Length: 11 km
Start from: Mestia
Drop-off: Mulakhi, on the Mestia-Ushguli road at the turning into Zhamushi.
Pick-up: Mulakhi, on the Mestia-Ushguli road at the turning into Zhamushi.
Elevation change: 800 m
Season: June – October
Price: 80 GEL
Steady uphill climb from village Lakhiri with its set of 18 splendid Svan towers, to the church of Lakhiri’s Archangel, perched on the slopes of Mt. Banguriani. Panorama of the Mulkhura valley and Mt. Tetnuldi.
This is one of the easier panoramic trails that combines an insight into culture heritage with great trekking. This route can be done in cloudy weather, because you don’t need to see things higher than 2500 m, except Mt. Tetnuldi. The car takes you to Mulakhi community and the first 2 km of the way you go up along a dirt road connecting 2 villages: Zhamushi and Lakhiri. Lakhiri has a remarkable set of 18 Svan towers of 11th-14th centuries that look very impressive against the background of Mt. Tetnuldi, and you can take about 30 minutes to stroll around and admire the architecture. To continue the ascent you need to find yourself at Lakhiri’s central and only square and take the path that goes up towards a young pine forest. Turn left and walk along the slope westward for about 1 km, then turn right and start walking uphill and slightly to the right, following the natural landscape (you are basically going round a hill). You will see a waterfall higher than the path and slightly to the left of it. The trail is not marked, but the path is used by locals. As you go higher you will start getting lovely glimpses of Kakhyri Range that separates Mestia from Mulakhi. Then the path enters a forest and becomes wider. Just follow it till you come to Archangel’s church of Lakhiri. The best view is actually a little higher, but there is no path, so just make your way from the church upwards straight through the shrub on the ridge until you come to a pine tree with some grass under it where you can sit down with your back to the ridge and admire the panorama. Mt. Tetnuldi on your left, Mulkhra valley and Ughviri pass in front and below you, Kakhyri Range and Mestia to the right. Back the same way, and the driver will pick you up at the drop-off point.
This route is also possible to do on horseback, see HORSE-RIDING section
BLUE: from Mestia-Ushguli road up to Lakhiri and Archangel’s church
Photographs in order of the trail