I like to go hiking in Georgia. I spent a lot of time exploring the remote Svaneti region, where there are snow peaks, impressive glaciers and green valleys. Due to the mountain clan fighting between the 9th and 13th centuries, Svan built defensive stone towers. These grim towers are still an incredible sight. Hiking in the wild Svaneti is simply amazing.
The Svaneti region is the essence of the entire Georgia tour, and you must not miss the magical little village of mestia.
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How to reach Mestia
To reach the Mestia-Svaneti region from Tbilisi, you have three options:
- You can take the Tbilisi Mestia flight. Tbilisi to Mestia Svaneti. You will depart from Natahari airport. It will reach Queen Tamar Airport in Mestia, just 2.5 km from Mestia city centre.
- You can take martrushka from Tbilisi Central Bus Station. It takes 9-10 hours to reach Mestia.
- You can take the overnight train from Tbilisi to Zugdidi, which takes 8.5 hours, and then from outside Zugdidi Railway Station to take martrushka VAN to Mestia, which takes 3 hours.
The Svan tower
These sturdy towers are usually one for each household, and these towers are used by the Svan family to protect themselves, their farms and wealth from attacks by hatred and marauders, safe houses in harsh climates and harsh environments.
The Svan community uses its own language (Svan) and has a unique culture and history that is different from the rest of Georgia. He is very proud of this. Despite some misunderstandings about the Svan people, especially among urban residents, I found them warm, friendly, hospitable and trustworthy. I strongly recommend that you visit the local history and ethnographic museum Svaneti in Mestia to learn about their history.
Although many families moved out of the tower, they now live in houses near the ancestral Svan tower. But some tower visits still charge tourists a small fee. Today, the seasonal income of tourism and family hotels has become another important source of income for many families.
When hiking in the villages around Svaneti, you will see many Svan towers. Many remote towers have been abandoned with interesting folklore.
Hiking in the Svaneti
Although you can drive by car or rent a jeep to take you around, if you have a short time, you can only visit the svan tower in metia.
To truly experience the beauty of Georgia ’s Svaneti region, you must spend a few days hiking in its spectacular scenery. To hike, please visit between May and October, because even in late April, the roads and trails are still slippery, and sometimes they are impassable due to heavy snow.
Mount Ushba (უშბა) is the highest mountain here. There are two routes to choose from here.
- Hiking route from Mazeri to Ushba Mountain. This is a route that walks along the banks of the Dolra River and eventually reaches Ushba Mountain.
- Another popular trail near Mestia-this route is to explore the Mestiachala river valley. The natural environment near the glacier is really good.
I only took the Mestiachala river and reached Chalaadi Glacier. Below is the photo.
Ushguli is the highest village in Europe at an altitude of 2100m. It consists of four villages (Zhibiani, Chvibiani, Chajashi and Murqmeli), and is home to Svan towers, stone houses and guest houses, and small churches. There are about 90 families living here. During the six months of winter, the road to Mestia is impassable and completely isolated from the rest of the world.
Its narrow driveway, even until late April, was covered with snow. So you can only go there in summer. Ushguli is located at the foot of Skhara Glacier. The road there is muddy, and you can only ride a four-wheel drive off-road vehicle on the muddy road, passing towers and houses in remote valleys.