Four of the ten highest peaks of the Caucasus are located in the Svaneti region. For this reason, it is no wonder that the region offers great hiking opportunities. These are some of the best treks in the Svaneti Region.
1. Mestia to Ushguli
Distance: 57 km // Duration: 4 days
These are two of the most visited Svan villages, even though Ushguli is one of the most remote. If you plan to do it on your own, you will be glad to know that you do not need to carry a tent, as each night can be spent in one of the rustic villages along the hike. But if you prefer to camp in the wild, that is also possible.
2. Mestia to Koruldi Lakes (and return)
Distance: 25 km // Duration: 7-8 hours
If you plan to walk the entire way up to the lakes (2,740 metres) and back to Mestia (1,400 metres), it is better to start early in the morning, so that you make all the way back with daylight. Alternatively, you can also make all the way to the viewpoint platform (where you get 360-degree views of the Ushba and the Tetnuldi mountains) at the Cross by four-wheel drive or with a horse. Four-wheel cars also wait at the cross for any hikers who do not feel like walking the way back down to Mestia at the end of the day.
Walking the distance in one day is challenging but worth all the effort, as the peaks of mount Ushba finally appear halfway through the hike. Some hikers carry tents and sleep by the lakes. If you plan that, just make sure you have good warm sleeping bags.
3. Mestia to Chalaadi Glacier (and return)
Distance: 25 km // Duration: 6 hours (or 3 hours from the bridge)
You can reduce the hike by asking a taxi to drive you all the way to the bridge. The bridge is the point where the Chalaadi river merges with the Mestiachala river. From the bridge, you will follow up the Chalaadi river until its source, the Chalaadi glacier. Hardly three kilometres on an easy and soft ascent. Careful not to come too near the glacier, because there are always stones falling from higher points on the mountain.
4. Ushguli to Shkhara Glacier (and return)
Distance: 14 km // Duration: 6 hours
The trek starts at the lonely Lamaria church (2,200 metres) and follows the valley and the Enguri river which starts at the Shkhara glacier. It is an easy walk with hardly any ascents and the only difficulty will be some small river crossings, in which you either use the rocks over the river and jump from one to the other until the other bank or you remove the shoes. Not too complicated, the river is not deep. This is also a nice hike to do with a horse. The horses can reach very close to the glacier, where a tent serves drinks (no joke here!). Afterwards, the rest of the way until the glacier (2,500 metres) needs to be done on feet.
Before planning your hikes, check out which are the hazards and risks of hiking in the mountains.
Need a tip for a hotel?
We camped most of the nights that we spent in Svaneti. In Mestia, there is no lack of simple camping sites that offer little more than a comfortable hot shower. However, we also chose to stay in the cosy Hotel Tetnuldi on one of the nights, for some extra comfort… check the photos! 🙂