Length (on foot): 16 km
Season: June – October
Drop-off: Ushguli; Khalde
Pick-up: Ushguli; Khalde
Price indication: 600 GEL
A most balanced combination of trekking and art heritage in the Ushguli region of Svaneti. You get to see the 2 gems of Svaneti’s culture-heritage, Kvirike monastery and Ushguli, as well as the natural gem of the Caucasus, the Bezengi wall. The Bezengi Wall is the section of the Great Caucasus Mountains where the highest peaks are concentrated forming an enormous wall 4800-5200 m high. It includes peaks Tetnuldi, Gestola, Katintau, Jangitau, Shkhara, highest summit of Georgia (5200 m), and others, as well as 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.
Day 1. The driver will pick you up at your guest-house in Mestia and take you first to Kala Community for your first destination – the former monastery of St.Kvirike and St.Ivlita (Cyricus and Juliet). This is the most unusual, most beautiful and most sacred church of Svaneti. You will meet the key-keeper and hike through a forest for about 1 km, because the monastery is located on a hill overlooking the valley. Inside the church is decorated with 11th century frescoes by Tevdore, Royal Painter to King David the Builder, and treasures as many precious ikons and items as the main Svaneti Museum in Mestia. Every year the Svans come here for the Kvirikoba feast (July 28), the main religious festival of Svaneti. After the Liturgy the wardens of the church (inhabitants of Kala Community) organize a traditional feast for the hundreds of visitors.
After you visit the church and come back to the main road, we recommend you have a snack at one of the cafes in Kala before heading for Ushguli, this will save time. The driver will take you on to Ushguli, to the guest-house, so you can leave your things there and go out to explore Ushguli’s sites. There is a small marked tourist trail going through the historic part of Ushguli. If you follow the trail, it will take you to the treasury museum in Chazhashi, a private ethnographic museum in Zhibiani and then up to Lamaria monastery over Zhibiani.
Distance for the day: 4-5 km. Elevation change: 250 m. Overnight in Ushguli.
Day 2. The driver will pick you up at your guest-house in Ushguli and take you to Khalde by car. 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, and you will walk towards the high mountains along 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. Distance for the day: 13 km. Elevation change: 975 m.
BLUE: the walking trail from Khalde to Chkhutnieri pass and back.