Hiking in Georgia: The best options for exploring the Caucasus on foot

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Hiking in Georgia: The best options for exploring the Caucasus on foot
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There are not many places in the world where you can find such a rich combination of nature, culture, and history. If you go trekking in Georgia, you will find yourself on some of the most unspoiled hiking trails of Europa and you are likely to experience the hospitality and beauty of the highest permanently inhabited village of Europe: Ushguli. If you are ready to do something different this year and want to go explore the Caucasus, your journey starts right here. Below we will share with you the best hiking trails in Georgia so you can start planning your Georgia trekking adventure in the Caucasus!

Trekking on the Georgian Caucasus

The Caucasus formed mainly because of a tectonic plate collision between the Arabian plate moving northwards with respect to the Eurasian plate. As the Tethys Sea was closed and the Arabian Plate collided with the Iranian Plate and was pushed against it and with the clockwise movement of the Eurasian Plate towards the Iranian Plate and their final collision, the Iranian Plate was pressed against the Eurasian Plate. This resulted in the creation of the Caucasus Mountains. As a result, over 50% of Georgia is mountainous.

Although most of Georgia consists out of what is called the lesser Caucasus, there is also the North, where Georgia shares the Greater Caucasus with Russia, and some in the East, where Georgia borders Azerbaijan. In the North of Georgia, it becomes interesting for trekking enthusiasts. Here you will find the beautiful areas of Svaneti, Racha, Khevi, Khevsureti, and Tusheti. Don’t be mistaken, however. In the South, there is Borjomi and closer to the coast you can find Adjara. Both also offer some spectacular hiking possibilities.

Trekking on the Georgian Caucasus

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Best hiking trails in Georgia - Your Options

It is not easy to make an informed decision when it comes to trekking in Georgia. Do you go South or East? Do you go North? If yes, how do you get there? Can you start from Tbilisi or do you have to travel halfway through the country to find someone who can show you the way?

Tourism has come a long way in Georgia and there are more and more companies popping up that can show you where to go trekking and can take you on guided trekking tours. The most popular options we hear you asking?

1. Trekking in Svaneti

On the Svaneti Trek you are through flower-strewn alpine meadows, cross passes and you get to see some of the highest peaks of Georgia. Keep reading if you are looking for an itinerary.

2. Kazbegi Trekking

Trekking in Kazbegi in the North of the country evolves around Mount Kazbek and famous little landmarks like the Gergeti Trinity Church which is pictured above. This trek in the Kazbegi region is really a cracker of an adventure.

3. Tusheti to Khevsureti via Atsunta Pass (Omalo to Shatili)

Tusheti and Khevsureti are arguable the most remote regions of Georgia. We don’t know what’s more exciting; The actual trek from Omalo to Shatili or the drive there, which is considered to be one of the most dangerous roads in the world.

Best hiking trails in Georgia - Your Options

Hiking in North Georgia: Trekking in Svaneti

If you are looking for the best trekking thrill in Georgia, you should come to Svaneti. Mestia and Ushguli are two medieval towns in the Greater Caucasus. Here you will find yourself in Upper Svaneti, an area that really deserved its spot on the Unesco World Heritage List. The area is famous for Svan towers: A typical Svan fortified dwelling consisted of a tower, an adjacent house, known as machub, and some other household structures encircled by a defensive wall.

Ushguli is a community of four villages and at an altitude of 2.100 meters (6,890 feet), it is the highest continuously inhabited settlement in Europe. We hear you asking how many people actually live in Ushguli. Where Mestia is home to about 2000 living souls, Ushguli only has about 200 inhabitants.

On the Svaneti Trek, you are through flower-strewn alpine meadows, cross passes and you get to see some of the highest peaks of Georgia: Shkara (5152 meters - 16,900 feet), Janga (5.059 meters - 16,600 feet), Tetnuldi (4.858 meters - 15,930 feet), and Ushba (4.710 meters - 15,450 feet). Staying at local guesthouses, you really get a sense of what life has been and is like in this beautiful mountain wonderland.

Hiking in North Georgia: Trekking in Svaneti

Georgia hiking adventure in Svaneti: Itinerary

This itinerary is based on the 8-day Svaneti Trek as offered by TrekGeorgia.
Day
1

Tbilisi- Enguri Dam -Mazeri

In the morning we travel to Svaneti. On the way, we stop in Zugdidi and visit Dadiani palace which was a place of local lord governing the significant part of Western Georgia. Afterward, we depart for the Enguri dam which is one of the highest arch dams in the world(a height of 271.5 meters). Then we drive to the region of Upper Svaneti which is an outstanding example of an exceptional mountain landscape composed of highly preserved villages with unique defensive tower houses, examples of ecclesiastical architecture and arts of medieval origin. We drive to Mazeri village and overnight there.

Mazeri

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Mazeri
Day
2

Mazeri-Ushba Waterfalls-Mazeri

Duration: 05:00 h
Distance: 14 km
In the morning, we will start our hiking from the village Mazeri. We will follow upstream to Dolra river. The path passes mineral water springs, a small church with a picturesque location, beautiful meadows, then ascends slowly in the path of beautiful pine forests until it reaches the border post from where the last ascent starts. Afterward, we will return to Mazeri village.

Mazeri

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Mazeri
Day
3

Mazeri-Guli Pass – Koruldi Lakes – Mestia

Duration: 08:00 h
Distance: 16 km
?In the morning, we will start another marvelous hike. We hike to Koruldi lakes through Guli Pass. Guli pass is at the elevation of 2960m and needs good physical effort to ascend. After Guli pass, we descend into another valley and reach easily to Koruldi Lakes. Koruldi lake is a small alpine lake but is surrounded by great impressive mountainous peaks including Ushba. Overnight at a guesthouse in Mestia.

Mestia

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Mestia
Day
4

Mestia – Zhabeshi

Duration: 06:00 h
Distance: 16 km
In the morning, we will start actual trekking. We will hike to the Mulakhi community of Zhabeshi village. The route is easy, follows an off-road car and well-marked trail. Overnight at a guesthouse in Zhabeshi with shared facilities.

Zhabeshi

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Zhabeshi
Day
5

Zhabeshi – Adishi

Duration: 06:00 h
Distance: 10 km
After breakfast, we start our journey into the wilderness. We hike up to the slopes of Tetnuldi mountain, pass ski resort and descend into the forests of birch trees and rhododendron bushes. After passing a mountainous small river, the alpine meadows will be in front of us. Here is located Adishi village which consists of stone towers and houses built several centuries ago. Its beautiful location, just below Tetnuldi mountain, on the right bank of the roaring mountainous river and between the high mountains with local architecture makes this village so special and picturesque. Overnight at a local guesthouse with shared facilities.

Adishi

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Adishi
Day
6

Adishi – Iprali

Duration: 08:00 h
Distance: 17 km
In the early morning, we will start our Svaneti Adventure. Here we follow upstream to the river. After one hour of pleasant walking across the river, we need to cross the roaring Adishi river. For our safety, we will get on horseback and cross the river. Afterward, we will climb up to the Chkhunderi pass (2655m). From here you can enjoy majestic panoramic views of the picturesque Adishi Glacier. After having lunch on the top of the ridge and enjoying with views, we will descend into the valley of the Khaldechala river. After two hours of easy walk, we reach Khalde village which was destroyed in the 19th century by the Russian soldiers. From here our pass will follow an off-road to Iprali village. Overnight at a local guesthouse with shared facilities in Iprali.

Iprali

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Iprali
Day
7

Iprali -Ushguli-Mestia

Duration: 05:00 h
Distance: 10 km
In the morning, we trek through traditional Svani villages. After passing by Kala and Davberi villages, we are trekking through forest and reach Ushguli from above. Ushguli is located at the foot of mount Shkara and at the confluence of the rivers Enguri and Kvishiri. The highest permanent settlement in Europe (2200 m) with the outstanding mixture of the mountainous landscapes and the medieval-type towers and churches will astonish visitors. Here you will visit the Ushguli Ethnographic museum located in the 12th-century old Svanetian tower-house. We also visit a medieval Lamaria church ( of the assumption of the Mother of God). Overnight in Mestia.

Mestia

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Mestia
Day
8

Mestia-Tbilisi

Duration: 03:00 h
Distance: 5 km
After breakfast, we will depart to Tbilisi. On our way, we will visit Chalaadi glacier. We will follow upstream of Mestiachala river and after 1,5 km, we reach our finish, a place where the river is born. Afterward, we travel to Tbilisi.
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Best Season for Trekking in Georgia

If you are looking to go trekking in Georgia, you should know that this is not possible all year round. Because of the altitude and the wintery conditions, most of the year you would need to bring your snowboard or skis. If that is what you are after, you should consider Gudauri, Georgia’s biggest ski resort.

For trekking, the best time is from the second half of June till late September. If you are less picky on the season, you can also get round in May and in October, but these months are not suitable for the treks at higher altitudes. Late May, early June the roads to Tusheti and Khevsureti will open.

If you want to do some serious multiday trekking, you should wait till late June – this is when nature looks its best: flowers bloom and trees get greener. The problem is that May and June belong to the rainy season. In July and August weather becomes more stable and dry: this is the best period to trek. These nice weather conditions tend to last until the end of September, but you never know in the mountains.

Best Season for Trekking in Georgia

How do I get to Georgia?

The most common and easiest way to get to Georgia is to fly to Tbilisi International Airport (TBS). Airlines such as Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, Georgian Airways, and Ukraine International Airlines are some of the carriers that have a regular schedule for Tbilisi. You can check all the airlines that fly to Georgia here.

Once you arrive to the Airport it is very easy to get to the city center either by bus, train or taxi. The public bus stop is located in front of the Arrival hall and provides transportation to the city center 24/7. One way fee is 0.50 Georgian Lari (0.20 USD).

Taxis are available outside the terminal, just at the curbside of the Arrival Hall and it is also available all day. The journey time to the city center takes 20-30 minutes dependent on traffic. The taxi fee is around 30 to 50 GEL (11 to 20 USD). Although the train is a fast and cheap option (0.20 USD), trains don’t run very often.

What to pack for my Georgia trekking adventure

Your gear is your best friend while being out in the mountains. It, in fact, doesn’t matter where you are going, your equipment is key. In extreme cases, gear can make the difference between life and death. In every case, the right equipment can make the difference between you having a good time and ending up miserable. Trekking in Georgia is very similar to trekking in the Alps. Just note that that you will not be seeing any large towns or malls for a good few days in a row, so get prepared. Getting prepared you can also do in Tbilisi. You don't need to drag everything into the plane.

Before we start, note one important thing; we are trekking, not climbing. Hence, you can leave the ropes, the chalk and the carabiners in your closet.

Packs to Carry

If you have to carry something for a prolonged time and you choose what you carry, then don’t compromise. The bags that you bring on your trekking should be of decent quality and you want to be used to them. Don’t swap a winner backpack for a new untested one a week before you head out. Assuming you will have porters to assist you on your trek, you need the following:

  • Duffel bag
  • Rucksack with rain cover
  • Daypack

Happy Feet

We don’t always give our feet the attention they deserve. That may sound weird to you, but just think about what they have all done for you. You can’t go anywhere without your feet. So for your upcoming trekking in Georgia, you better make sure you look after them. Or do you want blisters en route to Ushguli?

  • Hiking boots
  • Sandals or shoes
  • Hiking socks
  • Trekking poles (Only if you know how to use them)
  • Inner socks

Dress for the Occasion

You don’t have to go overboard when it comes to your trekking gear. Find a healthy balance between comfortable and durable. If you are new to trekking or you only do it once a year, you don't need to invest in high-end expedition gear.

  • Thermal baselayer
  • T-Shirts
  • Fleece pullover or jacket
  • Light weight thermal tops
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Sports bra for her
  • Hiking shorts
  • Hiking pants
  • Waterproof pants

Sleep Is Everything

A good night of sleep is the best recovery. Your wellness during trekking relies partly on the energy you are tanking in the night. When you are staying in guesthouses, you don't need to worry about this section too much. Guesthouses in Georgia are very comfortable. If you are on your own in the mountains, take note of the following:

  • Sleeping bag
  • Pillow
  • Earplugs

Get Cover

There are multiple reasons for covering your head. Whether it’s sun, snow or rain: It is likely it strikes your head first. Protect yourself against sun rays and bring something that keeps you dry when it gets rough.

  • Wool hat
  • Sunhat
  • Buff
  • Sunglasses

Some Extras

No one is the same and everyone has his own level of comfort. There will be things missing on this list, simply because you attach more value to them than others. Bring what you want to bring. The next things are definitely worth bringing:

  • Sunscreen
  • Water bottles
  • Head lamp
  • Wet wipes
  • Sanitizer
  • Creams
  • Pain medication
  • First aid kit
  • Towel
  • Toiletries

Leave This in the Closet

There always things that you can just leave at home. Light and Fast: The lighter your backpack, the easier your life on the trails will be. Ease is a joy. Here is what you should not bring along.

  • Leather
  • Jeans
  • Unnecessary electronics
  • Jewelry
  • Classic towel

One last thing: Whatever you pack, make sure you don’t overpack. Someone needs to carry all that stuff and that person is you.

What to pack for my Georgia trekking adventure

Tipping while on a trekking tour in Georgia

Tipping is a common practice if you get assistance from anyone all over the world. Especially in Nepal and while climbing Kilimanjaro, where you get assistance from both guides and porters. In Georgia tipping is not expected but it still fairly common practice. If you book an organized trek, it is common to tip 10% to 15% of the total price to your guide. You, however, only need to do this when your expectations are met and you are happy about your experience.

How to train for hiking in Georgia, Europe?

If you live anywhere else other than the Alps, it will be hard to get your legs ready for higher altitudes. This is why we have to be clear upfront: Unless you have hiked at a higher altitude before, it will be difficult to get a 100% ready for your adventure. If that sounds bad to you, then comfort yourself with the fact that there is absolutely no need to be 100% ready. You are not climbing K2 or Mount Elbrus and not running a mountain race. This is trekking. In fact, you are actually supposed to take it easy. It doesn’t matter how fit you are, once you are out there on the trails, you have to stick to your own pace. But of course, the fitter you are, the more you can enjoy your days. Let’s get ready!

Hike and Hike Even More

One solid approach to get the hang of what you do is to rehearse. The best practice for climbing is climbing. Seeing that you are keen on a multi-day trekking experience, we accept that you enjoy walking. Awesome, do it more. If you are fortunate to be encompassed by some hills or even mountains, the time has come to see them all the more frequently. When? In the event that you are new to this, we recommend beginning a half year the start of your trek, essentially going for 60 minutes (or two) climb seven days. When you get the hang of it, after around three weeks, you will have an ideal opportunity to reinforce your power. Convey a pack of 10 to 15kg and include a more drawn out climb of three hours to your week. On the off chance that this way of life is different to you, you will before long receive the rewards of this moderate exercise.

Health Benefits

Some of the health benefits of trekking and hiking include a lower risk of heart disease, improved blood pressure and sugar levels and of course it helps to control your weight. Once you are ready for the hills, it only gets better. According to Gregory Miller, president of the American Hiking Society, "a 5% to 10% incline equals a 30% to 40% increase in calorie burn.” Our personal health benefits are a clearer mind and an elevated mood. Trekking keeps us sane. After a good few months of solid hiking, it is time to put your endurance to the test. Do back to back long hikes. You can simulate a few days of constant trekking by going hiking for a few days. Easy at that. Plan a smaller trekking holiday or keep it simple by hiking your favorite route on repeat. If you are comfortable hiking for 4 hours a day, 3 days in a row while carrying a 10kg to 15kg backpack, you will be fine.

Get Stronger

One misconception about trekking is that the ascent is the hardest on your body. Wrong. Descending is actually very demanding. When you hike downhill, your quadriceps is being put to work. If you notice any overly sore muscles and weak spots in your quads while going out on hikes, it can be wise to add some strengthening exercises to the mix. If your quads and glutes are suffering, your knees and ankles might also take too much strain.

One way to get stronger is to do some basic exercises. You don’t need a gym membership, as merely using your bodyweight can already give you the results you are looking for. Once or twice a week, depending on how you are feeling, you can do two sets of 10 lunges, 10 squats, and 10 step-ups. If you want to push yourself a bit more, you can try to add some pull-ups and push up to your routine. Going the extra mile in your strengthening is, however, really not necessary. You can already enjoy trekking when you just stick to the basics. This is not a fitness competition.

Elevation Simulation

An elevation mask is an elevation reproduction gadget that restrains your intake of oxygen. Usually utilized by endurance athletes who contend at a higher altitude. Likewise, hikers and trekkers can also benefit from it. When you are going trekking in Georgia, there is definitely no compelling reason to go this far, yet in the event that it settles your stresses, you out it an attempt. On the off chance that you are thinking about to roll out exceptional improvements in your way of life, always make sure to consult a medical professional first. Especially if you want to mimic altitude.

Safety tips for the Georgia

Although this is far from being a trek in the Himalayas, unexpected things can always happen and you might also find obstacles on the hiking trails along the way. The Georgia is safe, the trails are quite straight forward and there is not an extreme difference in altitude. However, for your safety, every hike deserves a level of respect; respect for the terrain, the trails, wildlife and vegetation, local rules and regulations, and above all, your physical capabilities and safety. Therefore, for an unforgettable and safe hiking memory, please keep the following safety recommendations in mind:

  • Know your limits

    Always prepare each stage carefully to use your energy wisely, respect your physical and mental limitations, and avoid taking unnecessary risks. When ascending or descending, if applicable, always use the aids provided, such as handrails and ropes. Is this trek suitable for you? Well, familiarize yourself with the grading system and figure out if this trek matches your capabilities. If you still need professional advice you can always contact Bookatrekking.com experts.

  • Stay on marked trails

    The most important thing is to never leave the marked paths. For easy navigation we work with our trusted partner Komoot, whose interactive maps, also available offline, provide you with the necessary digital means to get from A to B in the Georgia. As a backup, make sure to bring a hiking guide or a paper map with you.

  • Fully equipped

    Make sure you have the necessary gear for the conditions you'll be facing, including appropriate clothing, footwear, and any necessary equipment for the terrain you'll be hiking on. Always wear clothing adapted to the weather of Georgia and protect yourself from cold and wetness or heat and sun. Besides, make sure you carry enough food and water for the duration of your trek. On the way, you might (or might not) be able to buy snacks.

  • Stay reachable

    If you are hiking solo or in small groups it is advisable to inform people back home about your plans, what route you are taking and when you plan to return. Even small incidents can lead to unpleasant emergencies so make sure you are available at all times. Bring a charged phone containing at least the phone numbers of immediate family members, your accommodations en route and the emergency phone numbers operating in the Georgia.

  • Respect for nature

    Do not litter, prevent noise, stay on the marked trails, do not disturb wildlife or grazing animals, and respect protected areas.

Where can I book my walking holiday in Georgia?

At Bookatrekking.com you can book many treks in Georgia. We take care of all the details for you, give you personal trekking advice and give you the best service possible. Find all our offers for Georgia here. Our easy-to-use platform allows you to browse and compare different trekking options and find the perfect fit for your interests, abilities, and budget.

If you have any questions about a specific trek or need help choosing the right one for you, our team of Trekking Experts is here to assist you. Simply reach out to us and we will be happy to provide you with personalized recommendations and advice to help you plan the trekking adventure of a lifetime.

Is a walking holiday in Georgia not your cup of tea and are you looking for other epic adventures? Check out one of our following blog posts:

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