Tourist’s guide to Mestia, Svaneti – the ski resort in Georgia

Mestia (Georgia) is a colorful and somewhat mysterious settlement in the country’s mountainous region. This part of Georgia is known for its amazing architectural structures and is called the “Country of a Thousand Towers”.

Locals – Svans – have erected tall structures – quadrangular towers for millennia, and economic and defensive tasks were entrusted to such buildings. In addition to the towers, Svaneti attracts tourists with picturesque landscapes, architectural sights, ancient churches. The architecture of the settlement is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The region has long been considered the custodian of Georgian treasures, collected and exhibited as exhibits in the Museum of History and Ethnography.

Mestia - a village in Upper Svaneti
Photo: Mestia

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General information

Mestia (Svaneti) is located in the southern part of the Greater Caucasus at a distance of 128 km from Zugdidi (in the north-east direction). The settlement is located at an altitude of 1.5 km. Locals – Svans – an ethnic group that is distinguished by masculinity, a special culture and centuries-old traditions.

Interesting fact! The culture and traditions of the Svans have been known for over 4,000 years.

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Mestia in the winter

The special color and originality of the Svans have been formed for many millennia. The inhabitants of the mountains led a separate lifestyle, because in winter the mountain passes were covered with snow, and Svaneti was cut off from the whole world. As a result of such isolation, conquerors never came to the region.

It is important! Svaneti retained its inaccessibility – an asphalt road laid to Mestia, the capital of the region, then you need to move only on the dirt road. Traveling to villages in the mountains is better by taxi.

Streets in Mestia

In Svaneti, Georgia is represented in a concentrated form. In a small area all the distinctive features of the country are collected – picturesque mountains, centuries-old legends, amazing lamb with tkemali sauce, the best honey in the world and, of course, severe and laconic Svan.

Interesting to know! The main enemy of Svaneti is litsvri. This is a custom of blood feud, which in the highlands has acquired special significance. According to historical data, over 5 centuries, more than two hundred Georgian families died as a result of blood feud. The famous Svan towers were built primarily to protect against attacks by local residents.

City hall and police building

Mestia makes a lasting impression on tourists who come to Georgia. Here are tidy houses, decorated in an Alpine style, the city hall building, built in a modern style, an inconspicuous police building, the House of Justice, temples and monuments of justice.

The historic center of Mestia is the only place in the settlement that has not been restored. Outwardly, it looked like this – a bit of old Tallinn, mountain landscapes, paved streets and a dozen Svan towers.

What to see and where to go

Museum of History and Ethnography in Svaneti

The most striking attraction of Mestia, the residents call the museum “Georgian Louvre”, because there is a unique collection that demonstrates the culture, customs and traditions of the Svans.

Museum of History and Ethnography in Svaneti

Among the exhibits are items made of gold and silver, armor of warriors, coins, works of art by local masters. It is noteworthy that all the exhibits were donated by parishioners to local churches. The collection of ancient Georgian manuscripts dating back to the 9-11th centuries is recognized as the richest.

The attraction was founded in 1936, the total number of exhibits totals 4 thousand. The main exhibition is on the second floor, in the halls located in a ring. On the ground floor there is only one room dedicated to ethnography.

On a note! In hot weather, there is a cafe inside where you can enjoy cold drinks.

To plunge into the world of Svans, order an excursion.

At the Museum of History and Ethnography in Svaneti

The cost of the tour will cost 25 GEL.

If you want to see the exhibits on your own, an adult ticket costs 5 GEL, and a student ticket costs 1 GEL.

You can visit the attraction in Svnetia daily from 10-00 to 18-00 at the address: st. A. Lozeliani, 7, Mestia.

Finding a museum is easy – it is located in a southeast direction from the central square of Mestia. Traveling from Mestia to Ushguli, you pass a two-story building where the attraction is located.

Chalaadi Glacier

The main attraction of Mestia in Georgia is hiking trails. One of the most popular is an excursion to the Chalaadi glacier.

Chalaadi Glacier in Mestia

The picturesque place is located next to Mestia. An excursion to the glacier does not require serious physical preparation, so the walk will be comfortable even for families with children. The route is equipped with convenient paths.

Ascent to the glacier begins from the central square. You must follow to the suspension bridge (towards the airport). There is a cafe near the suspension bridge where you can buy water and picnic products. Here you can leave the car. Then you have to walk through the forest, you need to navigate according to indicators.

It is important! The route is 12.5 km long, and the trip takes about 8 hours. GPS coordinates of Chalaadi glacier: 43.117124, 42.696214.

A gusty river at the foot of the Chalaadi Glacier

If you prefer comfort, take a taxi or rent a car. Transport will take you to the forest. The cost of the trip is 40-50 GEL.

On the glacier there is a huge cave of ice, inside there is a lake. Unfortunately, it is impossible to get close to the cave, since stones are falling from above. On the way you can stop for a picnic.

Practical recommendations:

  • it’s very cold near the glacier even in the hottest weather, do not forget to take a jacket;
  • height difference is more than 500 m;
  • the best time to visit is in the summer and in the first half of autumn;
  • don’t go on a glacier in the rain – the road becomes wet and dangerous;
  • Wear comfortable, athletic shoes.

Mount Ushba

Ushba is one of the most famous in Georgia and the Caucasus. Its height is 4690 m, its shape is peaked, several climbing routes of different difficulty levels have been laid. In Europe, Ushba is called the Caucasus Matterhorn, because it resembles an alpine mountain.

Mount Ushba

Ushba has two peaks:

  • South – it is visible from the side of the settlement of Becho;
  • North – it can be seen from the Ugir Pass.

Interesting fact! The first was the Northern peak of the mountain – 1888. The first ascent to the South Peak was recorded in 1903. The famous “Ushba Mirror” – a vertical section in the northern part of the mountain – was climbed by climber Mikhail Khergiani.

Climbing Ushba South

For tourists, trails of different difficulty levels are laid – from 4A to 6A. The mountain is best seen from the territory of the Bacho settlement. You can also see the peak from the village of Lahushti.

Ascent, as a rule, begins from the village of Mazeri in the settlement of Bacho. From here, experienced climbers and ordinary tourists begin to climb. The length of the climb is 10 km, the walk takes about 8 hours. The difference in height is more than 1 km. The trail runs near waterfalls and mineral springs.

On a note! You can travel by horse, which is rented in Becho or Latali.

Museum of Mikhail Khergiani

Museum of Mikhail Khergiani

Another attraction of Mestia is the Mikhail Khergiani Museum, dedicated to the legendary mountaineer from Svaneti.

This outstanding athlete is called the tiger of the rocks, the fearless conqueror of the mountain peaks. During his life, Khergiani became the champion 7 times and was awarded the prize for achievements in skiing.

Photo by Mikhail Khergiani in the museum

The house museum is organized in the family nest where the boy was born. His father, also a climber, conquered Ushba in 1932. In the main room where the boy was born, the situation created by his parents was preserved – a hearth, a lamp, a large table, a cradle, family photos on the walls. Love for the mountain peaks was instilled in the boy from birth, because all the men in the family were fond of mountaineering – father, uncle, cousin.

In 1951, Khergiani graduated from the school of mountaineering instructors, and a year later he got a job in a climbing camp in Elbrus region. After 5 years, Mikhail works as the head of a rescue squad in a camp located in the Shkheld gorge. Since 1952, the athlete’s career has been actively developing.

Room of Mikhail Khergiani

Here you can find climber’s equipment, clothes, personal diaries, and many photographs taken by an athlete during ascents.

The great climber died in 1969, at the age of 37, having torn from a height of 600 meters in the Italian Dolomites. The rope that insured Mikhail is represented in the museum and is stored under the roof. The works of Yuri Vizbor, Vladimir Vysotsky, Yevgeny Yevtushenko dedicated the great climber.

Interesting fact! The museum has a book where everyone can leave a memorable note.

The address of the attraction in Svaneti: 34 M. Khergiani Street, Mestia.

Corundi Lakes

Corundi Lakes

The route to the top of Koruldi and mountain lakes is one of the most popular tourist routes in Georgia. Traveling to the sights does not require special ammunition, the main thing is sufficient physical preparation, because during the walk you will have to rise and fall many times. The attraction is located at an altitude of 2700 m, it is 1200 m above the location of the Mestia settlement.

Useful information! On the main square of Mestia there is a tourist office where you can take a map of the area and clarify the route.

Photo of Coruldi Lakes

Practical recommendations:

  • The best time to travel is from June to the first half of October;
  • pick up comfortable, athletic shoes, warm clothes;
  • be sure to bring water and food with you to snack;
  • sunscreen is not superfluous.

How to find a route:

  • from the main square of Mestia, follow eastward;
  • after 500 m, turn onto Khergiani street;
  • go under the tower to the swan.
Index photo

Continue up the path. It is better to follow the main path that leads to a country road. If you want to enjoy nature, turn left on one of the branches. This path is shorter and more picturesque.

The trail leads to a metal cross and a small hut. Here you can make a halt and enjoy the surroundings from the observation deck. The journey to the cross takes about 5 hours. Near the cross there are signs that you need to move on. The road to the lakes from the cross takes about 2 hours.

It is important! The total length is 15.6 km, the road takes from 6 to 8 hours.

Ski resorts

Mestia is a ski resort in Georgia, which attracts with free slopes and always fresh snow. The inaccessibility of the region is affected, so only the bravest and the most daring come here. Ski resorts accept beginners and experienced athletes from December to the second half of spring.

Tetnuldi

Tetnuldi Ski Resort

The new ski resort, which opened in February 2016, is located 15 km from the capital of Svaneti. The management of Tetnuldi plans to create a ski resort that successfully competes with Gudauri. It plans to open 16 ski slopes and increase the ski area to 35 km. Today there are three lifts. The lowest point is located at an altitude of 1600 m, and the highest – at an altitude of 3040 m. The ski resort has excellent conditions for freeriding. The length of the longest route is 9.5 km.

Good to know! The Svans tell a beautiful legend, according to which the most prominent and beautiful mountains – Tetnuldi and Ushba – are a separated and enchanted couple in love. When lovers feel sad, mountain peaks are covered with thick fog.

Hatsvali

The ski resort is located just 8 km from Mestia, next to the highest peak in Georgia – Shkhara and the picturesque mountain Ushba. The lower lift station is located at an altitude of 1865 m, there is a ski equipment rental nearby.

Hatsvali ski resort

A four-chair lift is installed at the ski resort, a climb to a height of 2350 m takes only 10 minutes. In addition, there are several ski tows.

Three routes are presented to tourists:

  • red (medium difficulty) – 1900 m;
  • blue (difficult) – 2600 m;
  • for beginners – 300 m.

You can master such sports as freeride and backcountry, accompanied by an experienced instructor.

Important information! All infrastructure is concentrated in Mestia. There is accommodation for every wallet – from guesthouses to luxury hotels, equipment rental points. A one-day rental will cost about $ 10. Transportation from the capital of Svantia to the ski resorts – comfortable seven-seater minibuses, fare – 80 GEL.

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How to get from Tbilisi and Kutaisi Airport

There are several ways to get to the Mestia ski resort in Georgia. The option of taking a minibus can be too complicated if you have a poor vestibular apparatus. Another way to get to Svaneti is to fly a small Cessna plane. But in this case, the impressions of the unique Georgian nature will be completely different.

Mestia Airport

If you are a brave daredevil, rent a car, but no one will guarantee that the trip will be successful. In the worst case, you will have to leave vehicles in the mountains, use the services of an airplane.

How to get from Tbilisi to Mestia by plane

The method is quick, but very unreliable. Flights are operated from the capital’s Natakhtari Airport, which is 35 km from Tbilisi. You can get to:

  • taxi (trip cost approximately $ 13);
  • bus No. 37 – follows from the Vokzalnaya Ploshchad metro station;
  • minibus that follows in Gudauri or Kazbegi.

It is important! Flights to Mestia are organized by the Vanilla Sky airline, from the Rustaveli metro station 2 hours before the flight, the airline will transport it. Minibus travel is free for passengers.

Natakhtari-Mestia flights depart on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. The cost of the flight is $ 27. The road takes 1 hour. There is a limit on the weight of baggage – not more than 15 kg.

It is important! You can also get to Mestia from Kutaisi. Flights are provided on Monday and Friday. Ticket price – $ 17.

The weather is too unpredictable in the mountains, this should be taken into account and always have an alternative. From October until the beginning of spring it rains in Svaneti, and the weather does not allow airplanes to fly.

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By bus

Bus to Mestia

This is the most popular transport. Svaneti is followed by minibuses from different cities – Tbilisi, Batumi and Kutaisi. The cost of the ticket and the duration of the trip depend on the city from which you depart. The road from Tbilisi takes 9 hours, a ticket costs $ 15. Transportation follows from Didube metro station.

The road from Kutaisi to the resort in the mountains takes about 5 hours. Given that the route passes along a mountain serpentine, people with a poor vestibular apparatus may be sick. Better to sit in front of the cabin or next to the driver.

It is important! Before the trip, check the schedule of minibuses at the bus station.

By Taxi

Car rent

A trip from Kutaisi by taxi to the mountain resort will cost $ 105. From Batumi to Mestia can be reached for $ 125.

By car

There is nothing scary on the trip, the main thing is to comply with speed limits. The advantage of traveling by car is that there are no toll roads in Georgia.

The longest road to Mestia is from Tbilisi, and the path from Kutaisi is two times shorter. If you decide to stay in the city of arrival, you will be interested in what to see in Kutaisi – the main attractions .

It is important! A good, asphalt road has been laid to Mestia, road signs are installed everywhere. On the way, you will definitely meet picturesque rock tunnels.

It is better to hit the road early in the morning to arrive in Mestia in the daytime.

Mestia (Georgia) is a special village that is different from plain Georgia. The inhabitants of the mountains look harsh, laconic, but hospitable and friendly. During the trip you will find unforgettable emotions and acquaintance with the unique, inimitable Georgia.

 

 


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