Ushguli, Svaneti - Georgia

Georgia travel guide and photography series

Welcome in Sakartvelo

Amazing Georgia aka Sakartvelo put everything in the blender of cultures, countries, languages and people and there you have Georgia. With Breathtaking landscapes, delicious food, friendly people and crazy Marshrutka drivers. Check for travel guide and the photos.


I flew from Istanbul to the capital of Georgia Tbilisi. From there I made my journey though the country. The capital is different from the rest of the country. More an international city with a mix of old and new, progressive and conservative, religions etc. Tbilisi got a great old town with plenty of historic buildings and sites. And at the end of the day you drink a glass of wine on those typical balconies with Khachapuri.

Kazbegi (Stepantsminda region)

From Tbilisi it is easy to travel from Didube bus station - connected by the Tbilisi metro netwerk - to  Kazbegi. You go by either shared mini taxi/van (20 Lari - one way) or by Marshrutka (10 Lari - one way). Beware the taxi or minibus doesn't leave immediately they leave when the taxi or bus is full. When you share a taxi the driver stop over the famous military highway at the Zhenvali water reservoir, Ananuri Fortress and the Georgian-Russian friendship monument.

The Kazbegi region is near the russion border in the heart of the East Caucasus. You do several trekking through the mountains. The two main hikes is the hike to the trinity church and a day hike to the Kazbegi glacier. Beware the glacier hike is though on a hard level. 1600 meter of elevation altitude 3200 meters but the end is rewarding. If you are an alpine climber you can even climb further to the weather station on the glacier. For me it was enough to reach the foot of the glacier.

Kazbegi - Tbilisi - Zugdidi - Mestia

From Kazbegi I travel the whole way to Mestia the North West corner of the Caucasus near the russion border and the autonomous region of Abkhazia. First I took a Marshrutka bus back to Tbilisi. I spend a half a day in Tbilisi with some old friends during the night I took the night train from Tbilisi station to Zugdidi this takes 8 hours and you arrive at 06.00 am in the morning. In Zugdidi many Marshrutka drivers awaits you to take you to Mestia (20 Lari) this last part of the trip takes 3 hours.

Svaneti: Mestia & Ushguli

This region called Svaneti it was in ancient times one of the most isolated places in Georgia. That's a good thing because the famous Svaneti culture still exist today in people, local dialect, food and especially the historic buildings. Those typical watchtowers you see them everywhere. In Mestia I spend 2 days. The first day I walked up to the Chalaati glacier an easy hike compared with the Kazbegi hike. You walk between 5 up to 6 hours. You reach the foot of the Chalaati glacier. Beware not go to close to the glacier. Some people do and get injured because of fallen rocks... they forget a glacier is moving ice.


The second day I went to Ushguli by bus on a rainy day. A lot of people hike the whole way from Mestia to Ushguli. This will take 4 days and 3 nights. The fast trekkers do it in 3 days. Check for more trekkings here. Buy a ticket before or a few hours before in several travel agencies at the main square. Don't wait for taxi drivers or minibus drivers filling the van up. Offseason is very hard. So buy a ticket at the local travel agency. For now the road to Ushguli is not finished yet so it is a long ride on a dirt track. Ushguli is amazing so isolated so beautiful between green hills and in the back the Ushguli glacier. You have to see it by yourself


After a few days I continue my journey back inland. To the second largest city Kutaisi. I bought a ticket a day before in Mestia and it took 5 hours to reach this place. Kutaisi a typical Georgian city without the grandeur of Tbilisi. It feels more country-side like city. Still I like this you see the real-authentic Georgian culture. There are not much highlights in Kutaisi so you get easily do the city in one day. Like the Gelati Monastery, Bagrati Cathedral, the market hall (my favorite!) and the old town of Kutaisi.

Surroundings Kutaisi

After you spend your day in Kutaisi you can ride or you can do a tour to the surroundings of Kutaisi. The most notable spots are the Okatse Canyon and Martvili Canyon just 50 minutes away from Kutasi. In Martvili Canyon you can either swim or take a boat through the canyon on water. Other spots are the Prometheus Cave and Katskhi pillar.

In conclusion

Georgia is my first introduction of the trans eurasia region. I like this a lot it got a perfect mix of natural parks and breathtaking views, historic and ancient sites, laid back beaches near the black sea and a special culture and food. As mentioned a culture that is total new flavor came out of the blender. It got something Persian, Russian, Turkish & European.... no actually not it is just Georgian!

Check here the photos

Tbilisi - capital of Georgia
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Kazbegi - Georgia
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Svaneti region - Mestia and Ushguli. Georgia
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Kutaisi - Georgia
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