Last updated on 23th October, 2019

Hike from Mestia to Tsvirmi
by Enguri valley

A decent hike which follows an old track connectingg villages of Enguri valley.


Another route connecting Mestia with Tsvirmi village. This one crosses the Zuruldi massif to the Enguri valley and then follows it, passing several small, non-touristy settlements. The hike is decent, but not too popular and for a good reason - the majority of people going to Tsvirmi choose the higher, more scenic route by the Zuruldi range. Also, most of this "Enguri route" follows the dirt track which also detracts from the experience.
Therefore, there are only a few scenarios when I would prefer this trail - for example, in case of bad weather with low clouds. Or if the Hatsvali cable car is not running and you don´t want to climb to the top of the ridge. Or you can make a small, two-day loop - hike to Tsvirmi by one route and then, on the next day, return by another.
The route is also a popular pick for mountain bikers even though it´s certainly not a smooth ride.

Duration: 6 hours

Difficulty: Moderate/Hard

The trail looks on paper harder than in reality. While both distance and elevation gain are considerable, in reality, they don't pose much of a problem. Once you finish the initial climb to Heshkili, there is not much to challenge you. Also, the route is densely marked by white/red rectangles.

Which way to hike:

The trail looks on paper harder than in reality. While both distance and elevation gain are considerable, in reality, they don't pose much of a problem. Once you finish the initial climb to Heshkili, there is not much to challenge you. Also, the route is densely marked by white/red rectangles.


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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 ocassionally 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 - besically, 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.

How to leave Tsvirmi:

Leaving Tsvirmi might be problematic since the vilage lies away from the main "tourist route". You can ask around the village and you may be able to arrange a driver (the ride to Mestia could cost anout 80 GEL per car). Of course, it is also possible to pre-arrange the taxi while in Mestia.
Cheaper option is to walk another 2,5 kilometers to Ugviri pass and hitchhike there. The traffic there is quite dense and I never had to wait for more than 15 minutes for a ride.

Looking for a place to stay in Mestia?
Check this list of my favorite guesthouses.



Description of the route

Trail parameters

Distance 18,5 km
Trail type: AB trip
Max. elevation: 1980m
Min. elevation: 1385m
Total climb: 1253m
Total descent: 725m

The trail starts in Mestia. From the Seti square, walk to the south-east, cross a bridge over Mestiachala, turn right, cross Mulkhura bridge and walk past museum onto the road to Ushguli. Turn left and follow the road for some 200 meters till you will see a cablecar station on your right. Climb to the cable car and walk past it. The trail enters the forest, passes beneath the cable car line to the left and after a short but steep climb emerges onto the concrete road.

Turn right and follow the road for over two kilometers and when it turns sharply to the left, keep walking straight (there is a pointer saying Ieli). The dirt track will soon lead you to the Heshkili village.

This little-known village has recently become Instagrammer's hotspot ever since the owner of Heshkili huts compound installed swing in the garden (#heshkilihuts #cunningplan).

At Heshkili, you can enjoy first views of Enguri valley as well as of the Svaneti range behind it. These views also improve the ensuing walk on a somewhat boring dirt track - it's basically a car road but since it ends in Ieli, only very few cars use it.

From Heshkili, follow the road for more than five kilometers till it splits not far before Ieli village. The lower branch descends to the Ats village, the upper one continues to Ieli. Ieli is a sleepy rural village with several towers, an ideal place for a relaxing holiday. There is a guesthouse, but apart from that looks mostly untouched by tourism.

The road ends at the edge of the village. Follow the obvious path between houses and towers (there are also many markings to assist you). Walk past the church and then climb to the hiking pointer to your left. The trail then follows an unpleasant rocky chute that climbs slowly but steadily. Once it enters the pine forest, it turns into a nice hiking trail.

20 minutes later, look for an inconspicuous turn-off to the right. The trail then descends through the gully and navigates a young forest. Not much later, you will reach the fence, turn left and follow it for a while.

The trail then just traverses the hillside until it bypasses one last extension of the Zuruldi ridge and Tsvirmi village appears in front of you - this is also where the trail joins the route coming down from the top of the ridge. From here, just keep walking, pass several churches, water spring, and two guesthouses till you reach the hiking pointer in the middle of the village. But if you need to return to Mestia cheaply and on the same day, you may have to walk another two kilometers to Ugviri pass (included in GPS log, but not in trail parameters).

Where to stay in Tsvirmi:

In the past, Tsvirmi was visited only by few tourists and so it managed to retain a lots of its charm. However, that also meant that the offer of accommodation was very limited. The situation changed only in the past few years and nowadays, the village boasts at least 4 guesthouses. Only one of them can be booked online but even if it´s full, there are enough alternatives.

Shorena's guesthouse - added to Booking.com only in june 2019, but looking at the photos, I am almost sure this is the place where I stayed few years ago. This very pleasant homestay lies at the northern edge of the village, right by the trail descending from the Zuruldi massif. The family running it was really lovely and the food was good and plentiful. During my visit, their beds were somewhat saggy but I heard that this was also fixed in the meantine so now can be this guesthouse strongly recommended.




Trail in the Enguri valley Enguri valley Views from Heshkili village, Svaneti Road to Ieli Road to Ieli Not far before Ieli, the road splits Ieli village, Svaneti Rocky chute above Ieli Trail above Ieli Zegani village visible ahead The last extension of Zuruldi range Enguri valley Enguri valley Tsvirmi village, Svaneti Road to Ugviri pass
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