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Mestia is the best base for hiking and trekking and for exploration of Georgia’s one of the greatest regions Svaneti. Svaneti has the highest summits, one of the best guesthouses and food in the mountains of Georgia, nice people, developed infrastructure, richest cultural heritage, great views, all what you can wish for, even nice small cafes and some little nightlife.

Hatsvali cable cars by Szabo Veszlikova

Number 1 highlight is Hatsvali cable cars. From Mestia cable cars start from the city center and take you to panoramic Cafe Zuruldi which is located on the level of 2340m and has great views over Caucasus summits – Devil 2headed Ushba and snow white pricess Tetnuldi. Cable car from Mestia till Hatsvali base station started to operate in 2017 end to make it more convenient for tourists to experience Svaneti. From Mestia Tetnuldi resort is also reachable easily in 30 minutes.

Chalaadi Glacier (Tinatin Kometiani)

Along with hatsvali ski resort which is always beautiful all year long, Chalaadi Glacier is another most visited destination in Mestia. If you dont have your/organized car, taking taxi to the bridge is must as there is nothing to see till you reach there. From the bridge its 2-3km hike 1 way, first through the forest path going up, then there is harder section for completely inexperienced hikers when you need to walk over huge stones to make it to the glacier. The area is very beautiful, you see how the river is born in the fastest way ever, but you need to be careful as rocks may fall from glacier.

Koruldi Lakes by Saba Chakvetadze Photography

Koruldi Lakes is a hiking, jeep, horseriding, skitouring etc area from Mestia. Jeepride may be hard and scary especially for foreigners so better to trust your legs. First of all, you should decide how much you would like to hike:  1) Just to Cross (viewpoint towards Mestia) its only 2 hr (2.5hr) hike 1 way (ascents) from 1400m to 2150m,    2) more relaxing 2 (2.5) more hours is to the Koruldi lakes (2750m). Here ordinary hikers route ends. 3) Then if you are crazy enough you can hike to the ridge 3400m to see the best views of Ushba summit. This is recommended only with guide and experience. Some sections are steep and harder so 3-4 hr more will be needed. from 1400 to 3400m of course I dont recommend hiking in 1 day up and down. I would suggest using car to the lakes then hike, or camping at the lakes, or sleeping in cloudbase hut which is near the lakes. Generally Koruldi lakes are justifying 1 important fact about alpine lakes – Reflection – double view of the mountains in the lake are better than the lake itself.

On the ridge above Koruldi Lakes by Ronald Berzins

so close to Ushba – at the ridge, by Ronald Berzins

Ieli village is near Mestia – actually its turn from the road to Hatsvali cable cars. Heshkili huts – another impressive place to sleep on the ridges above Mestia is near the turn to Ieli (or Eli). Jeep Road to Ieli is beautiful and panoramic, overlooking Enguri gorge from high elevation. Ieli itself has beautiful Svan towers, old churches, nice people, less tourists and 1 very interesting mythological story. Its related to Golden Fleece Legend. When Argonauts came to steal Golden Fleece from Georgia, symbolically they stole Technics of getting gold from Georgian rivers – and gold mining was done and is still done in Georgia, in Ieli village  river Enguri so the legend is still alive. You can hike to Ieli from Mestia if your hiking skills are not high enough to climb mountains. It will be flat panoramic, exotic terrain, dirt road however you should enjoy meeting with locals in this exotic village. You can hike to Tsvirmi from here as well as from Hatsvali cable cars upper station and Zuruldi ridge. Ridge hiking is more impressive of course, however, hiking through forest and arriving in Tsvirmi from Ieli could be an idea too.

Old pic of Heshkili huta, now turned into guesthouse (on the way to Ieli)

Tower museum of Margiani, museum of famous Alpinist Misha Khergiani and most important, I would say, one of the best museums of Georgia is Georgian National museum in Mestia. It follows highest international standards and gives you full impression on well maintained middle ages Christian culture of Svaneti region. Even if you hate museums its must visit. Just to get more understanding about Svaneti culture, you can visit and open Laghami church in Mestia to have a glance on the frescoes rich in heavenly colors. All these, with Kvirike and Lamaria churches are proof why Svaneti is the best region of Georgia – with one of the richest cultural heritage along with highest summits and beautiful easily accessible glaciers.

Laghami Church, Mestia

Furthermore, you can get to Latali village and do Mkheri hike – the most impressive hike for 1 day or just enjoy the countryside, Hike from Mestia to Mazeri via Guli pass and do Ushba glacier hike there, do 1 day jeeptour to Ushguli which is must, unless you are doing Georgia’s most popular trek – from Mestia to Ushguli. You can also do the first part of this trek but its recommended to hike up to Panorama ridge.

Mestia by Giorgi Nikolava (Tetnuldi summit on the background)

You can get to Mestia by night train (20gel or more) to Zugdidi and then bus (15 gel) to Mestia which waits for night train and you can be in Mestia by 10-11am. You can also get to Mestia by cheap flight 65 gel from Tbilisi but its less reliable. Bus from Tbilisi is not recommended. Organized jeep is recommended if you want to visit some sights on the way like uplistsikhe, Martvili canyons, Kutaisi sights etc.

For the gps track of Koruldi ridge hike please see:

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For the map for other gps tracks of points of interest:

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