Buba and Tbilisa Glaciers
After doing Georgia’s the best hike to Udziro lake, it is possible to extend the trip by Hiking to Buba and Tbilisa glaciers. The area is unbeliavably beautiful in any season. Buba and Tbilisa glaciers each can be dayhikes – the first one starting from Glola and the other one from the ridge which can be reached (viewpoint to both glaciers) by jeep. Or it can be 2-days trek. You need to get border permits in Oni for doing 2-days trek/Tbilisa glacier hike or jeep ride. For doing just Buba glacier permits are not needed.
Those who don’t want to hike, they can always hire local jeep driver who will take them to the viewpoint from where there is a beautiful view to both glaciers. It is recommended that jeep tour includes Mamisoni’s second border post behind Chanchakhi summit (4461 m) and below Mamisoni pass (2911m).
Views to the summit is very beautiful and there is a lake nearby but your time and hiking opportunities may be limited by border post. From there its possible to drive to Tbilisa glacier vewpoint. In case of time, its worth to hike down to Tbilisa glacier and return to the car. This might take 4-5 hours. If not this is not must as view is already beutiful enough especially in case of clear weather.
Jeep tour in Tbilisa and Buba Glacier area
Jeep ride including Tbilisa and Buba glacier viewpoint, Mamisoni pass with Chanchakhi glacier behind and Ghurshevi gorge with Ghurshevi glacier behind it, may be one of the most beautiful jeep or offroad routes in Georgia. From the viewpoint you are able to see the other side of Burjula summit 4364m what you see well in Notsara jeep ride/hike.
While you dont need much effort to hike up to Notsara from Chiora, if you want to save 200-300 gel on each local jeep ride to Notsara and Tbilisa/Mamisoni, I advise you to save on Notsara and hike up there and do jeep tour here otherwise you may need 2 days trek here. I think if you are visiting Racha region and if you are not hiker who can hike to Udziro lake, either Notsara or this jeep tour is must, or you can do both, even better.
Below the first border post there is a path leading to abandoned Ossetian village Ghurshevi. Nobody lives there now. Even though it looks like a border on the map between unrecognized South Ossetia and the rest of Georgia, the gorge is under Georgian control. There is small chapel/shrine with high trees and meditation vibe. Then you can start walking towards abandoned huts. The view is dominated by Ghurshevi glacier which looks beautiful.
Ghurshevi gorge may be overgrown, since not many people are visiting, so you should wear long shorts and beware of hogweeds and other nasty plants. Not taking into account vegetation, hike is easy as you ascend very very slowly. It can be considered as half day hike if you are planning to reach the glacier, however it is also an option to walk around and not reach the glacier.
As for the trek itself, if you will do both Buba and Tbilisa glaciers, take a jeep Or if you are bigger group – Soviet truck to the viewpoint then you could walk to the glaciers and camp and the next day descend to Buba glacier. If you just wish to walk to one of the glaciers, then Tbilisa glacier is much more beautiful. Between Buba and Tbilisa glaciers there are streams you need to cross and some section is overgrown and unpleasant to walk.
If you want to hike from Shovi to Buba glacier and back, that doesn’t need a permit. Even though the glacier is not as beautiful as Tbilisa glacier, the area is really nice. Dayhike takes 7 hours (13km to and back), views are perfect. You will first reach the area of Shovi resort old sanatoriums which was perfect area in Soviet times and now is in bad condition due to ineffective management. There are several mineral waters nearby which you can taste.
Route follows Bubastskali river. You will pass shepherd’s hut and walk on panoramic ridge with a view to glacier. At the end of the hike you can reach the glacier itself then return back unless you plan to continue towards Tbilisa glacier and come back via Mamisoni pass road. Please note that if you dont have a border permit taken in advance its not advised to go towards Tbilisa glacier.
Hope you will enjoy your journey in Georgian Switzerland and have sunny weather.
For the map please see: