Length: 56 km
Season: June – October
Drop off: Etseri
Price indication: 360 GEL
A thorough overview of the region west of Mestia with lovely panoramas of Ushba, Svaneti Range, Etseri and Mazeri valleys. A very intensive hike, long distances, big elevation change, and fantastic scenery.
Day 1. This hike starts in Etseri, about a 35-min drive from Mestia. The trail is marked red and white, the first part follows a wide dirt road that is used a lot by locals. First you will be passing through a few villages of the Etseri community, then the road starts going up into the alpine meadows where villagers keep their cattle in summer, and over Baki pass (highest point for today, 2460 m). Great views of Ushba, surrounding glaciers, Dolra valley and the Svaneti Range. After you pass Baki and start descending, you will come across a place called Meziri: an alpine meadow with a small church devoted to the Archangel Michael. Beyond the church there is a small lake, probably the only lake in Svaneti where you can catch a reflection of Ushba. From near the lake you can already see Becho waterfalls in the distance and village Mazeri below you. The trail goes down through a forest and finally merges with a wider forest road that descends into Mazeri near Grand Hotel Ushba, straight after the bridge (location “2” on the map below). Distance for the day: 15 km. Elevation change: 950 m. Overnight in Mazeri. The map shows the trail in the opposite order, please don’t be confused. The order we suggest gives you better views of Ushba.
Day 2. The trail to Ushba glacier starts at the wooden bridge across the river Dolra, to the north of Mazeri village, near Grand Hotel Ushba. The trail has double marking (red and white + blue and white) – both are correct for you. First it goes along a pleasant dirt road along the Dolra, then near Hiker’s Cafe the road becomes a footpath and goes on through a shady forest with glimpses of the valley and Becho waterfalls on your right. Then the path crosses another wooden bridge and arrives at the border police post. Pass the border police and follow the path that takes you out of the forest and starts going up and getting more and more steep and rocky. Watch out very carefully for the markings, especially at the turnings that are easy to miss, some marks are almost invisible because of the grass. You will need to cross a few streams on your way, and finally the trail arrives at the start of the waterfalls and further at the beginning of the glacier (2900 m). The end of the trail is marked by a big boulder monument to alpinists that perished while ascending Ushba. You can go a little further to the river flowing from under the glacier, but we strongly recommend NOT to walk on the actual glacier. Follow the same trail back to Mazeri. Distance for the day: 24 km. Elevation change: 1300 m.
Day 3. The marked trail starts in Mazeri (Baghvdanari area), crosses the Gulichala river over the bridge and goes gradually uphill to the ruins of Guli village. Further up you pass Guli church, pastures with a few shepherds’ huts and arrive at Guli pass (2960 m, highest point for today). From Guli pass the trail first goes east and arrives at Phushkveri river, which you will need to cross. Continue eastwards across the meadows until you come to a wider road near Koruldi lakes. Turn south (downhill) and follow the road until you see the view platform and steel Cross over Mestia. Take the path on the right of the platform to arrive in Mestia. The road on the left is longer and brings you down far from the centre of Mestia. Distance: 25 km. Elevation change: 1500 m.
There are no technically difficult parts on this trail, but it is long and the elevation changes are significant, so you really need to be in good physical shape to enjoy it.
Photographs in order of the trail