If you want to see the Caucasus, if you are active and like to be one with nature, go trekking in Svaneti, the Land of the Golden Fleece. The highest inhabited point in Europe, surrounded by 4 of Europe’s 10 highest peaks, Svaneti is a land of dramatic beauty. Upper Svaneti, UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a mythical place dotted by medieval villages and evocative tower-houses. You will trek to Ushba, Tetnuldi and Shkkhara, Svaneti’s stunning glaciers and visit Ushguli, the highest settlement in Europe. You will be guests in small villages and experience the life of Svans, the proud “people of the mountains”.
Duration: 11 days / 10 nights
Beginning and Finish: Tbilisi
Accommodation: Tourist hotels, camping (4 nights)
Food: Breakfasts, meals duration trekking
Mode of travel: 4WD vehicles/ on foot
Tour Support: Tour leader/ driver fluent in English, local mountain guides
Included: Accommodation for 10 nights in tourist hotels and camps (camping gear provided)
Meals as specified in the itinerary
Tour leader/ driver fluent in English, mountain guides
All activities as per itinerary with all entry fees
All transfers in 4WD vehicles
Travel permits in protected areas
Excluded: Optional activities
Depending on your arrival time, there may be some time for leisurely exploration on your own in this wonderfully colorful city. You can visit the Old Town, with its churches, monuments, famous sulfur baths and wooden houses with carved balconies. The architecture of the city is varied with neo-classical, Russian, Middle Eastern and Byzantine styles. If we have enough time you can visit the largest Christian church in the Caucasus, the Holy Trinity. In the evening we brief the trek crew.
Overnight: Hotel in Tbilisi
From Tbilisi we fly to Mestia. Svaneti is one of the highest mountain ranges in the Caucasus. Unique architectural and ethnographical heritage, traditions dramatic landscape, mountain picks and glaciers are an attraction not to be missed. Located in the heart of Svanetia, Mestia is the cultural heart of Svans, proud “people of the mountains”. Upon arrival in Mestia, we check in at our hotel and proceed to explore Ethnographic Museum located in a traditional Svan tower. Here we will see invaluable gold and silver items collected at various times: icons, ornaments, stamping, hunting accessories, military armor, coins. All these treasures were voluntary offers by parishioners in favor of churches (according to the ancient tradition of highlanders of Georgia). A special place is given to the richest collection of ancient Georgian manuscripts of the 9th – 11th centuries. Other highlights include medieval stone houses with the watchtowers in Mestia, one of them is restored and open to the public.
Overnight: Hotel in Mestia
After early breakfast we start our 4WD trip to Village Mazeri close to Mount Ushba. The village is located at 1699 m and offers fascinating scenery with the twin peaks of Ushba at 4 690 and 4 710 metres in the background. From here we will start trekking to Ushba (4710m), one of the most stunning glaciers in the Caucasus. We will walk along a path leading to the southern slope of the mount and Guli Glacier located at 2900 m starting from the Ushba peaks. Today we trek around 8-9 hours. We will spend the night at camp at about 2900m on the south-eastern side of Ushba. In the morning, we start the full day trek up the pass and down to Mazeri where our 4WD vehicles awaits us to take back to Mestia.
Overnights: Camp at Ushba, Hotel in Mestia
In the morning transfer to Mulakhi community famous for its multitude of medieval watchtowers located in the gorge of Mulakhura River. From here we trek the foot of Mount Tetnuldi at 4975 m. Crystal rocks marking our way to Tetnuldi, have given a romantic name to the mount – Tetnuldi, White Queen in Georgian. The mountain is permanently covered with abundant snow and ice which makes for a beautiful and tough trek today. There are several glaciers coming down from the peak of Tetnuldi. We trek around 8-9 hours. In the evening after full day of activities we have a well deserved dinner and overnight at camp. Weather permitting we will have an evening sharing impressions by a crackling campfire.
Overnight: Camp at Tetnuldi
After breakfast at camp we start our 4-hour trek to Village Adishi, crossing a foot-bridge over the right tributary of Adishistsqali River (2,030 meters). Adishi at 2121 meters above sea level is one of Europe’s highest mountain villages. Trekking is around 4 hours. Today 6 of the once 60 families that used to live here still remain, but more families and people return in summer. The mountain village has very much kept its medieval identity and lifestyle. We explore the village, chat with friendly locals and have dinner at a farmhouse with traditional Svan delicacies (and possibly Svan polyphonic singing).
Overnight: Camp at Adishi
From the mountain pass at Adishi we descend along the ridge to the basin of the Khaldeschala River. At 2,400 meters the road forks with one path leading to the East and the other – to the South which we take. After descending to 2,200 meters, we approach the Khaleschala and follow along its right bank up to the village of Khalde (1,900 m). Khalde has somewhat of a tragic history as the famous site of rebellions against Tsarist Russia recalled by Svans with great respect. This is probably longest trek, we trek around 8-9 hours. We camp at a convenient spot in Khalde Valley.
Overnight: Camp at Khalde Valley
Today’s route begins in Zihibiani, the highest and most remote village of Ushguli community (2400 meters). The route features some of Ushguli’s most unique architectural and religious monuments, as well as the striking beauty of the area from Ushguli to the source of the Enguri River in the Shkhara glacier. We have amazing views of Mt. Shkhara at 5201 meters, the highest summit of Georgia and the greatest attraction for mountaineers visiting the Caucasus. The route is 9 kilometers long and varies in elevation by 300 meters, it takes about 6-7 hours.
Overnight: Guesthouse in Ushguli
In traditional Ushguli, we find ourselves among medieval towers, roaring waterfalls and dramatic peaks of the Great Caucasus Range. Time free to explore the village and back to Mestia by jeep following Enguri river, en route visiting St. Barbare and St. Kvirike shrines, crossing traditional villages of Ipari and Kala.
Overnight: Hotel in Mestia
Morning flight to Tbilisi, free day to rest and enjoy the city on your own. In the evening, you may want to contrast your active experience with some cultural experiences – Rustaveli Drama Theatre has a good reputation and is particularly renowned for Shakespeare productions. Nabadi Folk Theatre where a show of music, dance and song about Georgian legends and culture await us is another possibility.
Overnight: Hotel in Tbilisi
Departure Next Day