Length: 52 km
Season: June – October
Overnights: Chvabiani/Zhabeshi, Adishi, Iprali
Pick-up: Kala (morning of Day 4); Ushguli (evening of Day 4)
Drop-off: Latphari (morning of Day 4)
Price indication: 780 GEL
Visit Saviour’s church of Adishi: + 15 GEL
Visit Archangel’s church of Iprali: + 10 GEL
A panoramic version of the previous hike. The difference is Day 4: instead of the classic route, we take you to Latphari by car. From Latphari you continue on foot, which lets you see the entire Enguri valley from 2900 m.
Day 1. The trail starts in central Mestia at 1450 above sea level. You need to go over Kakhuri Range (highest point 1900 m) to arrive in Mulakhi community which comprises several villages on both sides of the Mulkhura river. It doesn’t really matter which of the paths and bridges you take and which of the villages you pass to arrive at your final destination for today (Zhabeshi), but we recommend passing through Lakhiri, a little higher than the route suggested by the local tourist authorities (see map). This village has a magnificent architectural adornment: some 18 medieval Svan towers forming an impressive ensemble that reminds of a huge castle. After you pass Lakhiri, you will need to cross the bridge over the Mulkhura and go a little more eastwards to arrive in Chvabiani or further on in Zhabeshi, the most remote part of Mulakhi. Distance for the day: 14 km. Elevation change: 500 m. Overnight in Chvabiani or Zhabeshi.
Day 2. From Chvabiani and Zhabeshi the trail goes up Mt. Tetnuldi and joins the road to Tetnuldi ski resort. This is the most difficult part of the way – uphill and along the road with no shade, but it’s not long. The trail first follows the main car road to Tetnuldi ski resort, but then a footpath branches off to the right (in the alpine zone, a few hundred meters higher up along the road after you pass hotel “Tetnuldi Paradise”, see location “2” on the map). There will be no more significant elevation changes as you walk on to Adishi, which you will see on your right and a little below.
There are three churches that you can visit in Adishi: St. George’s and Archangel’s are usually open, so that you can come in and see the 13th-14th century frescoes. Saviour’s church (the first on your way as you go down into Adishi, with a cemetery around) is part of the Svaneti Museum, so your visit there needs to be arranged with the key-keeper. We will be happy to arrange this, if you confirm that you are interested in visiting. This will add 15 GEL to the tour. Distance for the day: 10 km. Elevation change: 850 m. Overnight in Adishi.
Day 3. Start out early in the morning, because today you will need to ford the Adishchala river, and the water level is lowest in the morning. We recommend crossing the river on horseback, but the choice is yours. Your host in Adishi will help you arrange for a horse, just let them know in the evening. The ford is near Adishi glacier, some 5 km from Adishi village (marked trail along the river with no significant elevation changes). After you cross the river the trail goes up Chkhutnieri pass (highest point for today, 2722 m) with great views of surrounding mountains and Adishi glacier. From the pass the trail descends in wide loops into the next valley and at the shepherds’ huts you need to turn right and follow Khaldechala river all the way down to Iprali. The guest-houses are on the left side of the road. Distance for the day: 15 km. Elevation change: 1075 m. Overnight in Iprali.
You can visit Archangel’s church of Iprali to see wonderful 12th century frescoes by King David’s Royal Painter Tevdore (+ 10 GEL to the cost of the tour; the visit needs to be arranged with the key-keeper).
Day 4. Two versions, one with a focus on hiking, the other will give you more time in Ushguli. Meet the driver near cafe Kala in Lalkhori (right on the bridge across Khaldechala). This is about 1 km downhill from Iprali if you use the straight path that schoolchildren from Iprali take to go to school in Lalkhori.
Version 1. The car takes you to Latphari pass (2830 m) and you trek from Latphari to Ushguli on foot.
When you reach the pass, the car will stop near St. Luke’s church at 2830 m, the highest built church of Svaneti. From St. Luke’s church take the path that goes around the hill (the hill and the church stay on your left while you go around it and arrive at the ridge that takes you to Gorvashi pass). Your entire route is visible from there, so you won’t have any trouble finding your way. You should still have some time to see Ushguli after you arrive there. The driver will pick you up at the bridge in Ushguli (only 1 car bridge in the village, so no mistake possible).
YELLOW: trail from Latphari pass to Ushguli.
BLUE: Up Latphari by car.
Version 2. Spend about 1.5 hours at Latphari to do a small circular panoramic route.
The car will stop near St. Luke’s church. 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 footpath 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 pace. You will also see Ushguli below you, Ushba, the entire Bezengi wall, Lower Svaneti as far as Racha.
Then the driver will take you to Ushguli by car and you will have enough time to explore Ushguli thoroughly and perhaps do a jeep-tour to Shkhara glacier (180 GEL) or a horse-riding tour to the same glacier (see HORSE-RIDING section). You need about 2.5 hours for the jeep-tour and 4 hours for the horse tour.
The driver will meet you at the central bridge in Ushguli.
BLUE: trail around Latphari pass.
YELLOW: Kala – Latphari by car.