So, you are going to discover the mountains of Georgia. Typing into the searcher "hiking Georgia," Google helpfully displays popular routes in Megrelia and Upper Svaneti, one of the most picturesque corners of Georgia. Let's figure out what this region is all about and what preparations you need to make to get the most out of your hike.
Samegrelo – Zemo Svaneti is a region of western Georgia, within which you can relax both on the Black Sea coast and in the mountains of the Caucasus. The climate varies from subtropical to alpine, which means that it is quite mild and humid in the Black Sea coast, but in the mountains it changes rapidly and is characterized by strong temperature changes. So, going to hike, it is important to consider this fact and choose the appropriate equipment.
If you are an experienced hiker, you are familiar with the features of mountain hiking. If you are a beginner, the memory of the first hike will excite your mind for a long time. Only in the mountains can you feel the power of the universe and feel the breathtaking unity with nature! And not only because you will be at an incredible altitude, the mere thought of which already makes goosebumps run up and down your spine. Mountains are amazing with their shifts and contrasts: warm sun and frosty sparkle of snow, clear blue of the sky and impressive inevitability of clouds, monumentality of mountain rocks and pacifying rustle of green meadows...
But not only nature is worth the attention on the selected routes. The reign of Queen Tamara, which fell in the XII-XIII centuries, is considered to be the Golden Age of Georgia. During this period, the country (Kingdom of Georgia) experienced an incredible cultural and economic growth. So, when you make a hike through Georgia, you can really experience the whole range of contrasts that make up our lives. Ancient towers and age-old mountains, and among them – you, a modern human, embodying the latest achievements of civilization. What is this but the spirit of eternity, permeated by the passage of time?
Let's see what are the routes, what is the charm of each of them.
Cost: from $270 to $330
The hike to Svaneti is an activity for advanced hikers.
Each day you will have to walk an average of 8 km and climb about 800 m. However, do not let this scare you: experienced guide and good company – these are two components for successful hiking in the mountains of Georgia! Kuluar guides have extensive experience in hiking at various levels of difficulty. Equipment is also very important: comfortable shoes, appropriate clothing, a secure tent and – oh yes – sunscreen. More details about what and how to pack for successful hiking in Svaneti you can learn here.
The length of the route is 88 km and takes 9 days.
Choosing to hike in Svaneti, you will absolutely be able to put yourself to the test. This route involves climbing high altitude for 9 days. You will walk, carrying all your equipment on your back by yourself, so it is recommended to start strengthening your body with cardio-exercises (running, squats) to prepare before the hike. This is also good for preventing shortness of breath.
Also keep in mind that this is a mountain hike, and the weather in the mountains is capricious. Even if you go in the summer, it is possible to have wind, rain is very likely, and the temperature can drop to sub-zero at night.
Don't let all this scare you, however. The joy of hiking in Svaneti is that you can walk along the paths and sometimes even unpaved roads, which is much easier than wading through bad roads.
Svaneti is the only place where you can see huge icefalls. But don't worry, you won't be in danger – you will be able to observe this amazing natural phenomenon from a safe distance from the trail, without being at risk.
Even though there are not as many lakes on this trail as on the Megrelian one, their beauty is still worth seeing. You'll walk along the Svan Ridge, from where you'll have a chance to see the peaks of the Caucasus – centuries-old five-thousandths of the Caucasus with glittering ice caps, including Elbrus! They can be seen right from the trail. By the way, the pictures you take, you can upload to social networks, even without editing – nature is so fantastically beautiful that it does not require artificial filters. Just imagine how many bright shots you can make within 10 days of hiking!
And these are not just towers that stand as abandoned ruins somewhere in the outskirts of the city, where only the bravest of tourists climb. The towers will be found several times along the way: in Mestia, in the village of Adishi, as well as in the Ushguli community. There will be resting places in the villages, where locals will sell watermelons, vegetables and wine. Learn more about the route here.
The cost of a basic package for such a hike will be $270. To learn more about what exactly is included in the package price, click here.
Duration: 7 days, 51 km
Cost: from $260 to $320
For those who are not attracted by the prospect of long hikes with a backpack, we have simplified the route, leaving the most interesting places.
The hike lasts 7 days and is 51 km long.
About half of the route we hike light, without heavy backpacks. It's easy and pleasant.
Half of the overnights along the route are at campsites. There you can leave your things for the day trips, recharge your phones, and take a shower at some campsites.
The tour starts in Mestia: there you will stay in a guesthouse right in the center of town, and you will have a chance to walk around and eat national food. On the second day, you will see Mestia and the surrounding mountains from the top, and get a general impression of what exactly awaits you on the trek. Finally, the real journey with tents and crossings will begin on the third day.
During the hike, you will be able to see the Lardaadi Glacier – a unique sight! You will also see Mount Tetnuldi and Mount Ushba. On day 5 you will be able to see the Bezengi Wall – an amazing 13-kilometer mountain range, which, if obscured by clouds, strongly resembles the Misty Mountains from Lord of the Rings. So if you've always dreamed of feeling part of the Fellowship of the Ring, this Georgia hike is definitely for you.
In addition to the mountains, raging herbs and rushing rivers, you will see the Svan Towers – despite the harsh weather conditions, they are quite well-preserved and still remind you of the former greatness of the Kingdom of Georgia and the reign of Queen Tamara.
More information about the route and sights can be found here.
A basic package to do this trip will cost $260, and an Optimal package will cost $320. Learn more about the packages here.
Cost: from $290 to $350
If you like outdoor activities, you are not afraid of challenges, and you love bodies of water – think about visiting Megrelia, the southern part of Samegrelo, Zemo Svaneti region, which has many lakes and rivers.
The hike lasts 8 days and the length of the route is 52 km.
The climb on this route is not very high, but the places you have to hike through are wild, which means, taking into account the heavy backpack, the fatigue on this crossing will be stronger. You will encounter shepherds' and hunters' trails along the way, and in some places there will be none at all. Then you will have to hike straight through the grassy slopes, stones, so the trails are not for trekking at all. The scree is also possible, so you must have your helmets with you.
As the path will lie through the wilderness, you will not be able to buy any supplies on the way – you will have to carry everything with you.
The most striking feature that this hike gives, Georgia created slowly. And it's not the mountains. The advantage of this hike will be the opportunity to see colorful lakes – emerald, turquoise, blue. And it's all surrounded by a lush riot of fragrant greenery. You have to climb to the lake Tobavarchili, which is located at an altitude of 2650 m! Not everyone can boast of reaching such an altitude!
In early July it is still possible to catch ice-floes on the lakes and, if you are lucky, even to ride on them.
By the way, once our guide managed to put a tent and make a photo session on one of those ice-floes!
Besides the lakes you are awaited by wonderful rivers on the banks of which you will have a rest. Just imagine: far from vanity and care, you lie on a multicolored carpet of greenery, the sky above you is immense, there are ancient mountains around you, and water splashes somewhere nearby...
Besides, if you are lucky, you can meet shepherds who offer you a traditional Georgian cheese.
Also in this part of the region there are forests, where in the fall you can find hazelnuts, as well as edible chestnuts, which in Ukraine are considered a delicacy, but here they are literally lying underfoot! The place is simply magical: ivy-covered trees, moss-covered, bizarre boulders, leaves underfoot and berries, which can be eaten straight from the bush! Many kids would have liked to enter an enchanted forest of fairy tales or an ancient epic – now you have such an opportunity!
Moreover, on this route you can also see the highest mountain peak of Europe – Mount Elbrus!
The main climb is on the first day by transport. You will arrive at the place of the first night on the spurs of the ridge, and the next morning you will start your climb. Since the route does not involve settlements, all overnight stays will be in tents.
The final attraction, which you will see, will be the Inguri water reservoir – the biggest in the South Caucasus. And then you can go have a rest and bask on the sea!
The cost of the hike in the basic package will be $290 and $350 for the Optimal package. You can learn more about prices here.
Any kind of hiking is not an easy thing. They require endurance and perseverance.
We, modern people, are used to the opportunities of the city and are completely cut off from nature. But, finding ourselves in the wilderness, even on a proven, well-known route, we have every chance to restore this connection, and through interaction with the world around us to find ourselves again: renewed, strengthened, alive.
Georgia is an amazing country, where modernity meets eternity, the latest achievements of civilization neighbor ancient historical monuments. You can feel the spirit of the time on the move in Georgia!
Register for the route you like most, and welcome to Georgia!