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Mountain-lovers’ Guide to Georgia – Karavanly

Mountain-lovers’ Guide to Georgia

Georgia is not all about churches, wine tours in Kakheti, or Black Sea resorts. Untouched nature, medieval defense towers, towering Caucasus peaks, distinctive cuisine, and exotic vibe in the mountainous regions of Georgia will leave you dwarfed and impressed beyond words.

And the best part? You don’t need to be a hard-core hiker to be able to enjoy that. From advanced trekking, horse-riding, to easy day-hikes and jeep tours, there’s always a way that works best for you to explore these not-to-miss mountain destinations in Georgia.

Tusheti

© Sebastian Leonhardt/flickr

In the northeast of Georgia, lies the most isolated region of Georgia – Tusheti. Boasting with untouched nature, unique atmosphere, and stunning views of the 3000m high ridge of the Great Caucasus, the highland reminds of a serene, stuck-in-time dreamland.

Each of Tusheti’s central valleys – Pirikiti, Gometsari, and Chaghma – is distinguished by spectacular nature and historical sights. Wander through the plains near the main village Omalo and explore the medieval Keselo Fortress offering sweeping views of the town and surrounding hills. Hike up to Oreti Lake, nestled south of Omalo, for breathtaking postcard views of the whole Tusheti.

© Orientalizing/flickr

Walk to the village of Shenako, located 6.4km away from Omalo, to have a glimpse of the village life and visit the old church of the Holy Trinity. Head towards the villages of Dartlo, Parsma, and Girevi in Pirikiti Valley by trekking, jeep or on horseback. These are the most well-preserved villages offering fairytale-like scenery with medieval defense stone towers popped up in lush meadows against the backdrop of high altitude peaks.

To get to Omalo, 4WD or jeep taxis from Kvemo Alvani or Telavi take the only road connection between Tusheti and the lowlands – a spectacular yet treacherous serpentine dirt road crossing through the 2849m high Abano Pass.

Khevsureti

© ErWin/flickr

Nestled between the more famous Tusheti and Kazbegi, Khevsureti is a historical-ethnographic region rich in majestic mountains, fortified villages, wild rivers, abandoned settlements, pristine lakes and ancient shrines, while with merest tourist infrastructure.

Shatili is home to a unique set of medieval and early modern fortified lodgings constructed from stones. Marvel through the almost abandoned village and explore houses and fortresses spectacularly interwoven with each other.

Situated on a rocky hill, Mutso is home to about 30 medieval fortified houses built on vertical terraces above the Mutso-Ardoti Gorge. The scenery is astonishing to experience and the area is even more deserted than Shatili.

© Genadi Yakolev/flickr

Khevsureti is also known for its pristine and magical colorful lakes of Abudelauri, located in the vicinity of village Roshka. These three lakes are of green, blue, and white colors, nuzzled at the foot of Chaukhi Massif in the alpine zone at 2500m above the sea level.

For those with a strong heart, Khevsureti offers a quirky place to explore in a remote area near Chechnya border. Anatori Vaults are stacked with an enormous amount of human bones, which belonged to those who went for self-isolation in small caves when Black Death hit the village of Anatori hard centuries ago.

© Ruukivi/flickr

Khevsureti is accessible by 4×4 from Tbilisi. For the more adventurous ones, take a two-day hike from Juta to Roshka via a beautiful Arkhoti Valley crossing two mountain passes, small streams, blueberry bushes, and plateaus. Or the five-day Omalo-Shatili trek incorporating the highlights of both regions via pursuing shepherds’ old trail connecting the areas.

Racha

© Tamar Gogrichiani/flickr

Often overlooked and skipped by tourists, Racha is a hidden gem for mountain-lovers encompassed by the Greater Caucasus peaks, wild nature, and beautiful lakes. The picturesque nature has earned Racha the name “Little Switzerland of the Caucasus” minus slopes and ski resorts.

Hike through meadows filled with wildflowers from Ghebi village (or by jeep) to Gona, a small village often called the “Georgian Switzerland” with towering snow-covered Caucasus mountains, medieval hall church, and old idyllic wooden houses scattered on lush meadows. You can also trek to the Shoda summit, passing through abandoned Lagora huts and St. George Church along with the Shoda-Kedela range.

© Temo Berishvili/flickr

Breathe in the freshest air in Shovi famous for gorgeous pine forests and carbonated water. Hike up to the Racha’s one of the most beautiful lakes – Udziro (translated as “bottomless” in English.) This magnificent trek climbs to a small alpine lake at 2800m above the sea level offering fantastic views of the dramatic Caucasus summits.

Ambrolauri is the main city of Racha. Oni, nestled in a deep gorge of Rioni River, is known for its Synagogue and the once powerful historic Jewish community. Both serve as a perfect base to explore the area.
 

Get a taste of the idyllic nature and savor Rachuli wine with regional delicacy along the ride through Racha with your Karavanly travel pass!

Svaneti

© Andrei Bortnikau

Home to four out of the ten highest peaks of the Caucasus, one of the highest settlements in Europe and iconic medieval defense towers, Svaneti has become one of the most popular tourist destinations among other mountain areas of the country.

Mestia, the central town of Upper Svaneti, is a mishmash of at least ten settlements, dotted with charming Svan towers. The townlet is an excellent base for hiking and excursions in the area.

Take a day hike to Chalaadi Glacier and enjoy panoramic views of the snow-covered peaks along the way. Alternatively, challenge the classic trail to Koruldi alpine lakes lying at the bottom of Mt. Ushba to marvel at the spire-shaped double summit reflected in crystal clear water.

© Wim Van De Meerendonk/flickr

Take the cable car at Hatsvali Ski Resort up Mt. Zuruldi and enjoy a sip with the dazzling views of Tetnuldi peak and the rest of the range. To get away from the crowded Mestia, head to Ushguli, where it feels like time stands still, with medieval defense towers spotted along the slopes dominated by snow-covered Mt. Shkara, the highest peak of the country.

Marshrutkas run from Zugdidi and Kutaisi directly to Mestia through winding roads. Availability of direct flights (a twin prop) between Mestia and Tbilisi is susceptible to wind and weather conditions.

Guria

© Giorgi Natsvaladze/flickr

Ever wanted to feel as if you were standing above the clouds? This western region nestled along the Black Sea offers mind-blowing highland resorts of Bakhmaro and Gomis Mta, where the sun sets and rises through the sea of clouds that wraps around below the hilltops.

Enclosed with coniferous forests and dotted wooden houses sitting on those slopes at 2000m above the sea level, Bakhmaro is a village nestled in the valley ideal for getting some fresh air away from the city. The highlight here is to hike up the “Sunrise Mountain” at the altitude of 2505m to greet the first rays of the sun coming from the sea of clouds.

© Vakho Kareli

Perched on the edge of the mountain and surrounded by dense pine and fir forests, Gomis Mta, which lacks infrastructure, is a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of civilization. And if Bakhmaro is the place to watch the sunrise, Gomis Mta is perfect for the opposite – watching the sun setting at the endless skyline of clouds.
 

Unfortunately, Gomis Mta is not accessible by public transport. Not to worry! We’ve got you covered and included it in your Karavanly travel pass. Ride with us and share such stunning experience above the clouds together!

 
There are amazing hiking and horse-riding opportunities for multi-day stay at both places, including a trail that connects Bakhmaro and Gomis Mta, and a trek from Bakhmaro to Ghorjomi village in the neighboring Adjara region.

Adjara

© Max Benidze/flickr

Often overlooked by visitors going for the seaside escape, mountainous Adjara, or Upper Adjara as locals call it, is known for its remoteness and unique culture and traditions that are very different from other parts of Georgia.

Explore Beshumi filled with coniferous and alpine plants, offering marvelous natural landscape, mineral spring sources, and lakes. Hike towards the Green Lake, tucked between hills covered with beech and spruce forests and surrounded by alpine meadows.

Visit Ghorjomi to see the lives of Muslim Georgians (the majority of mountainous Adjara inhabitants) who converted during the Ottoman rule, and marvel at the exquisite architecture of the largest wooden mosque in Georgia.

© David & Bonnie/flickr

Enjoy refreshing nature in the cozy little town Khulo sitting on an ancient road connecting Samtskhe-Javakheti with the Black Sea coast. Thrilled at a Soviet-era cable car ride that stretches 1700m across the river gorge up to Tago, a small village with breathtaking views of the valley.

Or follow the new route of Chirukhi-Khikhani-Goderdzi connecting Shuakhevi and Khulo municipalities, and wander through alpine meadows and pastures, waterfalls, picturesque lakes, and the 13th century Khikhani fortress.

Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park

© Kristen Hartmann/flickr

Wild nature, scenic panoramic views all around, and unforgettable emotions await you at Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park, with twelve well-marked hiking trails that can be covered in one or several days.

The highlight of the park is its Panorama Trail, which is considered as one of the most fascinating treks. This two-day, circular trail from Atskuri offers not only striking panoramic views of the surrounding nature but also wild goats cage and animal footprints, along with shepherds shelters to learn more about their lifestyle and stay overnight.

Lagodekhi National Park

© Giorgimailo/WikiCommons

Enjoy a nice walk in the untouched nature of Lagodekhi Protected Areas located on the southern slopes of the Caucasus, bordering Azerbaijan and Dagestan. Take the most impressive trails of the area towards Black Rock Lake, a natural border with Dagestan found at 3500m above the sea level.

Experience how nature changes along the way from dancing beech forests to sub-alpine meadows and alpine wetlands, while enjoying astounding views of the Caucasus mountains and Alazani valley.

© Paata Vardanashvili/WikiCommons

If a three-day trekking seems too heavy for you, hike to Ninoskhevi Waterfall, one of the most attractive waterfalls in the country. Follow the narrow path of the river and take pleasure in the burbling of the river, cool breeze rambling through the valley, together with climbing over huge stones and exploring small waterfalls.

Got intrigued and don’t want to miss out on the opportunities to conquer the mountainous regions of Georgia?

Take advantage of the flexibility of having optional stopovers with your Karavanly travel pass! You can easily fit in a three or four-day excursion at any stops along the route, and take your time to wander and meander through the wild nature Georgia has to offer.

Not sure how to fit any of these spots in your Karavanly ride? Get in touch! We’re happy to help.

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