Combined car + trekking in the high mountains
Length (on foot): 11 km; 2 km
Start from: Mestia
Drop-off: Khalde; Latphari pass
Pick-up: Khalde; Latphari pass
Elevation change: 1075 m; 1150 m
Season: June – October
Price: 365 GEL
without Latphari: 210 GEL
Visit Archangel’s church of Iprali: +10 GEL
The precious gem in your trip to Svaneti, Bezengi Wall is the highest section of the Caucasus mountains. This combined car & trekking trip shows you the best of its peaks and glaciers. Best panoramas in Svaneti.
Have you ever heard of the Bezengi Wall? It is the section of the Great Caucasus Mountains where the highest peaks are concentrated forming an enormous wall 4800-5200 m high. Includes peaks Tetnuldi, Gestola, Katintau, Jangitau, Shkhara and others, three big glaciers (Adishi glacier, Khalde glacier, Shkhara glacier). This hike brings you very close to the high mountains, in fact there are very few places in the world where the average trekker can get this close to the snow-covered peaks.
If you have more time in Svaneti, it might be a good idea to spend 2-3 days investigating this part of the region. We listed several options in the 2-3 day hikes section, that are more cost-effective. But if you only have 1 day and would like to see the best of the best in Svaneti, this combined trip is ideal. Please note that the second part of it (Latphari pass) is about 360* panoramas, so there isn’t much point in doing it when there are low clouds.
The driver picks you up in your guest-house in Mestia. Your first stop is village Khalde. The village was destroyed by troops of the Russian Empire due to a revolt in 1876, so you won’t find towers there, but its location is remarkably beautiful. In 1987 most inhabitants were evacuated because of avalanches, but now the village is starting to revive. From Khalde you will already see parts of the Bezengi Wall. The car will have to stay in Khalde, while you take a pleasant walk along the road over Khaldechala river with views of the Bezengi Wall and Khalde glacier. When you reach a large meadow with shepherds’ huts, you will see a path branching off to the left and going up in broad zigzag. Follow the path and it will take you to Chkhutnieri pass. From the pass you will be able to see awesome Adishi glacier from very close, all of Adishchala valley, village Adishi, the river and the lake, as well as a big portion of the Bezengi wall and Khalde glacier. In clear weather you will see the Caucasus Range as far as Ushba and even further. At the pass you will find a path turning right along the ridge for a few more hundred meters. You can follow it to reach the highest view-point. After that you return to Khalde the same way.
If you still have enough time, you can visit Archangel’s church of Iprali to see the lovely 12th century frescoes by Royal Painter Tevdore (the visit needs to be arranged with the key-keeper, so occasionally we may not be able to show you the church if he is away from the village). This will add 20 minutes and 10 GEL to the cost, but if you are interested in culture-heritage we recommend you visit the church, it is one of the most beautiful in Svaneti and few tourists get to see it.
If the weather is still nice and you have at least 2.5 more hours of daylight, you can proceed to Latphari pass by car. Don’t forget to stop for views of Ushba, Enguri valley and Kala on your right in the first part of the ascent. When you reach the pass, the car will stop near St. Luke’s church at 2830 m, the highest built church of Svaneti. The view from the church is already magnificent, but if you want to get a 360* panorama, you will need to climb up the little hill behind the church. There is no single marked path, any path taking you to the hill is OK. On the map we showed a circular route: take the path that goes around the hill (the hill and the church stay on your left while you go around it and climb it from behind), then return by walking down from the hill straight to the church which you will see below you. This little route will take you about 1.5 hours at medium/slow pace. You will also see Ushguli below you, Ushba, the entire Bezengi wall, Lower Svaneti as far as Racha. The sunset at Latphari is amazing.
Please make sure you bring a lot of water and enough food because there aren’t any quick cafes on the way, and you will need all your time to visit both sites. If you only plan to do the first part (Khalde-Chkhutnieri), you will find cafes in Iprali and in Lalkhori (Kala Community).
This route is also possible to do on horseback, see HORSE-RIDING section.
BLUE: the walking trail from Khalde to Chkhutnieri pass and back.
Photographs in order of the trail