The most popular multi-day trek in Georgia and for a good reason.
Trek from Mestia to Ushguli is the most popular multi-day hike in Georgia and for a good reason.
It is not too long, takes only three to four days to finish. Being neither too easy nor too hard, it poses a challenge but you don´t have to be a hardcore trekker to finish it. It´s also easy to arrange, offers excellent views and passes through several traditional Svaneti villages (with guesthouses - so you don´t need a tent). And if four days of trekking are not enough, you can easily extend it an adventure almost two weeks long and explore other, less touristy parts of Svaneti.
A good walker with a tent could comfortably finish this trek in three days, but if you want to sleep in guesthouses, you probably need to split it into four days. Unless you are a really fit and fast - in this case, you can do the whole trek even in two days (with sleepover in Adishi).
The first and last day are quite easy, but on both days between you will have to overcome considerable elevation.
Tent is not necessary; it´s possible to spend nights in guesthouses. Also, you don´t have to worry about food too much - they serve breakfasts, dinners and can also prepare (usually somewhat underwhelming) lunchbox.
The season for this trek is from the beginning of June till late October. Each period has its pros and cons. In June, one can enjoy green scenery with blooming flowers,
but there is a reason why everything is green and it has something to do with rain. In October, you can admire colorful autumn foliage, but days are already much shorter and colder.
Also, in the second half of the month, one can expect first severe snowfalls.
The best time to visit is during July and August, but that's when most people visit. Therefore, I personally prefer middle of September - weather is still nice and as a bonus, the trail is free of crowds.
I would also like to address one question I get very often - people coming in May often ask me if it is "possible" to finish the trek at this period. I find it very hard to answer. Trekking in sub-optimal conditions means the higher chance of the accident and who am I to decide if this still worth to risk it or not? Especially when I have no idea who is asking. But to give at least some answer, first hikers who manage to finish Mestia - Ushguli trek usually do it between 20th and 30th May. How you use this info is up to you.
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 8:40 and makes it to Zugdidi at 14:34, 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.
If you need to return to Mestia, your best bet used to be minivans making day trips from Mestia to Ushguli. They usually had a few empty seats on the return trip which occured around 3 pm. .
However, in the past years, drivers became reluctant to bring hikers back since the Ushguli drivers try to claim all hikers that reached village on foot and other drivers don't want to have problems with locals. So don't rely on these buses too much.
So what to do? You can either take a taxi from locals (costs as much as 40 GEL per person) or walk on the road towards Iprali and once the village is out out sight, try to stop some minivan with daytrippers, that should be a bit cheaper.
This one is tricky :) But if you are trekking in July or August, you should - and I am saying it as a person who loathes booking more than 2-3 days ahead. Good places along the trail tend to fill up fast, especially since many of them got registered on booking portals. And while locals are masters of improvisation and will eventually find you some place to sleep, it may not be the most comfortable option. So, if you want to play it safe, you can book online several long time ahead - at the end of each day section, I included a couple of places which I recommend.
A compromise might be to ask your landlord in Mestia to make the booking for you, they have the necessary contacts and might be able to arrange you a room at some smaller places which have no online presence. And even if this fails, you can always try to leave earlier in the morning and reach your destination before crowds arrive, so you will have more places to choose from.
Hard to tell right now. In past years, the trek was pretty popular, with 100-150 trekkers starting from Mestia each day during the summer season (Jul-Aug). But then COVID turned things upside down. There was some rebound during 2023 season, but it´s pretty obvious that the numbers of tourists haven't reached the pre-covid period yet. So, if you have that opportunity and want to experience the most popular Georgian trek how it was years ago, not as crowded and with guesthouse owners genuinely happy when they see a tourist, 2024 season is your best bet.
Is the trek safe?
Trek is as safe as it can get in Georgia. During the season, there are dozens of people each day so if something happens, help is not far away. Most of the time, you will have cell coverage. The trail is well-trodden and not that difficult. You won´t see any bears, wolves, vipers or aggressive shepherd dogs. Also people are mostly nice :)
Still, if there is one group I would like to warn, it would be solo women. If you take care, you will be fine - it´s not that there are some aggressors lurking in bushes . But I prefer scaring hundreds of people if it helps to prevent one unpleasant encounter. And heard about some isolated incidents of harassment, so it´s always better to mitigate the risk. Sleep only at official guesthouses with other hikers around. Do not accept invitation from strangers and don´t drink alcohol with them in private, especially if you are the only woman around. And if you want to feel safer on the trail, stick to other people. So, nothing special, just a common sense - simply do not put yourself in a position where you would be vulnerable.
How much money shall I need?
If you do return to Mestia on day 4 (so no extra night at Ushguli) and pick cheapest guesthouses, you should be able to limit your spending to about 450 GEL (about 150 EUR). That includes 3 nights at guesthouses with half-board, river crossing, some snacks and the ride back to Mestia in shared taxi. Of course, better take twice as much, one never knows what happens along the route. Also, keep in mind that Mestia is the last place with ATM, anywhere beyond, you will need cash.
What do I need for Mestia-Ushguli trek?
Just stuff you need for dayhikes. Guesthouses provide blankets as well as all food so you will have you carry mostly clothes you won´t wear during the usual hiking day. That means rain jacket or raincoat, some warmer clothes for chilly evenings, extra socks, underwear, T-shirt and sleeping clothes. You will also have to carry a few liters of water, some snacks, sunscreen and so on. All of this should comfortably fit into 25-30 liters large backpack.
Which way should I hike?
People usually start from Mestia because Ushguli is a great place to finish the trek - and it's infinitely more fun to journey somewhere where you haven't been yet than drive from Mestia to Ushguli and then return on foot. Also, it's easier to cross the dangerous stream beyond Adishi which should be done in the morning, when the water level is lower (later during the day is rises due to the melting glacier). If you come from the direction of Ushguli, you will reach the river in the afternoon and can end up like this...
Still, with the growing popularity of the trek, also the opposite direction starts making more and more sense, especially if you don't like crowded trails. If you hike in the opposite direction than most, you will meet almost all other hikers in a span of one or two hours and for the rest of the day will have the trail for yourself.
Can I hike even if I don´t have proper hiking shoes??
Quite popular question since there are many people who don´t come to Georgia for trekking but would like to do the hike. Trek can be certainly finished even in sneakers but it´s not the optimal solution since some parts of trail are slippery and muddy. Better bring some good walking shoes (even if you don´t plan to hike) but if it´s too late for that, this is one of treks where the lack of proper shoes doesn´t constitute an unpassable obstacle.
Where can I leave my luggage in Mestia?
Surprisingly, there is no luggage storage in Mestia. Still, if you can´t hike with all your luggage, there is an option. If you spend a night at a local guesthouse, you can ask your landlord to store your excess luggage. It´s a common practice and landlords usually offer this service, especially if you book one more night on your way back.
I come to Mestia by first morning marshrutka. Can I start trekking on the same day?
Not anymore. Since the night train from Tbilisi to Zugdidi got cancelled, first marshrutka departs at 10 am and not at 6 am. Which means that you will arrive at Zhabeshi after 2 am. In theory, you could still make it, but it would be extremely rushed. It´s better just to stroll around the town, get rest after long drive and have a nice dinner.
Day 1: MESTIA - ZHABESHI distance 16.1km, 763m and 523m
The trek starts on Mestia's main square. Leaving it through the gate by the new Queen Tamar´s statue and turn right. Follow the street to the river, cross it and turn left - this is where the marked route starts. The trail here turns into a dirt track. It climbs slowly passing the Hotel Tetnuldi and later a row of wooden chalets to leave Mestia behind. Then you will pass a huge construction site on your right (supposedly a new hydrocentral).
After a while, you will see ruined buildings ahead. Before you reach them, turn right uphill. After gaining some 50 elevation meters, the dirt track becomes more pleasant again - it goes through the light forest and over pastures from which you will have a nice view of Mt. Ushba.
Eventually, you will reach a meadow with the another pointer. It will divert you from the dirt road onto a short, but very steep trail through the forest. You should reconnect the road in less than 10 minutes. Here, turn right and walk another 300 meters until you see a huge meadow on your left - a perfect place for a break.
Ten minutes after leaving the meadow, you will reach a viewpoint with a beautiful view of Svaneti valley dominated by Mt. Tetnuldi peak. You are at the highest point of today's walk.
From here, the track goes down into the valley. Ten minutes later, you will reach a spot where a small trail branches off to the left, little uphill and into some bushes, while a large track keeps going down. Here, you need make a decision - there are two ways to enter the valley.
The trail often seen as "the classic one" follows the large track downhill. Soon, it sharply turns to the right and descends into Zardlashi village. Here, it turns east again and follows the large track through Murshkeli villahe to Zhamushi, where is reconnects the upper trail.
The upper trail to Zhamushi
This trail is more interesting, but also a bit harder to follow. Follow the small trail to the left through young forest and past a small construction site. Soon, you will reach a transmitter - this is where now already obvious track turns south and rejoin the classic trail. To stay on the upper trail, look for a faint trail to the left and walk through the meadow straight towards the Lakhiri village. The detour was worth it - Lakhiri is one of the most charming villages in Svaneti and yet almost untouched by tourism. Here you will finally turn right and descend to Zhamushi to rejoin the classic trail.
From Zhamushi, the trail continues further east to Cholashi village - this village is not too interesting, but one can find here a moderately popular beer bar.
Spreading the wealth
If you are looking for an authentic experience with a minimum of other tourists, you can have it even on a trek as busy as Mestia - Ushguli. Just spend a night at villages such as Lakhiri, Zhamushi or Cholashi. Noone even stays there, everyone rushes to Zhabeshi/Chvabiani and locals are very happy for each hiker (however, the level of service may vary). You will also help to descrease regional differences where one village gets all tourist money and others very little. And don´t worry that you will have trouble finishing day 2 - it´s not that long and easily doable even if you spend a night around Zhamushi.
After Cholashi, the trail bends south towards the Mulkhura river. Once, there was a small trail following it´s northern bank to the bridge further to the east so hikers approached Zhabeshi village from the north. But since it was heavily damaged during last year´s floods, it´s recommended just to cross the bridge south of Cholashi and head straight for the villages. The first one is Chvabiani, further lies Zhabeshi and both have many decent guesthouses.
Day 2: ZHABESHI - ADISHI distance 10.6km, 909m and 527m
Walk uphill (south) along the stream flowing through the village until you cross it next to the last house and tower of the village.
Follow the path which passes the house and tower in western direction, cross the belt of trees and reach a junction. Here, you will find a pointer - the trail to Adishi is to the left. If you slept at Chvabiani, you can reach this junction by a short walk southeast from the village, no need to make a detour through Zhabeshi.
The trail turns south-east and climbs over a series of pastures and through a light forest. Cow trails might sometimes create confusion, but the main route is marked, well-trodden and should be easy to follow. Behind you, views of the valley open up.
After around two hours of climbing through dense, low forest you will reach the cable car line belonging to Tetnuldi skiing resort (but you are already quite far above the bottom station).
Follow the road and skiing track uphill. After some 20 minutes, roughly at 2500m altitude, a marked trail (Hadiish) branches off to the south-east.
The path crosses open areas with nice views and wildflowers and then slowly descends into the forest. At some point, before crossing a stream, there is a small bar where you can buy some refreshments. Less then an hour later, you reach Adishi. The village is hidden below the slope and you will see it at the last possible moment.
Upper trail do Adishi
If you want to enjoy even better views and escape crowds for a while, this trail might a good alternative. Compared to the classic trail, it starts further uphill, some 200 elevation meters higher, close to the exit station of the lowest cable car line, the only one which works in summer. Because of this, it may be a good idea to buy a ticket (should cost some 10 GEL). The entry station lies some 800 meters downhill from the place where the trail from Zhabeshi enters the ski resort so you will have either to backtrack or choose a diferrent trail from Zhabeshi, which climbs straight to the entry station (starts at a waypoint named "Turn left" in the gpx log).
This upper trail traverses the base of Tetnuldi mountain through open grasslands. Finally, it turns souths and then comes a steep descent to Adishi. Overall, I think it is a pretty good way to prolong this, otherwise quite easy, hiking day. The only disadvantages are that the final descent could be pretty hard on your knees and there is no bar on this route.
Upper trail to Adishi, Georgia
Day 3: ADISHI - IPRALI distance 18.7km, 860m and 1069m
Another day and another tricky part in the morning - fording of the Adishi river. During the main season, when many hikers leave Adishi to Iprali,
you can expect people with horses waiting at the crossing to shuttle you across the river. The usual price is 20 GEL per person.
Outside the high season or if there are few hikers, it is good to ask around in the village about the water level and hire a horse if necessary - several locals offer this service.
Leave the village by a path heading by the river to the east, to the foot of Adishi glacier. After one hour the path ends in a river - you will have to ford it. During the season, there are usually several locals from Adishi with horses which offer transport, However, they charge 25 GEL or even more per person which is, considering the duration of the ride, usually quite a ripoff (unless the water level is high, then it´s worth every penny). Before you pay, I recommend to walk some 50 meters upstream where the river branches a bit more and check if you can cross on your own - that doesn´t mean it´s always possible, but it´s worth checking out. The water is freezing so you won't be able to spend too much time in the river. Wear hiking sandals and use hiking sticks. But don't take any unnecessary risk and use a horse if you don't feel confident.
Behind the river, the path appears again. After 2 hours of climbing through the fields of rhododendrons, you should make it to the Chkhunderi pass (2655m) -
it offers great views of surrounding mountains and the Adishi glacier.
If the weather is nice, you can leave your backpack at the pass and walk along the ridge north-east towards the glacier - there is a small hill with the altitude of 2800m which offers even better views of the glacier. The whole detour takes less than half an hour.
From the Chkhunderi pass, the trail heads straight down into the opposite valley. Down in the valley, you will find a couple of huts which can provide shelter in case of rain.
Turn right, the trail to Iprali which follows the Khaldechala river is mostly downhill and quite obvious. To Iprali, it should take another 2 hours of walking.
About halfway lies Khalde village, known as a centre of anti-Russian uprising in 1875-76 (when it was, as a punishment, razed to the ground). Only a couple of families live here, running three guesthouses. Khlade is a great alternative to Adishi, off the main road and with wonderful views. It also allows to split the difficulty of the trek more evenly into days, which is generally good unless you need to reach Ushguli early on day 4 and catch afternoon shared taxi back to Mestia. Khalde is also good sleepover spot if you want to try the new, more scenic route to Ushguli - crossing Lagem (also known as Southern Karetta) pass or simply spend a night somewhere more remote.
Day 4: IPRALI - USHGULI distance 12.4km, 677m and 436m
Nowadays, most of the people trying to get to Ushguli hire a car or walk on the main road. It's a pity because that road is quite busy and lined by electricity poles.
Luckily, there is an alternative, much more interesting route. How to find it? Leave Iprali village and cross Khaldechala river by a bridge. Right behind it branches a track to the left which is a nice shortcut to the Davberi village but as of 2021, it was blocked by a fence with barbed wire - I think that sooner or later, we can expect 2 GEL "entry fee" sign here. But until then, we need to take a longer detour and follow the main road for about 10 minutes, till you reach a small stone footbridge under imposing Davberi village (there is also a hiking pointer). Climb to the village and by a local church turn right onto the steeply climbing trail. There is a signpost showing you the way to Ushguli so you shouldn't get lost.
Once you reach the altitude of 2100m, the trail becomes more pleasant - from now on, it essentially traverses the hillside. The marking is sparse, but most of the time you can see barely visible remains of the sledge track so you shouldn't get lost. There is only one junction in the forest where the trail forks - take the left branch, the right one soon disappears.
Two kilometeres before the Ushguli village, the trail merges with the main road. However, it's quite dusty because of passing jeeps so I prefer to spend on it as little time as possible. The better way to reach the village is to turn after 500 meters right, onto a trail heading to Murkmeli, one of four communities forming Ushguli. Pass the village (least affected by tourism, with many houses in derelict state), cross the bridge and follow the trail on the other bank of Enguri till you make it to Chazhashi hamlet, more or less the center of Ushguli.
Attention! Exit is paid, private property, 1 man 2 GEL
In 2020, this noticeboard appeared on the gate at the entrance to Chazhashi village - entrance free 2 GEL per person. I am not sure if this is the best way to monetize passing hikers but I am not here to judge, just to inform. That if you take the trail through Murkmeli, you may have to pay. If you don´t want to, you will walk final mile of the trek on that dusty road :/
You should arrive at Ushguli in time to catch shared taxis which take daytrippers back to Mestia (and manage a short walk around the village). However, if you have an extra day, it's much better to spend a night there as the best views of Shkhara are in usually in the morning (as on the photo below). You can use the extra time to climb to the tower above the village or for
the walk to the Shkhara glacier. But, in my opinion, even better views offers Chubedishi viewpoint to the northeast of the village.
Iprali - Ushguli "the hard way"
If you are fit and would like to see as much as possible during your 4-day trek, you might also consider a route through Latpari pass. Looking at the map, it´s quite a detour, but a very scenic one. This route has two different halves. The first one is quite boring, since you just follow a dirt track starting beneath Davberi village that climbs south, towards the Latpari pass (2830m). The second half is great - you traverse the Svaneti range, enjoy 360° views and then finally get down to Ushguli. When compared to Lagem pass variant, this route is longer, but also much more approachable, following either dirt road or a well-trodden track. Just keep in mind that unlike normal route, this hike takes the whole day - expect to spend night at Ushguli since you almost certainly won´t reach it in time to catch afternoon taxis back to Mestia.
Together with neighbouring Chvibiani village, Zhabeshi offers numerous guesthouses - maybe this competition is the reason why they mostly manage to maintain the high level of service. Since there are so many, usually there is no need to worry about an accommodation here, something will be always available.
Vodo´s guesthouse - a pleasant homestay located in Chvabiani village. In spite of recent renovations, has still managed to retain its authentic spirit. The lady running it doesn´t speak English but is very welcoming and works hard to make her guests feel comfortable. Moreover, she is a great cook.
Lali´s guesthouse - a popular guesthouse lying in the eastern end of Zhabeshi village, not far from the river. Its good reputation is well-deserved cos this guesthouse does almost everything right - rooms are clean, beds comfortable and bathrooms have enough hot water (which is not always the case in other guesthouses). But the greatest asset of this guesthouse is its owner which is very welcoming and also a great cook.
Irina´s guesthouse - another high-quality homestay located in the middle of Chvabiani village. The interior looks a bit "rustic" and "lived in", but it only gives place more charm. Irina speaks English and has the good attitude, ready to help you with any issues you might have. Also, she is a wonderful cook.
Adishi, the most isolated village on the trek is the notorious pain point. The village is quite small, there is only a handful of guesthouses and these mostly had no online presence so booking far in advance always posed a problem. Moreover, several of these guesthouses are at best average - the facilities are very basic, food only decent, prices quite high and the owners are often moody, sometimes very friendly and sometimes not so much (the only bright exception being Panorama guesthouse). However, considering the amount of hikers which come here only to spend a night and leave after breakfast, it's not that surprising. Here are some of the better guesthouses where stayed either me or my friends. There are also others, but I have no feedback about them - feel free to write me how you like them :)
Panorama guesthouse - Hands down the best (and most expensive) guesthouse in the village. Opened only in 2019, owners Tamara and Davit decided to bring services provided in Adishi up to the next level. Guesthouse is known for delicious food, comfortable beds and modern bathrooms with hot water. And, of course, both owners speak fluent English and do their best so their guests feel like at home.
However, there is a downside. Since these owners are not locals, guesthouse is not open all year round, only during the season. And sometimes they open quite late, for example, in 2023 they opened only on 4th August.
Elisabeth Kaldani's guesthouse - large, blue-painted wooden guesthouse situated at the bottom part of the village. Until recently, this was the only guesthouse in Adishi available on Booking.com so was always packed with hikers. Several of my friends stayed here and while they weren't particularly impressed, it was "good enough". Elisabeth speaks basic English and works hard to keep the place running and clean. Earlier, I heard some complaints about the food being only average but since the covid hit, the quality of cooking has greatly improved.
Tarzan & Nino - Pleasant guesthouse ran by a friendly older couple - this is where I stayed during my Adishi visit. While the beds weren't too comfortable, the food was good - if you don't expect luxury, you should like this place. Contact: (+995) 790 870794.
Gunter Avaliani guesthouse - Classic Adishi guesthouse, ran by Gunter, his wife Zaira and their daughters Nana and Jameki. The house is old and facilities very basic, but the family is really friendly, they even sang and played music for and with their guests when my friends stayed there (but that depends on the mood, don't expect it each evening). Also, the meals are excellent. Contact: (+995) 598 477180 (Nana speaks also English )
Khalde, a razed village once known only as a short stop along the Mestia - Ushguli route is rapidly gaining popularity also as a place to spend a night. The reasons are simple - ambience and location. Khlade, situated much deeper in the valley, simply has better views and less traffic compared to Iprali village further down the road. This is reflected also by the local offering - in 2023, a third guesthouse was opened in the hamlet and it is certainly not the last one.
Century House of Larissa - Guesthouse Khalde, the oldest guesthouse in Khalde rebranded, bought new beds, refurbished bathroom and operated under a new name. Rooms are rather small and basic, but otherwise, it's a pleasant place to stay - good shower, tasty food, friendly hosts and overall good atmosphere, and all that for a good price.
Speaking of that price - night with a half-board costs 85 GEL per night, which is a pretty fair. I just don't like the structure - dirt cheap night stay (30 GEL) compensated by overpriced breakfast and dinner (25 & 30 GEL). Budget traveller who sees only the price of the night might arrive expecting that the rest is cheap as well. And it is not.
Gaul Gavkhe - of all places along the Mestia-Ushguli route, Khalde would be the last where I would expect such a luxurious guesthouse, but here we go. Opened only in July 2023, Gaul Gavkhe offer the accommodation level above anything else on the trail - large modern rooms, very comfortable beds, private bathroom. A great place to splurge but keep in mind that with a price of 75 GEL per person (food costs extra), it's about twice as expensive as some ordinary guesthouse.
Iprali is the another village which, until recently, offered only a very limited accommodation - essentially, almost all hikers stayed at Ucha Margveliani guesthouse. Luckily, in the past few years were opened several new and pretty decent places which give Ucha´s run for its money.
Betegi guesthouse - a new guesthouse strategially located at the beginning of the village. The place was opened only in 2018 and it shows, it looks new and clean. The owners family is very friendly and the food superb. The only drawback are somewhat thin walls between rooms and the fact that there are only two bathrooms. Still, it is certainly one of the top guesthouses in the village, if not the best one.
Robinzon guesthouse - Another pleasant, family operated guesthouse. Situated in the old, but recently renovated house, so now it has new beds, wooden facade and plastic windows. The place is clean and the owners Giorgi and Katia work hard to keep it that way, food is also very good. But, again, when the place gets full (20+ people), you may have to wait for a while for one of two bathrooms.
Ucha Margveliani's guesthouse - And last but not least, Ucha´s, the largest guesthouse (or rather a hotel) in the village, able to accommodate 50 people or even more. The place has a long tradition and it shows - the staff, while not too friendly, is professional and the food, while not extraordinary, is hearty and filling. Rooms are also nice and beds comfortable. The place would not be my first choice since it kinda lacks character but saved loads of people - the owners are good at finding that one extra spot for some hapless guy who trekked without prearranged accommodation. Contact: (+995) 599 250578
There is certainly no lack of choice in Ushguli - every other house got already got converted into a guesthouse, not counting those newly built. Below is a short list of places where stayed either me or my close friends and can be recommended. But, of course, there are also others, many just as good as the ones below.
Just keep in mind that prices advertised on booking portals are not always consistent with what you will be charged, since almost all visitors take not just an accommodation, but also a full pension. Keep this in mind and agree upon the price of food beforehand, so you won't be surprised later.
Mshvidoba guesthouse - budget homestay located at the heart of Zhibiani community. The place is not too large so it keeps a "local feeling". The family running it is really friendly and Laila is a great cook.
Hotel Nato - wonderful small guesthouse situated in the Chazhashi village, not far from the bridge. Owners Nato and Emzar are very friendly and will make sure that your room is warm even if there is cold outside. They don't speak English, but their son does. Also, food was tasty and plentiful.
Guesthouse Miranda - small family guesthouse situated at the northeastern side of the village, cose to the Lamaria church. Very friendly owners, food providing, overall good value for money. Has mix of older rooms and modern ones with private bathrooms. On the downside, if you are visiting outside of the summer season, rooms can get a bit cold cos supplied electric heater is not strong enough (unless they upgraded since 2019).
Guesthouse Gamarjoba - one of the oldest guesthouses in Ushguli, located at the northern end of the Zhibiani community, right by the church. The facilities are a bit dates, but the beds are comfortable, blankets warm and the guesthouse is overall clean. The meals are also pretty good. One of great assets of this guesthouse are people running it - Temraz and Lela Nijaradze are very friendly and welcoming hosts and their daughter Mariam also speaks English. In the house lives also Temraz´s quirky brother Fridon, who is a painter and turned one of the rooms into a small art gallery.
Booking: email@example.com or send them a message via their fb page.
Photos of Ushba and Tetnuldi are published with kind permission of Пабло Наумкин.
Also thanks to Břetislav for his cool photo of Adishi glacier. Several other photos were provided by Oriol Girona, Josef Formanek, Jozef Strezenec and me.
Four photos were provided by Jordan Atkins. More of his photos of Svaneti can be found at his web Inspired by Maps.