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 depart daily, 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 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:
Apart from a taxi, there are two options. Marshrutkas depart from the main bus station. Unless you are lucky, you will have to switch the bus in Zugdidi (you may have to wait for several hours there), so this ride will take a better part of the day. The first bus should depart around 9:00 am, then there should be another one at 9:30 am.
Another option is the direct transfer provided by Budget Georgia. The price is 80 GEL, which is not that expensive compared to the price of marshrutka. Just better contact them before paying anything, because booking link on their web directs to another tour costing 130 GEL.

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 before the hike?
These are 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.

Finished the hike and looking for more?
Here you will find all hikes around Mestia



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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