Length: 49 km
Season: June – October
Overnights: Chvabiani/Zhabeshi, Adishi, Iprali
Price indication: 605 GEL
Visit Saviour’s church of Adishi: + 15 GEL
Visit Archangel’s church of Iprali: + 10 GEL
The most popular summer hike in Svaneti showcasing the unique feature of the region: Svan towers against the natural landscape. You will also see glaciers, high mountains and UNESCO site Ushguli.
Day 1. The trail starts in central Mestia at 1450 m above sea level. You need to go over Kakhyri 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 to enter Chvabiani. 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. 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 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. Start from Iprali and cross the Khaldechala river. After crossing the river you need to turn left and follow a small dirt road uphill. The trail goes through alpine meadows above the Enguri river and merges with the main road to Ushguli about 2 km before the village. This route to Ushguli is the shortest one, and you should have enough time to make the marked trail in the central part of Ushguli (Chazhashi) and see Lamaria monastery before we pick you up at about 6 pm near the bridge in Ushguli. Distance for the day: 10 km. Elevation change: 450 m.
The map shows a slightly different trail, you get to walk along the dusty car road a lot more in this version. Whichever path you take after Iprali – it is impossible to get lost, so suit yourself.
Photographs in order of the trail