Svaneti trekking tour€320


Overview

Again, we took a well-established trek, extended it and improved it as much as possible. In this case, even the "basic material" is more than solid - "Mestia to Ushguli" is the most famous Georgian trek, and for a good reason. It offers excellent views, passes through several traditional Svan villages and doesn´t involve any complicated logistics.

So what was improved? Most importantly, day 4. While the classic trail follows a river valley, we will take an alternative, virtually unknown route through the mountains and cross another 3000+ pass right beneath Mt. Shkhara (if you wish so, there is also an optionto ). Also, while many people after reaching Ushguli make a short stroll around a village and hurry back to Mestia, we think it would be a crime not to spend a night here. So we added one more day - you can use it to climb Svaneti or Chubedishi ridge so you can enjoy the whole panorama of Greater Caucasus.

Improved, extended version
of the classic trek

Three 2600+ mountain passes

Medieval stone villages
of the Upper Svaneti

Trek in the UNESCO Heritage Area


Date No. of participants Duration Deposit
18. 06. - 22. 06. 2024 8 - 15 (ALMOST FULL) 5 days not necessary
25. 06. - 29. 06. 2024 8 - 15 (ALMOST FULL) 5 days not necessary
01. 07. - 05. 07. 2024 8 - 15 (ALMOST FULL) 5 days not necessary
10. 07. - 14. 07. 2024 8 - 15 (FULL) 5 days not necessary
16. 07. - 20. 07. 2024 8 - 15 (AVAILABLE) 5 days not necessary
23. 07. - 27. 07. 2024 8 - 15 (AVAILABLE) 5 days not necessary
30. 07. - 03. 08. 2024 8 - 15 (AVAILABLE) 5 days not necessary
06. 08. - 10. 08. 2024 8 - 15 (AVAILABLE) 5 days not necessary
13. 08. - 17. 08. 2024 8 - 15 (AVAILABLE) 5 days not necessary
20. 08. - 24. 08. 2024 8 - 15 (AVAILABLE) 5 days not necessary
03. 09. - 07. 09. 2024 8 - 15 (GUARANTEED) 5 days not necessary
10. 09. - 14. 09. 2024 8 - 15 (AVAILABLE) 5 days not necessary
17. 09. - 21. 09. 2024 8 - 15 (AVAILABLE) 5 days not necessary
IF NEITHER OF DATES ABOVE FITS:
This tour can be organized also privately for any group of hikers outside of the dates listed above. In this case, the itinerary can be adjusted according to your wishes and group size limitation doesn't apply. However, there is one difference compared to the tour described here.
The route on day 4 - the alternative route through Lagem pass is still little-known and in Svaneti, there are very few guides familiar with it. Therefore, on custom dates, we usually offer classic Mestia - Ushguli route with sleepover in Iprali. But, of course, if you are interested in Lagem pass variant, len us know and we will try our best.

DEPARTURE / ARRIVAL: MESTIA

From Zugdidi to Mestia:
Marshrutkas to Mestia leave from Zugdidi every day, there is at least one in late morning and one in the afternoon. Morning marshrutka departs from the bus station situated by the bridge around 10 am (or even later if not full). Afternoon marshrutka waits for passengers of morning train from Tbilisi, which arrives around 14:30. Therefore, they wait in front of the Zugdidi train station. There might be some odd marshrutka in-between on you might get lucky and board marshrutka stopping at Zugdidi along its route to Mestia, but that cannot be guaranteed.
Either way, the price of the ride is 40 GEL and the trip takes almost 4 hours, mostly due to a rather large pause these buses tend to make around Khaishi.
If you get lucky or travel in a larger group, it could make more sense to secure your spot at shared taxi that depart from the station by the bridge (and in the afternoon from train station as well). The price tends to be 200 GEL per the whole car (50 GEL pp if the taxi is full), but varies depending on the situation. Trip is faster since any break is optional, takes 3 hours or so.

From Tbilisi to Mestia:
Few years ago, the best option used to be the overnight train to Zugdidi. However, it was cancelled in 2020 due to covid and there are no signs that it's going to be restored anytime soon. The only viable replacement used to be a long-distance night bus, which could also save you a lots of time, but won't be as comfortable as that cancelled sleeper train. Unfortunately, it seems that right now (summer 2023), they are not running them either, only bus leaving around noon, but it might be worth checking out Omnibus website to see if they were reinstated.
Currently, I would recommend the day train. It departs from Tbilisi at 8:20 and makes it to Zugdidi at 14:31, just in time to catch some of the last marshrutkas to Svaneti. The price of the ride starts at 16 GEL, which is less than 5 EUR. Tickets 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 15 days in advance, but it's not explained anywhere. So don´t freak out if you can´t buy your ticket online because of the "no tickets available", "trains not found" or some similar error. Just try later :)
If you fail to secure the spot on the train, you may be forced to take a 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 and there should be something from Didube as well. The price is 40 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 much less comfortable alternative for the day train.
If the are not travelling alone and don't mind spending some extra bucks, you might prefer a direct taxi. Those can be either arranged at bus stations or prebooked - looking at the prices of one of the most popular Georgian transport website, gotrip.ge, prices for the private transfer from Tbilisi to Mestia start at 650 GEL (230 EUR) for the group of 4.
The last option you could consider is 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).

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 is the direct minibus (the price is 40 GEL) departing from the station behind McDonalds. There is a fixed departure between 9:00 and 10:00 am, but if you want to secure your spot, better get there at 8:00-8:30 since it's popular among tourists and will depart much sooner if full.
According to locals, if this marshrutka gets full and leaves before 9:00 am, they will send another one. If it gets full later, they might not.
There may be also others during the day if there are enough tourists, but I wouldn´t rely on that. If you miss them and there is none other direct bus available, look for a marshrutka to Zugdidi (price 10 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, you also have some options. If you are travelling alone, you can arrange a transfer to Kutaisi at Georgian bus stand (5 GEL or so) and take marshrutka from there. Or, if you are willing to spend extra money and save time, find someone to share taxi with. It's actually pretty easy - do you see any people with hiking backpacks? If yes, there is a pretty high chance they are heading to Svaneti so this is a great chance to save some money and get to know some people.
If you are not alone and travel straight from the airport, you might want to book your taxi in advance. In this case, at gotrip.ge, prices of the transfer from the Kutaisi airport to Mestia start at 340 GEL, which is actually pretty solid. If you haggle with taxi drivers loitering around the airport and don't look to desperate, you might get a better price, but not by much.

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.

DIFFICULTY:
This is a trek of a moderate difficulty. The basic Mestia - Ushguli trek is not hard but we give option to use a more scenic (and difficult) alternative. Therefore, you need to be fit and used to hiking - you should be able to walk 6-7 hours a day for a several days. On some days, you will have to cover significant elevation difference, like 1000m up and down - nothing a fit tourist wouldn't handle, but someone without training might struggle. You also should be used to some steep uphill walking and have good hiking shoes. If you are not sure if this trek is for you, please contact us and we will try to find out :)

LUGGAGE:
Luggage transfer is not included. However, not much stuff is needed for this trek since guesthouses provide you with food and beddings. Mostly just some food and water for the day, valuable personal belongings, extra socks/base layer if you sweat a lot and protection from rain (which hopefully won't be needed). And also something warmer with long sleeves because evenings and mornings in the mountains are often chilly. Basically, what you would take a dayhike plus an extra underwear.
An extra luggage can be usually left at your Mestia guesthouse and collected after the trek.

Itinerary

Day 1 From Mestia to Zhabeshi
distance 16.1km, 763m and 523m

First day of the trek mostly follows the dirt track which snakes through the pastures and slowly climbs onto forested Chkhuti ridge. Then it descends into Mulkhura valley, passes several beautiful villages, crosses the river and ends in Zhabeshi. Night at the Zhabeshi guesthouse.

Day 2 From Zhabeshi to Adishi
distance 10.6km, 909m and 527m

Before noon, steep climb towards the Tetnuldi resort. Then, a walk through the alpine pastures will take you to the Adishi village, hidden at the bottom of Adischala valley.

Day 3 From Adishi to Khalde
distance 16km, 860m and 900m

Trek deeper into the valley, towards Adishi glacier. Crossing of Adischala river with the assinsance of a horse and climb towards Chkhunderi pass (2600m). Descent to Khaldechala valley. Night at the Khalde guesthouse.

Day 4 From Khalde to Ushguli
distance 14.5km, 1070m and 1118m

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 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 Inguri 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, where you will explore the village and then have dinner at cozy local guesthouse.

Day 5 Trip to Svaneti range
distance 9km, 810m and 810m

After breakfast, you will get an opportunity to climb one of viewpoints around the village. The most popular trail heads south, towards the Gorvashi pass, but there will be also an option to climb Chubedishi viewpoint northeast of the village. 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 own program. For example, if you are interested in 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 previous four days. Either way, you will meet all again around 3 pm and be transported back to Mestia.



NOT INCLUDED:
  • Travel insurance. You will need to arrange a travel insurance. On my trekking trips, I use SafetyWing travel insurance
  • Snacks and alcoholic beverages
  • Boredom


WHAT HAPPENS AFTER YOU BOOK THE TOUR:

If you consider joining one of our tours, you should understand how our booking process works - so what happens after you fill in that form to the right.

  1. First, you need to register for a tour. We don't collect deposits at this stage but expect clients to fill in the form only in case of serious interest, after they have everything sorted out and are positive that they will be able to participate.
  2. We will send an email asking you to confirm your email address, to establish contact and be sure that we received valid address. Once confirmed, we will put you on the list of participants. Then, after the tour meets minimal threshold of required participants, we will send you another e-mail, inform you that the tour is guaranteed to run and if deposit is necessary, ask for it.
  3. After all participants sent deposit payment, the tour is green-lighted and we start with necessary arrangements.
  4. If there are still not enough participants one month before the start of the tour, we inform you about the situation and offer to run the tour at the increased price. If all participants agree to it and make a deposit, the tour goes ahead - and, of course, if more people book during the last months before the tour, the price goes down correspondingly, but at some moment we need to decide if to run it or not. If participants don´t agree with the higher price, the tour is cancelled and, if there is interest, we can work with them on some individual programs.


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