Walking in the Caucasus Mountains

After a few visits to the country of Georgia, we developed our best itinerary for a walking holiday in the Great Caucasus Mountains, Svaneti area. We spend a good amount of time crossing the country from the East to the West and from the North to the South: exploring the hiking trails of the Upper Svaneti area, following parts of a challenging long distance trekking route – The Transcaucasuan Trail (TCT); did a couple of ascents of Mount Kazbek; visited the famous Gareja Monastery Complex near the Azerbaycan border; the Black Sea Coast and, of course, the cultural sights of the capital of Tbilisi, the old capital Mtskheta and many more…

 

We believe that our itinerary is well balanced – one can enjoy the wild, undeveloped mountain areas of the Caucasus without being out of its comfort and acceptable risk zone. The difficulty level is medium, with a single day of more than a 1000 m of ascent, but we are able to offer adjustments in both directions – making the trip easier or more demanding. We follow walking trails without any specific difficulties in the terrain like rock fields, scree, etc. Our trip is not only a hiking holiday but a good introduction to the local Georgian and Svan culture, history and daily life.

 

Please follow the link to find the detailed itinerary for an 8-day walking trip in Georgia or scroll down to the bottom of this page, after the brief illustrated description! Please Contact us for availability and costs, the second depends on the number of days and the group size.

 

Read more about walking in the Georgian Caucasus by The Guardian.

 

After the arrival to Georgia and transfer to the Upper Svaneti area,  we start our trip by visiting the stunning Ushba Waterfalls, located at the foot of the Ushba Peak. At the foot of the main waterfall one can feel the strong cold breeze coming from the tons of water dropping down…

The biggest of the Ushba Waterfalls

 

We spend the night in a mountain hotel in the Becho Valley.

 

On the next day we climb the demanding Guli Pass, under the foot of Ushba. Quite often we get the best views of a mountain from another, smaller mountain, next to. This is exactly the case today – magnificent views of Ushba, Tetnuldi and the opposing Layla range.

 

The Ushba Peak seen from Guli Pass – a well deserved panorama!

 

The descent goes through the flower gardens of Svaneti, which include the beautiful Rhododendron flower. The Southern slopes of Caucasus are prone to subtropical climate influences and because of that have extremely rich biodiversity.

Descending Guli Pass – all the blossoming flowers look so unreal at a height of nearly 3000 m, that make you feel like somebody planted them deliberately near the trail…

 

We finish in Mestia – the local capital. A slightly relaxing day follows – crossing the Zuruldi Range. From the next day we`ll follow the most interesting parts of the famous Mestia-Ushguli trek.

 

The village of Tsvirmi – quite a contrast between the snow capped severe peaks and the green villages, surrounded by farm land

 

Well have another day of great variety – walking through the Adishi village in the foot of the highest peaks of Georgia:

 

The village of Adishi – a typical Svan settlement where each family has its own defense tower in the yard

 

Adishi Glacier and the main ridge of Caucasus near Chunderi Pass. Russia is on the other side

 

After visiting the famous Ushguli village, we finish the trek back to Mestia, by visiting some of the cultural sights around it. Drive back to the town of Kutaisi for outbound flight or extension to the other parts of Georgia – Tbilisi, the Black Sea coast, Kazbek area…

 

Please Contact us for availability and costs, the second depends on the number of days and the group size.

 

Detailed itinerary:

 

Day 1: Inbound flight to the town of Kutaisi, Georgia (please check options below). Located in Western Georgia, the town is a hub for the low cost carrier Wizzair and also the most suitable point to start a trip to the Svaneti area of the Great Caucasus.

Transfer (4,5-5h) to Mestia – the „capital“ of the mountain area of Svaneti in Caucasus Mountains and main base for walking and trekking in the Upper Svaneti area. Accommodation in a hotel in the town.

 

Wizzair flights from/to Kutaisi*:

London Luton – Thursday and Sunday
Berlin Shonefeld – Monday, Wednesday and Friday
Milan Malpensa – Monday and Friday
Thessaloniki – Tuesday and Saturday
Warshava – Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday

*The flights schedule is subject to change so please check the Wizzair website for up to date info.

Possible inbound to Tbilisi with an additional 4,5h transfer to/from Kutaisi.

 

Day 2: Short transfer to the Becho Valley, the village of Mazeri, walk up to the Ushba Waterfalls. Option for a longer walk to the Ushba Glacier. Accommodation in a mountain hotel in Mazeri.
Total for the day, depending on the option: 4,5 to 9h, +500 to +1300 m, 10 to 19 km.

 

Day 3: Mazeri – Guli Pass – Mestia. A strenious day, but a rewarding one – we climb up the panoramic Guli Pass (2960 m), which brings us very close to the rocky walls of the peak of Ushba – a symbolic mountain of the Southern Caucasus. With its 4700 m of height, steep faces and unpredictable climate the peak is considered one of the most difficult one to climb in Caucasus.
Descent to the Koruldi area, drive down to Mestia (45 min). Accommodation in a hotel in Mestia.
Total for the day: 10 h, +1400/-600 m, 14 km. Option for a transfer in the morning in order to save some power.

 

Day 4: A relaxing day after the yesterday challenge: short drive up to the Zuruldi chair lift, ride up to 2400 m. Walk along the low, but very panoramic ridge of Zuruldi with a final descent to the remote village of Tsvirmi and approach the area of Tetnuldi. 30 min transfer to our accommodation in Tetnuldi. Accommodation in a hotel.
Total for the day: 4h, +200/-500 m, 7km

 

Day 5: Tetnuldi – Adishi village – Chunderi Pass – Khalde village. Today we`ll follow the most beautiful part of the popular Mestia-Ushgui Trek. The day offers us a great variety of landscapes – panoramas towards the highest mountain range of Georgia, along with a visit to the remote village of Adishi. We`ll cross the Adishi River on the back of a horse and climb the pass of Chunderi – the closest point to the main ridge with views towards Adishi Glacier, the Bezengi Wall, the highest peak of Georgia – Schara (5193 m).
Accommodation in a local guest house in Khalde village. WC/shower on a shared basis, dormitory rooms.
Total for the day: 9 h, +700/900 m, 15 km

 

Day 6: Khalde-Ushguli. 1h transfer to the village of Ushguli, probably the most famous in the area because of its location high up in the mountains, at 2300 m.a.s.l. Walk up to the Schara Glacier and back. Accommodation in Ushguli – a local guest house, WC/shower on a shared basis, dormitory rooms. Option for a more strenious walk up to the Mapchrani Range.
Total for the day: 5 h, +400/-400 m, 8 km

 

Day 7: Mestia – a 3h transfer back to Mestia. 2H visit to the museums of the town, walk around the main sights. The Historical Museum of Mestia has a rich exhibition that would tell us a lot about the history and everyday of the local Svan people. The museum of the local alpinist Michail Chergiani will let us to see the mountain and the history of alpinism in the area through the eyes of the great climber. Transfer to Kutaisi – 4,5-5h. Accommodation in a hotel in the town.

 

Day 8: Visit to Kutaisi. Time permitting, visit to the Gelati Monastery near Kutaisi. Departure flight.

 

Optional extensions:

+ 3 days:
Visit to the capital Tbilisi and the famous Gareja Monasteries at the border with Azerbaycan.
Visit to the Black Sea coast – Batumi area.

+ 5 days: Tbilisi and the area of Mount Kazbek – the Gergeti Church of Tsminda Sameba, one of the symbols of Georgia.

 

The trip is available between July and September.

 

Author: Lyuben Grancharov

“The World is a book and those who do not travel read only a page” (Augustine of Hippo). I enjoy filling up the page, called “Bulgaria”, both working as a guide and writing about the mountains of Bulgaria on this blog.