Travel to Svaneti, Georgia

Svaneti Georgia: 20 best sights

Svaneti – a remote mountainous region in northwestern Georgia, for a long time generally isolated from the outside world, so here is well preserved traditional way of life. Picturesque valleys covered with alpine meadows, mountain rivers flowing down rough and rumbling, snowy peaks above 5000 meters – all this is Svaneti. The land is as wild as it is beautiful. This is a gorgeous place for trekking, mountaineering, horseback riding and other activities.

Svaneti

In this post I will tell you about places of interest in Svaneti, where to go, what to see, and I will also share some useful information about how to get there, how to travel and where to live.

Read a detailed post about how to arrange an independent trip to Georgia here .

I wrote about where else to go in Georgia in detail in this post .

When traveling to the mountains, insurance is not superfluous. You can arrange it in 5 minutes online here.

Svaneti Georgia

Historically and geographically, Svaneti is divided into Upper (Zemo-Svaneti) and Lower (Kvemo-Svaneti), and they are separated by the Svaneti Range. All the main attractions and interesting places that travelers now visit are in the Upper, the center of which is Mestia.

To the north of the valley rises the Main Caucasus Range and the border with Russia, to the west is the Kodori Gorge and the border with unrecognized Abkhazia. So, from all sides this area is surrounded by mountain ranges and mountains, and the only normal way to get here is through Zugdidi, along the valley of the river Inguri. There is also a road from Kutaisi through Tsageri – Lentekhi – Ushguli, but it is in very poor condition and is only passable by off-road vehicles in summer.

In 16th century after the collapse of the Georgian kingdom, the western part of the valley was subordinated to Dedeshkeliani princes, and the eastern part remained independent – it is also called Free. Therefore, in this region has preserved the traditional way of life, some even consider it a stronghold of Georgian traditions.

Attractions of Svaneti

Svaneti

Quite an interesting people has inhabited these lands for a long time. The Svans have their own Svan language, although they also speak Georgian. Surprisingly, the Svans did not have serfdom, and besides they did not wage wars, they were only defending themselves. The Svans were the only mountain people of the Caucasus who built temples and painted icons, many of which can now be seen in museums. Arts and crafts have always been well developed in Svaneti: wood-carvers and smiths made dishes and other implements of wood, copper, silver, gold and bronze.

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Svaneti

Svans at grazing cattle

Svan towers

Now there are about 175 towers preserved in Svaneti, the locals call them “cats”. There are still disputes about the purpose of these towers: defense, storage of food, dwellings. In Mestia many towers are beautifully illuminated in the evening.

Svaneti Towers in Mestia

The towers of Swan in Mestia

Koruldi Lakes.

A group of small lakes at an altitude of 2700 meters above sea level, not far from Mestia. It takes 4-5 hours to get here, gradually gaining altitude along the trail. The lakes offer wonderful views of the surrounding mountains.

Read also: Coruldi Lakes – a detailed description of my one day hike

Chalaadi Glacier

You can take an easy walk to the glacier and find out how the rivers begin. The elevation difference is not very high, so this trek is much easier than to the lakes – there will be snowy peaks and forest around, inside the glacier you can see a small ice cave.

Ushguli

Ushguli is the highest permanent human settlement in Europe (2,200 meters). You can come to this place by jeep on a gravel road or come on foot from Mestia (3 days). This is the most popular route in Svaneti, where many travelers seek to get. From Ushguli it is not far to the source of the Inguri River and Mount Shkhara. Here you should definitely see the Svanetian towers, ethnographic museum and, of course, enjoy the wild highland nature.

Becho

Becho community is located in a valley of the river Dolra not far from Mestia. From here one can see majestic Mount Ushba and from the village of Mazeri start climbing to the top. Nearby you can go to the waterfalls and a glacier, you can even go to Mestia through the pass in 9 hours.

Ušba as seen from Mestia

Latali

Latali community is located 9 km west of Mestia, just along the main road. This place is spiritual and cultural center of Svaneti. In the Middle Ages there were over 60 temples in Latali, each belonging to one family. About 30 have survived until now. In Latali there are also Svanetian towers, several mineral springs nearby, it is possible to go trekking in the surrounding mountains. To this day, gold is still being washed in these places, some tourists manage to take part in the process.

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Svaneti photo

Mulahi

In Mulakhi you can see the towers of Svaneti and the church of Christ with paintings of the 13th century. From the village of Zhabeshi starts the trek to Ushguli, to the Tetnuldi Glaciers and to Ushba.

Ipari

Ipari community is located on the road from Mestia to Ushguli, the most famous settlement is Adishi. Here is located Church of St. George, which is revered by Svans, and three other temples. From Adishi begins the ascent to Mount Tetnuldi.

Kala

Almost deserted community, only a few houses are inhabited at the confluence of the Inguri and Khaldes-chala rivers. Here you can go to 11th century church Kvirike, the biggest in all Upper Svaneti. From Kala to Ushguli is only 6 km, you can walk a few more hiking routes.

As you can see, the main attractions of Svaneti are spectacular nature, mountains, Svanetian towers and medieval churches.

Hotels in Svaneti

There are no problems with accommodation in Svaneti, in many villages you will find a place to stay overnight. The biggest choice is in Mestia, a little less in Mazeri and Ushguli. The most popular option is guesthouses or gesthouses: in one house there are several rooms for guests. Typically, the toilet will be one per floor, although it happens in the room. Usually in the hostels live and owners, so you can still have a nice talk. In addition to overnight accommodations, they can offer meals, which is a good idea because there are cafes and restaurants only in Mestia, while in smaller villages it’s difficult. Plus, all the food is homemade, natural.

Just a house in the woods.

By the way, many houses are combined with Svanian towers, some of which are converted for sleeping, you can get and such an unusual experience.

Often, in the yard you can stand with a tent, in Mestia there are especially many such offers, there are whole campsites formed during the season.

Find and book hotels and guest houses in Svaneti:

Transportation

The trip to Svaneti takes quite a long time, if you do not intend to hurry – the places are suitable for meditative contemplation. You can get to Svaneti by plane from Tbilisi and Kutaisi or by shuttle bus from Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi and Zugdidi. Detailed schedule of all options for getting to Svaneti with timetables and prices at the link below.

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Already in the region for short distances you can and should walk, still there is an opportunity to rent horses for 35-40 GEL per day.

For travelling to surrounding communities and villages you need to hire expensive four-wheel drive cars, since the roads in Svaneti are not very good. Approximate prices are as follows (per car there and back):

Mestia – Ushguli: 200 lari Mestia – Becho: 120 GEL Mestia – Jabeshi: 80 GEL Mestia – Latali: 50 GEL Mestia – Adishi: 150 GEL

Theoretically there are shuttles between some villages, but it’s from the realm of fantasy, we haven’t seen any. Locals themselves hitchhike, it’s normal here, so you can try it too, but traffic is low.

Read also about the mountains in Georgia:

Svaneti on the map of Georgia

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14 Comments

Good day! Please advise, we will fly to Georgia in late May for 20 days, we have 2 children, we want to see a little Svaneti. By the way, the kids have grown up in hiking) But, we were told that at this time (late May – early June) ticks and mosquitoes, infection carriers, are active) How dangerous it is, what can be used to protect and what can you say about the time selected for small treks in Svaneti? Thank you)

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Valentina, you can use spray against ticks (there are some special and universal sprays, I can’t tell you the exact brand), and to look around regularly, use closed clothes, so there is no problem, I think. The weather will probably not be very stable, it can be very warm, but it can also rain. Overall, it’s a normal time, there might be a lot of water in the rivers, but I do not think it will bother you much, especially you are used to mountains :) But it’s less crowded than in July and August.

Where can you find this hotel on Airbnb or through Hotellok?

Natalia, it’s on Airbnb. But I wouldn’t recommend it directly, there are better places in Mestia. We just booked at the last minute in August, all the best value for money places were already taken.

Thank you for the option, it’s no problem to understand everything on the spot, but I would like to know everything beforehand, so that if something happens I can book a room at an adequate price. Would you tell where you lived in Mestia? Is it convenient to stay in Mestia and go hiking every day, such as the Chalaadi Glacier, lakes, skiing resort and so on?

Natalia, we stayed at Nikala Hotel, it’s on the way to Chalaadi Glacier right after the bridge over the river. If you choose hotels (not campsites), I advise to choose gesthouses with svan towers, it will be an interesting experience :) Mestia is just perfect for making radial outings to the surrounding beauties.

I’m very grateful for very informative post, could you tell me if it’s possible to rent a tent somewhere in Mestia and how much it would cost, if you know, and I don’t understand where to find camping suggestions?

Natalia, here’s a camping site that can be booked on the booking service. I’m sure there’s more, look for the cheapest options, they usually go just with living in a tent. It’s probably possible to rent a tent, but I haven’t found out. If anything, there’s a tourist office near the main square in Mestia. The guys there are great, they will tell you everything in detail.

On 09.05.2018 we were in Mazeri. Drove the car (Suzuki Jimny) to the bridge over the river: 43.100998, 42.595962. We had all-wheel drive for the sake of decorum, but we could do without it, because the main thing was to have high ground clearance, as there were potholes, puddles and rocks on the way. From there in the rain we went in the direction of the waterfalls. We went at our own pace for 3-4 km to the next bridge, but it was ruined by the river, so there was no road further on, so we turned back. On the way back the rain stopped, the fog cleared, it became even more beautiful. The route is very picturesque, but at this time, there is slush and snow underfoot. In summer, it must be absolutely gorgeous. Separately about the road to Mestia. We drove from Tskaltubo by rented car (on the way we also turned to look at Inguri dam). The road, of course, is beautiful (in good weather), but not easy: there are holes in the asphalt (if you don’t slow down, you can just leave the front axle in them), sometimes rockslides, cavings, ditches, some places with rocks of a decent size, apparently, blown off the tops, animals (cows, horses, pigs) crossing the road, standing / lying on the road. Be extremely careful and cautious so that you come back from your vacation with only positive impressions.

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Good evening, would it be a problem to find a car in Masery to take us to Ushguli? We are planning to stay there for one night, and then drive to Mestia. I find information everywhere about round trip prices, would it be a problem to go only one way?

Quotation “Often, you can stay in a yard with a tent, in Mestia there are especially many such offers, there are whole campsites” Tell me, if you just stay in the mountains with a tent – is it safe? Or just like in Europe, is it possible to stay only in a camping?

Niko, you can stay in the mountains with a tent, everything is safe. The main thing is to know where to take water. You need to look at specific routes and parking lots on these routes

Good afternoon, how many days would you recommend to be in Svaneti? If to see all the places you mentioned?

Susanna, if you look at all the places mentioned in your post, it would take two weeks.

Нас зовут Стас и Аня. Мы очень любим путешествовать и вдохновляем людей на путешествия! Полезной информацией и своими впечатлениями делимся на этом блоге. Подробнее о нас>>> Where is now: Russia

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