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The trips offers the chance to trek in a fascinating, off-beat region that's just being discovered by tourism. Georgia's Svaneti region has its own unique history and culture and lies among the craggy snow-capped peaks and deep gorges of the Greater Caucasus Mountains. Stay with the proud Svantian people in remote villages with their distinctive koshki - medieval defensive stone towers.
Explore Tour Leader
3 nights simple guesthouse
5 nights comfortable hotel
Trip maximum 16 Explore Average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
The trip starts today in Batumi, on the shores of the Black Sea. Batumi is Georgia's second largest city and the capital of its Autonomous Republic of Adjara. It is both an important port and Black Sea holiday resort.
There are no activities planned for today and you are free to arrive at any time although please note that your hotel room may not be available until after 2pm. Airport transfers are available to all customers arriving today into Batumi International Airport (BUS), which is located just a few kilometres south from the city centre. As the flight most likely to be taken by customers travelling from the UK does not arrive until mid-evening, your leader does not plan to hold the welcome meeting until after breakfast tomorrow (day 2).
Should you have time to explore today, we recommend striking out on foot to stroll along the waterfront Promenade which stretches for several kilometres and is very much the beating heart of the city during the summer months, with many open-air cafes and restaurants.
Hotel Aisi (or similar)
Your trip leader plans to meet everyone after breakfast today for a welcome meeting. If you have not already met with the leader, please check the hotel reception area for a notice regarding timings.
After this we set out on our drive north, following the Black Sea coast at first before heading inland, through increasingly dramatic scenery, to the Caucasus Mountains. It's around a 5 hour drive to our destination for the night, the village of Becho in the region of Svaneti. Becho lies close to the Russian border in the shadow of the magnificent Mount Ushba. At 4,710 metres/15453 feet, Ushba is commonly known as the 'Matterhorn of the Caucasus' because of its distinct spire-shaped summit. Situated on the southern slopes of the central Caucasus Mountains and surrounded by 3,000 to 5,000 metre/9843 to 16405 feet peaks, Svaneti is the highest inhabited area in the Caucasus. Its valleys are dotted with beautiful medieval villages where you will see many stone towers, or Koshki, as they are locally known, which were originally built in medieval times to protect the villagers from invaders and provide sanctuary from avalanches. It is an area of stunning natural beauty with glaciers, rivers and coniferous forests. The local people, known as Svans, are a distinct ethnic sub-group with their own language and traditions.
Jena's Guesthouse (or similar)
Today we drive a short distance up the valley to the start point of our trek near the settlement of Mazeri. Our hiking route starts out following the left bank of the Dolra river, ascending gradually through thick forests on a rocky trail. There are some great views of the beautiful Ushba waterfall along the way. Eventually we cross the river on a wooden bridge to reach a small military encampment in the woods. The Russian border is not far away, just over the mountains. From here the route becomes steeper and the path soon leaves the forest to reach the impressive waterfall at the base of Mount Ushba. You can choose to rest at the bottom of the falls or continue on a steep hike all the way to the top. We plan to have a picnic lunch during our hike and enjoy the views before making our way back on the same trail through the forest to our bus.
In the afternoon we drive deeper into Svaneti to Mestia, the main centre in Upper Svaneti and our base for the next 2 nights. Mestia is a large villagemall town sited at an elevation of 1500 metres/4921 feet with a population of over 2,600. It's becoming increasingly popular with Georgians and Russians as small a ski resort in winter (there are a handful of runs outside of the town) and a centre for trekkers in the summer months. Quite a few of the old stone dwellings on the northern side of the town still retain their imposing stone watchtowers and these are illuminated at night, an enchanting sight. At the Margiani House museum you can visit a traditional Svantian home and climb inside one of the watchtowers. The History and Ethnography Museum is well curated with information provided in English and well worth a visit if you are keen to find out more about the Svan culture.
Today's 11 kilometre/6.83 miles walk is expected to take approximately 6 hours with a total ascent and descent of 980 metres/3215 feet if ascending to the top of the falls, 450 metres/1476 feet to the first waterfall.
Suntower Hotel (or similar)
This morning we make a short journey by four-wheel drive vehicles to Jvari. At an altitude of 2150 metres/7054 feet, Jvari is the starting point for our hike to the beautiful mountain lakes of Koruldi which lie at 2750 metres/9022 feet at the foot of Mount Ushba. The views of the surrounding mountains and their snow-covered glaciers is simply stunning. From the top we hope to see several summits including Mounts Tetnuldi (4800metres/15748feet), Laila (4008metres/13150feet) and Chatini (4012metres/13163). We retrace our steps on our return hike to our waiting vehicles and return to Mestia for a second night.
Today's 8 kilometre/4.97 miles walk is expected to take approximately 3 hours with a total ascent and descent of 600 metres/1968 feet.
This morning we drive to Ushguli and as the road condition deteriorates past Mestia we'll travel by four-wheel drive vehicles. There's almost a sense of driving back in time on the journey which culminates with a striking view of the 4 hamlets which make up Ushguli, nestled at the bottom of a steep valley with many brooding medieval watchtowers in sight. Oxen are still used to plough the fields of potatoes and the streets are a often muddy, higgledy-piggledy warren of mainly stone dwellings.
We strike out on the first of our 2 hikes from Ushguli in the afternoon - the ascent of Mount Guro whose 3070 metre/10072 feet summit overlooks the village. The hike starts with a steep climb out of the village and continues steeply upwards through pastures rich with many wildflowers including orchids and wild tulips. We'll take our time to enjoy the views which open up to show us Mount Shkhara (Georgia's highest peak at 5201metres/17064feet), Mount Tetnuldi and Mount Laila. The panorama from the top is simply stunning and we spend time here before making our way back down to the village.
Today's 10 kilometre/6.21 miles walk is expected to take approximately 5 to 6 hours with a total ascent and descent of 800 metres/2624 feet.
Hotel Koshki (or similar)
Mount Shkhara is Georgia's highest mountain, standing at 5201metres/17064feet, it's the eastern anchor of an imposing 12 kilometre/7.45 miles long ridge known as the Bezingi Wall. Our walk to the foot of the glacier at the base of the mountain follows the course of the Enereti River back to its source along a surprisingly flat trail and for the most part we are rewarded with spectacular views of the mountain. Wildflowers carpet the grassy valley and purple orchids can be seen in bloom along the banks of the river. As we reach the final approach to the glacier the path becomes steeper and terrain rockier. Finally we reach the tongue of the glacier, with incredible views up to the craggy, snow-covered sides of Mount Shkhara. We return on the same route to Ushguli.
Today's 18 kilometre/11.18 miles walk is expected to take approximately 6 hours with a total ascent and descent of 320 metres/1049 feet.
This morning we take four-wheel drive vehicles once again for the journey back towards Mestia, stopping en route at the small village of Mulakhi. The vehicles then depart with our main luggage for our hotel in Mestia, while we continue on foot on the final hike of the holiday which takes us all the way back to our hotel. The trail skirts around the side of a valley and passes through several small settlements and takes in superb views of the mountains all the way back to the Mestia valley. We'll enjoy a picnic lunch with views along the trail.
Today's 14 kilometre/8.70 miles walk is expected to take approximately 5 hours with a total ascent of 520 metres/1706 feet and descent of 650 metres/2132 feet.
Leaving the mountains behind us today we make our way back to Batumi via the town of Zugdidi. There should be some time on arrival for a seafront stroll or perhaps head to the city centre to admire some of the city's eclectic architecture. Traditional 19th-century Russian houses, soviet-era apartment building and ultra-modern high-rise constructions lie within a few blocks of each other.
The trip ends today after breakfast at our hotel in Batumi.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like an airport transfer today, you need to depart from Batumi International Airport (BUS), around 15 minutes drive from the city centre.
Total distance : 61 kilometres
Georgia has a temperate climate with warm dry periods from June to September. Early and late in the season, temperatures can drop to sub-zero at higher altitude.
2 Pin Round
Take light and comfortable clothing that can be layered according to the temperature. Pack a good quality waterproof jacket and trousers, fleece jacket, comfortable walking trousers, shorts, t-shirts and a sunhat. Please be aware that temperatures can change dramatically at altitude and at night.
We recommend you bring lightweight walking boots with ankle support, make sure that your boots are worn-in and comfortable before the start of the trip. Also trainers or sandals for relaxing and general wear. We suggest that on international flights you either carry your walking boots in your hand luggage or wear them - should your luggage be lost or delayed, your own boots are the one thing that will be irreplaceable.
One main piece of baggage and daypack.There are no lifts in the accommodations used so make sure you can carry your bag up the stairs.
You will need a water bottle (preferably 2 litres), torch, insect repellent, sunglasses and high factor sun cream. Trekking poles are recommended. Explore have partnered with Water-To-Go who supply 75cl personal water bottles with an in-built filter that eliminates 99.99% of all microbiological contaminants including viruses, bacteria, chemicals and heavy metals. https://watertogo.eu/partnerships/explore/.You can drink from this bottle during the trek, decanting the tap water from your standard water bottle into it. You can also top up your Water-To-Go bottle from mountain streams along the route. Bring a Lunch bag/Tupperware box for your packed lunches which are provided by our accommodations.
Whilst in Svaneti this trips stays in simply furnished, family-run guesthouses and small hotels. Following recent improvements all accommodation now offers en suite facilities. Meals taken at the guesthouses are home-cooked and food plentiful with the opportunity to try a number of Georgian dishes such as lobio (a type of kidney bean stew eaten either hot or cold), khachapuri (cheese-stuffed bread) Sulguni cheese and Mchadi cornbread.
Can you drink the water?
It is generally possible to drink the local tap water, therefore to reduce the need for single-use plastic bottles we recommend you bring a refillable water bottle with you. Your leader will advise you on refill points each day.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
Georgia: Visas are not required for EU nationals, UK, Canadian or US citizens. Other nationalities should consult the relevant consulate. You should confirm all visa related issues with the relevant embassy prior to departure.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
Nothing compulsory but we recommend protection against malaria, typhoid, tetanus, infectious hepatitis and polio. Consult your travel clinic for latest advice on different prophylaxis available against malaria. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.