Gorges, passes and glacial lakes: top 7 best places for mountain hiking in Georgia

Which area to choose to travel in mountainous Georgia – the differences and features of Georgia’s mountainous regions.

Georgia has the best coronavirus statistics in the entire Caucasus region. Urgent measures taken by the Georgian government against the spread of the coronavirus have not left the epidemic a chance.

Take a trip to mountainous Georgia⬇️

Georgia is famous for its vast number of attractions.

Naturally, it is impossible to visit them all in one trip.

This article highlights the most exciting places to go on a trip through Georgia, both on foot and by car.

Upper Svaneti.

This is the most visited area of Georgia by tourists. Here you can see the panorama of one of the highest parts of the watershed ridge of the Caucasus: Bezengi wall with a height of about 5000 km, Tenduldi and the most recognizable peak – Ushba. Ushguli, one of the highest mountain villages in Europe, is situated between the mountains, protected by ancient tower-like structures. The spirit of modernity is also present in this picturesque place – they have recently built a ski resort, where you can come with your whole family and enjoy an active winter vacation.

You can get to Ushguli by car: there is a good road from Tbilisi to the very center of Mestia. If you don’t have a car, take an overnight train to Zugdidi, and from the station you can take a shuttle bus to Mestia.

The starting point of all treks in Upper Svaneti is Mestia. The duration of the tour varies – you can go for a light hike for one day or to make a 4-5 day trip to the mountains with overnight stay in tents or hotels of the local Svanetian settlements. On the way from Mestia to Ushguli tourists can see the magnificent Lardaadi Icefall, which is an unofficial attraction of the route.

Travelers who prefer transportation rather than hiking can rent an off-road vehicle and get to the beauties of Bezenghi Wall with a breeze.

Upper Svaneti

The full name of the region is Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo-Svaneti, and the folk name is the Georgian Alps. In the past, vacationers from all over the Soviet Union used to come here, and the popular mountain area used to receive more than 200 tourists a day. Now the attendance is much lower, so the infrastructure is developing at a slow pace. Trails for trekking without proper care are overgrown.

Restoration of the former momentum began in 2017, in Racha re-laying hiking trails and marking them, but this is only the beginning, and to date, the initiative has many shortcomings. For example, the marked route from Zesko to Gebi can hardly be called comfortable to travel: the trails are bad and in some places absent at all.

For objective reasons, Racha is in low demand among tourists; only prepared travelers looking for tranquility and solitude in the mountains should go here.

One of the places with a comfortable infrastructure is the resort of Chauvy. It is a great success among the locals. Shovi is a complex of sanatoriums, hotels, and trail routes leading to the mountains. You can get here by personal or rented vehicles, or by cab, as there is no public transportation to the resort.

Solitude in the mountains of Georgia

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Mtskheta-Mtianeti

A place that is home to a wide variety of hiking trails. Mountain regions of Georgia are not only the beauty of snow-capped mountain peaks, but also a variety of attractions, interesting villages and ancient fortresses. The most interesting areas in terms of tourism are first of all Mtskheta Kazbegi, located in the highlands, and Khevsureti.

The Georgian Military Road connects the two countries – Georgia and Russia, and passes next to Mtskheta-Mtianeti. The road is definitely worthy of attention, and not only for the impressive mountain scenery – there are many interesting places along the way. For example, the fortress of Ananuri and reservoir Zhinvali .

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A few words about Mtskheta . This is an ancient city, which once was the capital of the entire sunny Georgia, this fact alone already explains why it’s worth stopping here on the way to the mountains. Ancient monasteries and temples Svetitskhoveli, Jvari, Samtavro are witnesses of centuries-old formation of Georgia. The appearance of the city is pleasing to the eye, not so long ago it was carefully restored, it’s pleasant to walk here and enjoy the aromas of the highlands.

The river divides the city and Javani temple, which was once visited by Lermontov himself. The great Russian classic immortalized his impressions in verse form: “There, where, merging, they murmur, embracing like two sisters, the streams of the Aragva and Kura…” – these lines describe the stunning view from a hill at the confluence of the rivers.

Mtskheta center

Kazbegi

Kazbegi is the old name of the village Stepantsminda, it is located entirely on the mountainous terrain. A huge number of tourists come here for the beautiful views, camping and outdoor activities. Mountain climbers also love this place.

It takes only 3 hours to get from Tbilisi to Kazbegi, which lets you see these beautiful places in just one day. If you want, you can stay overnight in a guesthouse. The most visited attraction was the Gergeti monastery, which offers a panorama of Kazbek. The natural beauty has a calming effect, but the large number of people around can be disconcerting. If you want to enjoy the solitude, it is better to come to the monastery in the morning.

kazbegi-01.jpg

Khevsuretia

Many consider Khevsureti to be one of the most inaccessible settlements in Georgia. This is due to its location – there is no more remote mountainous region in the country. However, the harshness of the region is its advantage. Harsh living conditions are imprinted in character of local residents, Khevsurs. Inhabitants of plains are even feared by them for their formidable temper. The center of district is Shatili village. Road to Khevsureti goes by the Georgian Military Road – the easiest part of the road, then travelers have to overcome 100 km on dirt. It takes 3-4 hours on average to get there. Shatili is a fortress town, a great number of defensive constructions were built to protect against Chechen raids. The border between Shatili and Chechnya is very close and therefore conflicts between the two peoples are not rare. Another reason is religious disagreements. The unpredictable weather also makes the region very difficult. One must plan a trip with a few days reserve. You can stay in Shatili in one of the ancient towers that were erected more than 1100 years ago. The most favorable time to stay is summer, as there is no heating in the stone walls of the tower.

Passing Khevsuretiya, the road will take you to the medieval town of Mutso, which is enclosed by towers and a fortress. On the roof of the fortifications you can enjoy an unforgettable view.

Between the gorges of the mountains lies Hevsuretia. The main villages are located precisely in the hinterland between the stone giants. Getting to these remote places is difficult, public transport often bypasses these places. Only one shuttle bus goes to Shatili from Tbilisi, but on certain days. It is also possible to reach these places by jeep or off-road vehicles. During especially difficult weather conditions, the pass is closed, and food is delivered by a special helicopter. Conditions are especially difficult in winter, and many of the locals leave the area.

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Medieval town Mutso

Tushetia

Tusheti is one of the greenest areas located in the mountains. Its distinctive feature is a rich broadleaved forest, which is absent in Svaneti and harsh Khevsuretia.

Just like in Khevsuretia, Tusheti is difficult to get to. Only way to Tusheti is from Tbilisi, the way goes via Abano pass, which height is almost 3000 meters. It is necessary to drive very carefully, because of uneven terrain 70 km long road takes 6-8 hours. There is a seasonal restriction from July to September, at other times Tusheti is out of bounds.

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The territory of Tusheti is part of the Tusheti National Park – the largest in Georgia. This park is a living example of peaceful coexistence of people and representatives of Georgian fauna and flora in their natural habitat.

There are many ancient buildings, towers and authentic mountain houses. The center is the village Omalo, located on a plateau and surrounded by gorges. The images of the region are depicted in the movie “Mimino. It’s clear what impressed the director and the film-maker so much in Tusheti to depict it in the movie. And this is not surprising, because no one will remain indifferent to these views.

Tusheti

Adjara

Adjara is a neat center with modern high-rises, cable cars and green parks. Tourists come here for recreation in the mountains and on the beach. Another type of recreation is hiking in Georgia, which combines active recreation and admiring the beauty of the historical sites of this amazing country.

A popular mountain resort in Adjara is Beshumi. It is located an hour’s drive from Batumi. Now the infrastructure of Batumi has significantly improved, in addition to summer holidays, you can come in winter and visit the ski resort of Goderdzi .

You can also enjoy a walk in the national parks Kintrishi and Mtirala . Unique landscapes of subtropical forest are equipped for comfortable stay of tourists. Here you can eat in a restaurant, relax in a guesthouse, and, of course, visit the excellent hiking trails that even a beginner can do.

Mountain Adjara

Separately we would like to mention the largest botanical garden of Batumi in Georgia, located near the sea. You can visit the garden with your family and have a small but exciting adventure in the picturesque park, and then camp overnight on the beach in a tent.

Itineraries in Georgia: the best places in the country for hiking

Routes of trekking in Georgia - the best places of the country

Georgia – a relatively small country (its area is 69,700 square kilometers), which is a true paradise for connoisseurs of scenic nature and mountain hiking. Its territory is crossed by the southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus mountain range. When hiking here you can admire the picturesque landscapes with majestic mountains, vast valleys and alpine lakes.

At the same time, Georgia’s routes are easy to follow, selecting convenient points for overnight stays in medieval mountain auls. Georgia hiking trails are diverse and suitable for beginners and experienced hikers alike. Below are the most popular and most beautiful trails in Georgia.

Chauchi Pass.

This Georgia mountain trail is popular with locals and tourists alike. The hiking trail connects Kazbegi to the historical region of Khevsureti, one of the medieval regions of the country.

Routes of trekking in Georgia - Chaukhi Pass

When traveling along this Georgian route, you can admire beautiful views of the Chaukhi mountain range with seven picturesque peaks. But this trail is most attractive to tourists because of the opportunity to visit the Arkhoti Valley with its majestic gorges, beautiful waterfalls and a unique feeling of absolute isolation from the rest of the world on the way.

Colorful Lakes of Abudelauri

There are three picturesque colorful lakes in the Khevsureti area. This is one of the best places in Georgia for a weekend hike from Tbilisi. You can stay overnight at a guesthouse near the lakes or in a tent.

There are three picturesque glacial lakes Abudelauti on the southern slope of the East Caucasus, at the source of the river of the same name, at an altitude of 2812 m. The waters in one of these reservoirs are colored turquoise, in the second – emerald green, and in the third – snow-white. Their maximum depth reaches 3.8 m. These mountain reservoirs are fed by snow, melted glacial and rain moisture.

Itinerary of hiking in Georgia with photos and descriptions of places - Abudelauri Lakes

The Abudelauti lakes are located very close to each other, which allows you to visit them all in one day. To visit this natural landmark of Georgia, you should go from Tbilisi to Bariskaho village in Kvesureti, and then to Roska village, where you can hike to the Abudelauti Lakes themselves.

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This hiking route in Georgia covers about 7 km to the first two lakes. It takes another half hour to walk from them to the third lake (about 1 km).

This hiking route in Georgia is quite suitable for a day hike from Tbilisi. But you can also stay overnight near the lakes Abudelauti to have a good rest and fully enjoy the beauty of these places. It’s worth keeping in mind that the only convenient place to pitch your tent is near Green Lake.

Black Rock Lake

This natural landmark in Georgia is located in the expanse of the Lagodekhi National Park. The terrain here is very mountainous, so this route is more difficult, designed for experienced and physically strong tourists who are not afraid of ascents and descents on steep mountain slopes.

Georgia hiking itineraries with photos and site descriptions - Black Rock Lake in Lagodekhi

Lagodekhi is the oldest nature reserve in the country. On its expanse there are several popular hiking trails in Georgia, among which the hike to Black Rock Lake is considered the most attractive.

The path passes through a picturesque forest, where, if you are lucky, you can admire deer, chamois, or ibex. The lake itself is located at an altitude of 3,000 meters and impresses with breathtaking panoramas of the Georgian highlands.

Borjomi Kharagauli National Park

One of Georgia’s largest natural parks is famous for its primeval forests and vast variety of wildlife. There are 9 marked hiking trails in its expanse, among which the St. Andrew’s Path is the most popular.

Georgia hiking itineraries with photos and descriptions of places - Borjomi Kharagauli National Park

When hiking this trail in Georgia, you can admire the most scenic views and climb the park’s highest mountain, Sametsvario (Sametsquario). For an additional fee you can stay overnight in the tourist campsites of the reserve.

Lake Tobavarchili

This picturesque body of water is considered a true natural gem of Mingrelia. Its English name sounds like the “Silver Lake”. Lake Tobavarchili is located in the middle of the mountains Egrisi, and serves as a natural border of Upper Svaneti and lowland Mingrelia.

Hiking routes in Georgia with photos and descriptions of places - Lake Tobavarchkhili

Hike to it is considered one of the most difficult hiking trails in Georgia. It takes 3 days to get to the reservoir itself, but the surrounding beauty is worth the effort. This route in Georgia is also considered one of the most dangerous, so it is best to travel with an experienced local guide.

Mestia-Ushguli Route

This hiking route through Georgia is ideal for those who do not want to go far from civilization. The trail begins in Mestia, the center of Svaneti, and ends in the most remote village of Ushguli. On this relatively short trail you can admire many natural and historical sights.

Hiking routes in Georgia with photos and descriptions of places - Tour Mestia-Ushguli

Ushguli is one of the highest located villages in Europe. It is worth stopping in this village for a couple of days to walk around its surroundings and admire the spectacular views of Shkhara – the highest peak of Georgia and the third highest mountain in the Caucasus.

Omalo-Shatili route

Omalo is the central city of Tusheti, bordering Khevsureti. From here is the best route for hiking to Shatili, a mountain village in the historical region of Khevsureti. Both settlements have preserved medieval architecture.

Tour itinerary with photos and descriptions of places - Tour Itinerary Omalo-Shatili

In addition, when traveling between Omalo and Shatili, you can admire several other picturesque villages in Tusheti. The first part of this route passes through an inhabited valley, and then the wilderness begins, where you may still meet occasional shepherds and border guards. This route in Georgia also includes an ascent to the Atsutna Pass, which is 3413 m high.

Lake Kelitsad

This picturesque lake of Georgia is located near the border with South Ossetia, on a volcanic plateau, in the area of extinct volcanoes and volcanic lakes. The route to it begins in Truso Valley.

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Georgia trekking routes with photos and descriptions of places - Kelitsad Lake

But most of the way goes through the Keli volcanic plateau, a dry, rocky stretch of land to the west of the Military Georgian Road. The hike to Lake Kelitsad, as well as to Tobavarchili, is quite difficult. It requires at least 3 days to pass it.

Route Kazbegi – Gergeti Trinity Church

Stepantsminda village (Kazbegi) is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Georgia near Tbilisi. It is particularly attractive due to the impressive views of Mount Kazbek and the Gergeti Trinity Church, which is located right at the foot of the majestic mountain peak. The 14th-century church represents a single cross-domed temple in Khevi.

Tour itinerary with photos and descriptions of places - Kazbegi - Gergeti Trinity Church route

This hike through Georgia is fairly easy. The length of the route from the village of Kazbegi to the Church of the Holy Trinity of Gergeti is only 6 km. You can also continue it by going up from the ancient temple to the glacier.

The way from the village to the glacier is 22 km in both directions. In time such a trip will take about 9-10 hours. The way to the church takes about 1-1.5 hours.

The route Likani – Kvabiskhevi

In the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park there are several popular hiking trails, hiking along which you can admire the amazing scenery. One of the most popular trails is called the Footprint Trail.

This 13-kilometer trail in Georgia connects the village of Likani and Kvabiskhevi. When traveling along this hiking trail you can admire 800-1000-year-old trees and colorful flora. The trail winds along a serpentine mountain slope.

Tour itinerary with photos and descriptions of places - Tour Itinerary Likani - Kvabiskhevi

The first 3 hours of the hike the route runs along the Nicholas Romanov trail. Then starts climbing the Nakvalevi trail, which offers breathtaking panoramas.

Another hour of the trail takes you up the steep descent to the valley Kvabiskhevi. After completing the route you will have to walk about 1 km to the nearest village where you can stay overnight.

Spain-Kobuleti route

This is a popular route for a day hike in Georgia for those staying on the Black Sea coast near Kobuleti. It is a very short and fairly easy trail. It can even be conditionally called a hike, as it is just an interesting hike.

Itinerary of hiking tours in Georgia with photos and descriptions of places - Spaini-Kobuleti route

The trail passes by an observation tower and the so-called Smekalkova Canal. You can often spot a kingfisher or an aquatic turtle here. If the trail is too short, it can be extended by following the White Moss Trail.

The trail passes through the Shavi-Gole River, where you can admire rare species of flora and fauna of Georgia. During the blooming season, lilies, blackheads, and spring white blossoms bloom here.

Artsivi Canyon

This picturesque place is called “Eagle Canyon” in English. The route passes limestone rocks near the base of which you can see rare species of Georgia’s endemic plants, which grow on the rocky surface without any soil. There are several vantage points along the way, from which you can admire the white-headed vultures soaring over the canyon.

Tour itinerary with photos and descriptions of places - Artsivi Canyon

While hiking through Artsivi Canyon, you can also admire the ruins of the medieval fortified city of Hornabudzhi, known as Queen Tamara’s Fortress. This ancient construction is located about 3 km from the town of Dedoplis-Tskaro. The path to the fortress goes through a narrow forest path, which in summer looks like a natural tunnel.

At the end of the route you can see the fortress of the 5th century located on a steep cliff. You can also reach this area by car. But to get to the ruins of the fortress, you will have to walk a little. But as a reward for these efforts you will get a beautiful view of the Alazani Valley and the Caucasus Mountains.

Truso Valley

This is another popular route for a day hike in the Kazbegi area of Georgia. Truso Valley is located in an almost abandoned area on the border with South Ossetia.

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Georgia trekking routes with photos and descriptions of places - Truso Valley

In addition to the picturesque nature of the valley itself, you can admire the amazing travertine rock terraces, mineral and thermal springs and ancient towers, as well as visit several abandoned settlements. It is worth bearing in mind that it is not possible to walk the entire route through the Truso Valley. The path is accessible only to the border outpost.

Ninoshevi waterfall in Lagodekhi

There are several hiking trails in the Lagodekhi Reserve in Georgia. Black Rock Lake is best known among them. But it takes several days to complete this route, and the trail is very challenging.

Georgia trekking routes with photos and descriptions of places - Ninoskhevi Waterfall in Lagodekhi

The trail to Ninoskhevi Falls is more easily accessible. The length of this route in Georgia is only 8.5 km, and it takes about 6 hours to pass.

The narrow path to the waterfall runs along the Ninoskhevi River. The sound of the river, huge rocks, small waterfalls, and the cool breeze from the valley give this hike in Georgia a special charm. At the end of the hike, you can admire the majestic 40-meter Ninoskhevi waterfall, which is considered one of the most beautiful in the country.

Hada Gorge

This tiny gorge in the Gudauri Mountains is not one of the most visited places in Georgia by tourists, but the scenic views are worth a visit. In the old days, this natural landmark played the role of a kind of border between the South and North Caucasus.

Georgia trekking routes with photos and descriptions of places - Khada Gorge

There are 60 defensive towers in the Khada Gorge. There are also observation towers, ancient cemeteries, an amazing waterfall and springs with delicious mineral water.

The route through the Khada Gorge in Georgia begins from the village of Bedoni, just below the Pass of the Cross (Jvari Pass). Its length is about 8 km. On the way you can find many picturesque places to relax and organize picnics.

Lake Tbikeli

This is the highest lake in Georgia, is located at an altitude of 2200 m in the reserve Kintrishi, 60 km from Kobuleti and 8 km from the village of Hino. Hiking to Tbikeli will take several days.

Hiking routes in Georgia with photos and descriptions of places - Lake Tbikeli

But if you rent a jeep and get to the village of Hino (where you can stay overnight), from there you can walk to the lake for 1 day. The way from Hino to Tbikeli is 12 km. On this route you can admire the amazing landscapes of Georgia.

Lake Oreti

The route to Lake Oreti, located in Tusheti, is ideal for a day hike in Georgia. The length of this trail is 27 km. The route begins from the village of Kumelaurt, south of Omalo, and continues all the way to the lake.

Georgia trekking routes with photos and descriptions of places - Lake Oreti

The best time to hike this trail is early summer. Then you have the best chance to admire the full-flowing lake and the picturesque flowering vegetation in its vicinity.

Omalo-Khevsureti itinerary

Center of Tusheti – Omalo is ideal as a starting point for hiking in Georgia of different duration. The most attractive route is from Omalo to Shatili. On this route you can visit picturesque villages of Tusheti and stay in guesthouses of local residents.

Georgia trekking routes with photos and descriptions of places - Omalo-Khevsureti Route

The second part of the route passes through a semi-desert area with abandoned villages and ruins of medieval defensive towers in the Khevsureti area. In Khevsureti, as in Omalo, you can admire the medieval architecture, only with a slightly different look.

Shatili Yuta Route

Tour itinerary with photos and descriptions of places - Shatili Yuta Route

This Georgia hiking trail combines the districts of Khevsureti and Kazbegi. The path is quite difficult. It will take about 6 days to complete the entire route.

The path goes through the sparsely visited border areas of the country, especially in Agma-Georgitsminda. There are no roads and no signs of civilization, except for a few shepherds’ huts and a border post.

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