 90 GEL it´s quite a bargain. On the downside, they occassionally get canceled because of the weather and during the summer, you should book at least month in advance since they get booked up pretty fast. For more info, pls check this excellent post about the flight (covers also flight from Kutaisi).
The last option is the direct marshrutka - two minibuses depart at 7:00 from the area in front of Main Railway Station, come at least 30 minutes earlier to catch a spot. Another one departs at 8:00 from Samgori railway station. The price is 30 GEL, so it´s quite cheap, but I can´t recommend it since this uncomfortable journey takes grueling 9-10 hours - basically, it's just slower, marginally cheaper and less comfortable alternative for the day train.
If you want to take bus, it much better to take comfortable long-distance buses operated by the Turkish company Metro bus. The downside is that they will get you only as far as to Zugdidi. There, you will have to switch to marshrutka to get to Mestia.
From Kutaisi to Mestia:
This depends on whether you want to get to Mestia from the city or from the Kutaisi airport.
In the first case, your best options are the direct minibuses (the price is 25 GEL) departing from the station behind McDonalds. The first one leaves at 9:00 but if you want to secure your spot, get there between 8:00 - 8:30 am. since it's quite popular among tourists. The next marshrutka then departs at 10:00 or even earlier if full. If you miss both and there is none other direct bus available, look for a marshrutka to Zugdidi (price 7 GEL) - it's the same way and you can find there transport to Mestia more easily (especially if you notify your driver in Kutaisi that you need to continue to Mestia).
If you are travelling directly from the airport, the most reliable way to get to Mestia is the use the service of Georgian bus (they have a stand at the airport) - the price is 40 GEL per person. You ask also ask some taxi drivers loitering at the arrivals hall, they may be willing to give you even a better price.
From Batumi to Mestia:
Marshrutka is the only option, it departs from the main bus station. Since you will have switch the bus in Zugdidi (you may have to wait for several hours there), this ride takes a better part of the day. The first bus departs at 8:00 am, then there should be another one at 9:30 am.
In the morning, we will meet up at Mestia. From here, we will drive to Etseri, the seat of Dadeskheliani princes who ruled the western, "tame" half of Svaneti. From there, we will head northeast and scale 2428 meters high Baki pass. From here, the first views of Ushba open up. We follow the ridge to the south till we reach Meziri Archangel church. Soon afterward, we will descend through a beautiful pine forest to the Mazeri village. Night at Mazeri guesthouse
Today, we will follow the Dolra river deeper into the valley. The route flat at first, at least till be cross the bridge close to border guards camp. Not far beyond roars reach Shdughra waterfall, by our opinion the most impressive waterfall in Georgia. Then we will climb above the waterfalls and cross young forests, meadows and finally a moraine to the foot of Ushba glacier - the views of mountains around are unforgettable. To conserve energy, we won´t hike all the way to Mazeri - cars will pick us up halfway there, by a small snack bar with beer and refreshments. Night at Mazeri guesthouse.
Today, we will scale the Guli pass, one of the highest places of our tour. First, we will navigate the Gulichala valley, enjoying splendid morning views of Mt. Ushba. Then comes the steep climb to the pass. Once finally up, we will follow the ridge towards Mt. Gul, descent the bit and traverse the hillside to Lamaaja ridge. Here, we will rejoin the dirt track and descend to the viewpoint at Tshakazagari mountain, where we will board cars and drive to a small, non-touristy village Lakhushdi. Night at the local guesthouse.
Today, we will climb to the picturesque Mkheri church, using a new, little-known route, more scenic than the usual one. The church is situated at the top of a hill beneath Mt. Laila, the highest peak of the Svaneti range. If the weather allows, we will get an opportunity to admire its glaciers as well as a wonderful panorama of the mountain wall of Greater Caucasus. Then we will return to our Lakhushdi guesthouse and enjoy a special dinner prepared by our friendly landlords.
In the morning, we will be transferred to Heshkili village, from where we will begin our ascent onto the Zuruldi ridge. Once we reach the cable car station, the terrain flattens and we will be able to enjoy terrific views in all directions. After a steep descent from the Mentashi transmitter, we will follow a rarely used trail through until meadows until we connect larger track descending to Tsvirmi. Tsvirmi is a calm, atmospheric village, still undiscovered by mass tourism. We will spend a night at one of the local guesthouses.
In the morning, transfer to Adishi (or Tetnuldi resort, if a guide decides that the group is fit enough). Here, we will reconnect classic Mestia - Ushguli trail just in time to enjoy it´s most scenic section. First, we will follow the Adischala river towards the Adishi glacier, where it originates. We will cross it with the assistance of a horse and climb towards Chkhunderi pass (2600m). Then we descent to Khaldechala valley and soon reach almost abandoned Khalde village. Here, we will spend a night in one of the local guesthouses.
Today, we will be joined one more guide and our group splits into two - it will be up to you which route you would like to take. If you are up for a challenge, you will cross the Khaldechala river and climb Lagem pass. From here, you will enjoy great views of Mt. Shkhara, the highest Georgian mountain. Then you will descend to the Enguri valley and reach Ushguli. Night at the Ushguli guesthouse.
If you want to take it easy, you can also follow the classic route to Ushguli which follows the Enguri river. Both groups will rejoin in the afternoon at Ushguli.
In the morning, climb south towards the Gorvashi pass. From here, you can enjoy the wonderful mountain panorama of the Greater Caucasus. After a short hike on the ridge, return to Ushguli. Alternatively, since this is a roundtrip, this walk is not mandatory and you can also make your program. For example, if you are interested in a horse trip to Shkhara glacier or Zagar pass, our guide will help you to find providers of the service and negotiate it. Or you can just stay chilling in the village if you are really tired after the previous days. Either way, you will meet all again around 3 pm and be transported back to Mestia.