Last updated on 31st October, 2021

Hike to the Guli glacier

This route is used mostly by mountaineers but works pretty well also as a day hike.


This hike takes you from Mazeri village to the Guli glacier. The trail is little-known by hikers, but quite popular among mountaineers since it forms an approach to a classic Gabriel Khergiani route climbing South Peak of Ushba. From the glacier, you will have panoramic views of the Svaneti range to the south, and close-up views of Ushba and neighboring Mt. Gulba.

Duration: 8-9 hours

The route one-way is short (~9km) but there is almost 1500m of ascent from Mazeri so the walk to the glacier could take up to 5 hours. If you want to complete it as a day hike and return to Mazeri, be sure to start early.
If you rather camp at the glacier, the following day is a comfortable walk back down the valley. Alternatively, you can return to the Guli huts and continue over the Guli pass to Mestia.

Difficulty: Moderate

The trail is easy to follow with sporadic red/white trail markers for the first half of the hike and sporadic stone pyramids for the second half. However, during the hike, you will have to overcome a considerable altitude.


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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.
There are also are two nice day walks connecting Mazeri with neighboring villages - Mestia and Etseri.

How to leave Mazeri:

There is no public transport to Mazeri. The closest road served by marshrutkas lies 7 kilometers away, at the mouth of Becho valley. Therefore, you may have to hire a taxi - the price of the ride to Mestia starts at 50 GEL (but can be also much higher, depending on the driver, situation and the level of your desperation).
There are also are two nice day walks connecting Mazeri with neighboring villages - Mestia and Etseri.


Description of the route

Trail parameters

Distance 16.2 km
Trail type: Roundtrip
Max. elevation: 2939m
Min. elevation: 1581m
Total climb: 1480m
Total descent: 1480m

The hike starts at the tourist pointer lying south of Mazeri village and is marked by white/red rectangles. The trail first heads southeast, to the Bagvdanari village where it turns east and enters Gulichala valley. Cross a bridge just beyond the village and continue along a 4x4 track up the valley.

After a while, you will reach a second bridge on the left (don´t cross it but go straight ahead). Here, the road turns into a rocky chute and climbs a bit until you find yourself on some kind of a plateau separating two riverbeds. This ridge soon turns into a large pasture from which you can see ruins of Gul village ahead (and if you look well enough, even the white pointer at the Guli pass far above). Follow the track towards the ruins. First, you will pass some completely destroyed houses, then a better-preserved church.

Keep climbing and one hour later, you will reach shepherd huts (well-known from numerous photos). Do not follow the signposts up to the pass, but head straight onwards past the huts and further up the valley.

From here, you can see the large moraine field of the Guli glacier beneath Mt Ushba. After some 100m, you will find a small spring. It is better to take water from the numerous springs near here, as higher up, the water running off the glacier has a lot of sediment in it.

Continue to follow the almost flat shepherd’s path, gradually approaching the Gulichala river. There is flat ground for a camp at this point. After reaching it, the trail starts going up – it follows the Gulichala river for about 500 meters, crosses several small creeks and then, once it reaches one at the altitude of 2580m, it follows it upwards in a series of switchbacks. Continue along this path until you reach the mountaineer's camp at the edge of the glacier – it is well-trodden and marked by stone pyramids so you shouldn’t get lost. At the camp, there are 2 to 3 spaces for tents as well as a symbolic cemetery with memorial plaques to mountaineers who perished on the mountain.

If interested, you can cross the moraine and venture even closer to the glacier, but be careful - the moraine is quite steep and there is significant rockfall during the summer. Once you decide you made it far enough, you can return to Mazeri by the same route.

Gabriel Khergiani route

While the trail to the Guli glacier is little-known in the hiking community, it's well-established among mountaineers coming to climb Mt. Ushba. Campsite by the symbolic cemetery serves as a base camp for those who would like to climb its south peak by Gabriel Khergiani route (difficulty 5B) which is, together with the "Normal route" (difficulty 4B) one of the most popular routes to the top.
The route itself is named after an excellent local alpinist who climbed it first in 1937 - in spite of the same surname and affinity to climbing, there is no known connection with famous Mikhail Khergiani. Gabriel then made his name during World War 2 due to the skill and bravery he showed in skirmishes over mountain passes with the advancing German army. He also took part in the 1943 expedition sent to take down the German flag hoisted at the top of Mt. Elbrus. After the war, he was struck by a tragedy when his eldest son drowned in the river. Since then, he started to isolate himself from people and preferred solo hunting trips in the mountains. During one of these trips, he found his death when he fell off the cliff.

A symbolic cemetery commemorating climbers who perished on the mountain


Where to stay in Mazeri:

Mazeri is, from the hikers perspective, the best village to stay at since it provides the best access to the hiking trails. Of the numerous guesthouses in the village, these are some of the better ones

Lia Jamdeliani´s guesthouse - traditional homestay established in the old house at the center of Mazeri (location on Booking.com is way off). Rooms and beds are quite basic, but this place is still a very pleasant - it has a nice, laid-back atmosphere. Moreover, the food is very tasty and abundant. The house is inhabited by friendly 3-generational family. When we got there, they were fully booked but offered us at least dirty, unused room at the upper floor (with a discount) with an option to move to the normal room on the next day.
Guesthouse Shuan - modern, very pleasant guesthouse at the southern edge of Mazeri village, close to the mineral springs. Malkhaz and Rita are wonderful hosts and in spite of looking new, the place has still retained its "family atmosphere".
Grand Hotel Ushba - first just one clarification, the name is a bit misleading - this is rather an upscale guesthouse. It is located few hundred meters north from Mazeri village which adds to the sense of isolation. Overall, it provides higher quality compared to other Mazeri guesthouses, but also for a higher price. It´s main assets are good food, nice rooms and very comfortable beds. And, of course, it´s co-owner Richard. This Norwegian academic knows about Svaneti more than you will ever need to know - if he is not around, check at least his books :).
Guesthouse Daeli - clean, renovated guesthouse located at the northern edge of Mazeri village. The staff is friendly and food good - overall, a very solid place to spend a night or two.

Views from the "campsite" on the ridge above the glacier

This trail was submitten by James Stearn, who walked in 2021 while planning to clib South Ushba by Gabriel Khergiani route. He walked around Georgia quite a lot - you can see photos from his trips at his website. He also contributed many photos. The title photo was taken by Martin Leskovjan, who actually finished the climb. Thanks a lot!




South face of Mt. Ushba Hike climbs Gulichala valley towards the glacier Ruins of Gul village ahead Shepherd huts beneath Ushba known from many photos Towards the Guli glacier Svaneti range from the trail to the Guli glacier Mt. Ushba ahead A symbolic cemetery commemorating climbers who perished on the mountain Views from the 'campsite' on the ridge above the glacier South Ushba seen from the base camp Camping by the Guli glacier elevation
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