excl. of flights
7-20 July 2024, 14 days
Stay in guesthouses, 3 nights wild camping
Hiking with daypacks
Max altitude 3,300m
10-12km & 500-1000m vertical per day
Georgia: safe & visa-free
Food and wine to die for
Cheap Wizzair flights to Kutaisi (KUT)
Small group of 5-10
Georgia stands out like no other destination in Europe. With its distinctive alphabet, expressive visual arts, lush forests, trendy one-of-a-kind winemaking, deep-rooted hospitality, and cuisine to die for — this charismatic country would be unmissable even if it were flat as the Netherlands.
The unfathomable scale of the Greater Caucasus’s mountain faces and glaciers, roaring whitewater squeezed into deep gorges, soaring clifftop monasteries, blooming alpine meadows, family-run guesthouses, and extensive network of trails — all that makes Georgia a prime trekking territory impossible to ignore.
This 14-day itinerary is designed for keen hikers and combines Georgia’s most iconic mountain areas: Svaneti and Kazbegi. Having gained altitude acclimatization on the trek, you have the option to scale Mt. Kazbek — a perfect choice for your first 5,000m peak.
In Svaneti, we follow Enguri — Georgia’s second-longest river — upstream from the world’s 7th largest dam to its source in one of the glaciers of the Great Caucasus range. The trekking route literally goes above and beyond mainstream trails by following airy panoramic ridges right in front of ice-capped domes and jagged peaks. The use of pack horses and pre-placed stashes allows us to hike light and camp in the wild with vistas nothing short of extraordinary.
Why come for trekking to Svaneti, Georgia?
Unspoiled Wilderness: Svaneti, located in Georgia’s Caucasus Mountains, offers a refreshingly uncrowded and authentic trekking experience compared to heavily trafficked European routes like Tour du Mont Blanc. In Svaneti, you can camp beside a serene mountain lake and soak in breathtaking sunset in solitude, all within a few hours’ hike from the nearest restaurant!
Cultural Richness: Svaneti boasts a fascinating history and rich cultural heritage, including millennia-old Svan towers and unique cuisine. Witnessing this culture adds depth to your trekking adventure.
Diverse Landscapes: Svaneti surprises with a diverse range of scenery, including primeval conifer forests, glacier-capped peaks, and ancient villages.
Local Hospitality: For generations, Svaneti remained isolated beyond the mountains until locals abandoned beekeeping and fierce blood feuds in favor of running guesthouses in ancient defense towers. Today you will encounter warm and welcoming locals who are eager to share their culture and traditions with you.
Budget-friendly: Georgia is generally more affordable than Western European destinations, making Svaneti an excellent choice for travelers looking to maximize their experience without breaking the bank.
WHAT TO EXPECT
— Experience life in a medieval Svan village where the most ridiculously recent sentry tower was erected merely 700 years ago. Then get your fine arts fix at Tbilisi’s gorgeous museums.
— Teeter along a dizzying mountain road on a 4×4. Then find yourself horseback riding across a blooming alpine meadow, with snow-capped peaks in the distance.
— Drink chacha — the Georgian grappa — with a guesthouse owner and listen to local family legends — with a pinch of aromatic Svanetian salt!
— Get bewitched by Mt. Ushba — the two-horned ‘Matterhorn of the Caucasus’ known as ‘Coven of Witches’ to locals and as ‘the Disaster Mountain’ to climbers, as beautiful as it is deadly.
— Ask the priest for the key and touch the millennia-old stone walls of a charming church. In the evening, savour a few samples of the world’s oldest yet most unorthodox winemaking.
Guiding & organization services, including an English-speaking professional mountain guide on the trek.
All accommodation including guesthouses on the trek (twin rooms whenever available) and 3-4 star hotel in Kutaisi.
Premium quality freeze-dried rations cooked by the guide during the camping days.
All local transfers by private minibuses and 4×4s SUVs. Transfer of gear between campsites.
A day of guided horse riding (optional, if you don’t like horses).
Chairlift and museum in Mestia.
Rental tents. Medical kit. Emergency satellite communication.
International flights to/from Kutaisi (preferred) or Tbilisi.
Snacks e.g. power bars on the trek. You can bring your own or shop locally.
Dinners at guesthouses on the trek and also all eating out a la carte in cities: about €150-200 total. Wine and spirits. Souvenirs.
Travel and trekking insurance that covers medical treatment, hospitalization and repatriation. We will require your insurance details prior to the trip.
Rental of trekking poles, sleeping bag, trekking mat, and other trekking gear, if needed.
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Kutaisi, the second-largest city in Georgia, is located much closer to the mountains than the bustling capital of Tbilisi. Notably, Kutaisi Airport is conveniently served by direct low-cost Wizzair flights from numerous European cities, including Vienna, Prague, Paris, Rome, Barcelona, Memmingen, Brussels, Warsaw, Berlin, and Frankfurt. With flights starting at around €100 return and a travel time of just 3-5 hours from Europe, Georgia is closer than you think!
The city is renowned for its stunning Bagrati Cathedral, an architectural gem dating back to the 11th century, and the enchanting Gelati Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Kutaisi’s charming old town by the river with vibrant streets makes it worthwhile a day stop before heading out into Svaneti’s mountains for trekking.
Getting from the airport to the city center is a breeze, taking approximately 30-40 minutes by taxi. We’ll be staying at a modest yet comfortable and well-rated hotel in the heart of the city. In the evening we dine out together and discuss the upcoming adventure. It is possible to leave any unnecessary stuff — such as city clothing or spare socks — at the hotel in Kutaisi since we will be passing the city on our way back from Svaneti to Kazbegi.
After breakfast, we board a private minivan and head out into the mountains. The net drive time is about 4-4.5 hours. The road winds along the roaring Enguri river gorge with sheer cliffs above and below, and primeval coniferous woods covering the banks.
On the way we stop for a quick tour at the spectacular Enguri dam — a masterpiece of Soviet engineering — which remains the world’s 7th largest and covers up to 40% of Georgia’s electricity demands.
As we approach Mestia — the main village of Svaneti — an enormous twin tower of Mount Ushba comes into view soaring two vertical kilometers above the valley floor. The peak is as beautiful as it is deadly — it is known to climbers as ‘the Matterhorn of the Caucasus’ or ‘the Disaster Mountain’ and as ‘Coven of Witches’ to locals. We turn off to that side valley and stay for the night in a family-run guesthouse in the shadow of Mt.Ushba.
After a hearty breakfast at the guesthouse, we hit the trail through shady primeval conifer forest, following the roaring Dolra river upstream. In a couple of hours, we cross the river over a wooden bridge and pass the borderguards wooden huts where we are greeted with a smile and sometimes even with a warm traditional cheese flatbread — khachapuri!
From there we come right to the base of Georgia’s tallest waterfall — the mighty Shdugra — where we stand in awe as tons of water cascade over a sheer 100-meter drop. While many trekkers turn back here, we opt for the more challenging route, hiking uphill for a few extra hours until we reach the top of the waterfall and stand right next to the roaring stream as it abruptly drops into the abyss below.
We then continue to the improvised monument to all climbers who lost their lives while attempting Mt Ushba. From a vantage point a few hundred meters beyond, we’re treated to an exclusive view of the reverse side of the mountain, with Ushba glacier, the formidable icefall, and the normal route’s ridgeline.
As we descend to the borderguards huts, we enjoy fun and relaxed horseback riding (no experience required!) to the hotel for some 1.5 hours that saves our legs the effort of the remaining 6km and 300 vertical meters.
12km distance, 1000m vertical.
We bid farewell to the guesthouse owner and his family. In about 40 minutes a private minivan takes us to Mestia — Svaneti’s main village. We check in to another guesthouse in the most well-preserved part of the town with narrow cobbled streets and over 25 medieval Svan towers in sight!
After a quick coffee and cake at the town’s best place, a 4×4 minivan takes us a whopping 1,300 vertical meters up along a nerve-wracking dirt track to the famous Koruldi lakes located at a grassy plateau at 2,750m a.s.l. with a 360 panorama of the Svaneti range. From there our trekking route continues for another 600 vertical meters. In 2-2.5 hours of trekking and easy scrambling, we reach the narrow Koruldi ridge soaring right in front of the enormous tower of Mount Ushba and Chalaadi glacier beneath our feet — a sunset view that rivals the most scenic places of the Alps!
We celebrate the day at a restaurant run by a Svan family that owned the place for generations, offering a fine interpretation of otherwise rustic Svan cuisine, including millet flatbread and kubdari — traditional juicy meat pie.
6km, 600m up and down
A chairlift and then a gondola ski lift whisks us from the heart of Mestia to Zuruldi ridge at 2,300m. As we rise some 900m above the valley floor, the breathtaking view of two-horned Mount Ushba opens up. Dominating the valley’s end stands the imposing white pyramid of Mt Tetnuldi, 50 meters taller than the Mont Blanc! On the horizon, the 5,000m-tall summits of the Great Caucasus are rising.
The countless Svan towers of Mestia now appear tiny beneath our feet. Further up the valley, we see Mestia’s airstrip. If we are lucky, we might even catch a glimpse of a landing turboprop plane from Tbilisi veering its way through the deep valley.
We easily follow the scenic ridge trail for a few hours and then descend into charming Tsvirmi village with a 10th-century church. A private minivan in under an hour takes us further along the roaring Enguri river to Iprari village perched on an airy ledge above the river. On the way, we make a quick stop to visit an 11th-century Svan church and a medieval dining hall in Khe village. We stay at a guesthouse and enjoy a hearty dinner, getting ready for tomorrow’s trekking adventure.
10km, 300m up and 770m down
We leave our tents and sleeping bags for the porters or pack horses who will reach tonight’s campsite by taking a dirt track at the valley bottom. At the same time, we start going up Chkhunderi ridge by following a faint trail through the woods that was used by local shepherds generations ago but apparently was forgotten.
As we climb out of the woods and into the alpine zone, the grassy ridge narrows and dramatic ice face rises in front of us. This is the famous ‘Bezengi wall’ — the highest section of the Caucasus mountains which divides Georgia and Russia and boasts a few 5,000m summits.
We continue trekking along the airy ridge as close as we can get towards the massive wall and then descend a steep grassy slope to a cosy wild campsite by a stream, separating us from the glacier bedrock. Our porters are already waiting for us with the tents and soon we’ll be enjoying a hearty dinner cooked on portable stoves.
12km, 1450m up, 1080m down
The porters spend the night next to us and are ready to transfer our tents to the next campsite. We carefully cross Khalde glacier which looks more like a pile of rubble with occasional spots of ice and pools of meltwater. Crampons are not necessary but there is no trail so we have to walk carefully, besides, there are only a few places where the glacier can be crossed.
Back on green grass, we continue trekking towards Karetti pass which is a saddle in the next ridge forking out from Bezengi wall. Once on the saddle, we follow the ridge until we reach Lagem pass. From there we descend a steep but well-trodden trail to Engiri valley where we camp next to a summer cafe — the porters are already waiting for us with our tents and there’s even a chance of well-deserved beer!
Linking Karetti and Lagem pass is one of the wildest yet most spectacular sections of our trekking tour in Svaneti.
15km, 1100m up & 1200m down
After the last two rather strenuous days, today feels almost like a day-off trekking! Without gaining much altitude, we approach Mt Shkhara 5,193m — the highest mountain in Georgia — by following a grassy moraine ridge. Standing beneath a mountain face of Himalayan scale, with its glaciers of unfathomable scale, is one of the main highlights of this trekking trip in Georgia.
We descend back to our camp, and continue hiking with our porters, following the valley as it curves right, towards the source of Enguri river — we saw it dammed at the beginning of the trekking trip.
We pitch our tents by a tiny Nuamquam lake, perhaps, the most beautiful in Svaneti. After dinner, we marvel at the play of sunset hues on the hanging glaciers and observe stars emerge in the sky.
6km, 700m up
After breakfast, we take down our tents and the porters carry them down to the village. We then climb Vakhushti ridge, reaching a high point of 3,153m, and continue trekking down and away from the Shkhara wall, enjoying magnificent views on both sides of the airy ridge. In the afternoon we finally descend to the famous village of Ushguli, squeezed in a narrow valley between steep slopes.
10km, 700m up & 950m down
After three nights in tents, bed linen and hot showers come so enjoyable! Ushguli actually is an agglomeration of four hamlets — Murkmeli, Chazhashi, Chvibiani, and Zhibiani. Our family-run guesthouse is situated in a genuine 12th-century building in the heart of Chazhashi — the only part of Ushguli which is protected as a UNESCO cultural heritage site! It is also famous for being one of Europe’s highest permanent settlements, located at 2,200m above sea level.
During the well-deserved rest day in Ushguli, we visit 9th-century Lamaria church — with its well-preserved frescos, a local museum with ancient crosses, icons, and goblets, and even climb a Svan tower! In the evening we celebrate the end of our week of trekking in Svaneti with piping hot traditional meat pies!
We leave hospitable Svaneti driving a scenic road across Zagar pass and reaching Kutaisi in little more than 4 hours. Having enjoyed a quick lunch in the city, we change cars and continue along a modern highway to Kazbegi, in the very north of Georgia. That takes about 5-6 more hours.
We drive about 40 minutes along a narrow winding road to Juta settlement. Sitting at 2,200m, it rivals Ushguli as one of Europe’s highest settlements. From there we hike in a stunningly beautiful range Choukhi which resembles Italian Dolomites. Provided good conditions, we scramble on a peak with unrivalled views of Mt. Kazbegi 5,047m.
13km, 1170m up & 1170m down
In about 30 minutes of driving from Kazbegi, we reach the famous 14th-century Gergeti Trinity Church perched on a rocky outcrop above the village, with the majestic dormant stratovolcano of Kazbek 5,047m towering in the background. The location is jaw-dropping and the spot is a perfect example of how ancient Georgian architects managed to integrate their buildings into the natural landscape. Soaring high above the valley, the church used to be a hiding place for people and treasures during numerous invasions.
From the church we continue trekking along the rim of a deep canyon towards the edge of the enormous Gergeti glacier at circa 3,300m, using the route that Kazbek climbers take to reach the basecamp next to Bethlemi hut aka meteo station at 3,800m.
We have gently gained altitude acclimatization over the previous week of trekking in the Svanetian mountains so if you are considering bagging your first 5,000m peak it is very reasonable to continue climbing Kazbek from this point of our itinerary. This is available as an optional 5-day extension.
Having descended to Kazbegi village, we celebrate the conclusion of our trekking trip in Georgia by dining at one of the village’s poshest restaurants with panoramic views of the mountains and fine Georgian cuisine. Then a private minivan takes us to the capital of Tbilisi in under 3 hours where we stay for the night in a hotel.
12km, 960m up & 960m down
Flight back home
TRIP EXTENSION: CLIMB MT. KAZBEK 5,047M
Mount Kazbek, known as Mqinvartsveri in Georgian, is a dormant stratovolcano that was seen erupting by ancient Greeks. Expectedly, this is the place where Prometheus was enchained, as the legend has it!
Kazbek is an excellent choice of your first 5,000m peak. It is not on the ‘7 Summits’ list and thus spared from the hordes of eager mountaineers queueing on the nearby Mt. Elbrus.
What’s more, the final day of our trekking itinerary neatly gets you right into Kazbek’s lower basecamp! From there, it takes 5 extra days to reach the summit and return to Tbilisi. By that time you will have already gained some altitude acclimatization which considerably increases your summit chances.
Pack horses carry your climbing gear, making the approach hike truly enjoyable. The climbing route, graded at PD, entails roped glacier walking and scaling a 100m long 35-40 degrees icy section just before the summit. Depending on the conditions, we may use a fixed rope on this section.
Climbing Kazbek is suitable for a reasonably fit and healthy person without previous experience at altitude. You do not need any technical experience either: the guide ensures the safety of the participants during the climb. What’s more, a comprehensive course on safe glacier travel is provided prior to the climb. On the summit day, we maintain 1:3 guide-to-client ratio. It is possible to rent crampons, ice axe and down jacket in Kazbegi village.
Interested in climbing Kazbek to conclude your trekking trip in Georgia? Feel free to reach out for details on costs and availability.
Why travel to Georgia with us?
The unique trekking itinerary takes you to the most spectacular mountain terrain yet carefully avoids the mainstream trails by following untracked panoramic ridges. Strategic use of pack horses and porters allows us to camp in the wild without having to carry heavy packs, while blending both Svaneti and Kazbegi mountain ranges in one trip makes it perfect for first-timers in Georgia.
Personalized pre-trip support: Every client who books with us gets one on one trip preparation phone call, detailed flight, insurance, training and gear recommendations so that you are fully ready for your trip of a lifetime without taking much time from your daily duties. We are chatty and open to questions the moment you get in touch with us. You also get to know your future teammates in WhatsApp and/or e-mail groups.
Small groups: expect to share your adventure with only 4-9 other participants. This translates to better safety thanks to more control and individual attention from the guide. We end up with small and effective teams which ultimately results in a meaningful adventure and lasting friendships.
Safety is the cornerstone: Our trips are backed by emergency satellite communication whenever we venture off the grid. Being certified first aiders, our guides carry extensive first aid kits and have alternative route plans for any unexpected scenarios.
All-inclusive trips. Even if you’re an experienced independent trekker, opting for a guided trekking trip with us allows you to fully immerse yourself in the experience. We draw on our field experience while hand-picking accommodation, arranging reliable transportation, procuring meals, and managing safety. There are no hidden costs and we always give you the idea of any extras you might incur.
We love good food: The rich and healthy meals we cook on the trek got glowing reviews from our guests and are better than you expect. We accommodate any meal preferences or intolerances.
Fair price: We take pride in what we offer and don’t cut corners on our tours. On the other hand, we are not set to rip you off and the price is just comfortable enough for us.
Andrew Golovachev, an IFMGA aspirant ski guide within the guides’ association of Kyrgyzstan, an avid alpine climber, and devoted adventure photographer.
Ran treks, climbs, ski tours and expeditions to Tajikistan Pamirs, Patagonia, Peru, Morocco, Nepal, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Siberia, Caucasus and Kamchatka. A full member of the British Alpine Club. Professional avalanche education: equivalent of Canadian Avalanche Association Level 1 certificate.
Visited over 40 countries, lived in the UK for four years. Certified first-aider.
Sounds exciting? It truly is! We love the place and would be happy to share it with you. Should you have any questions, please check out our FAQ section below. Alternatively, don’t hesitate to send us your inquiry using the contact form or WhatsApp.
We require financial commitment from the participants in a form of 20% deposit paid via SEPA bank transfer or Paypal. The remaining amount is paid in cash or wire transfer upon arrival.
We promise a 14-day risk-free booking window: you can cancel at any point within two weeks after you put down the first deposit. This buys you time to sort out vacation and flights, to bring in your friends, etc. and not have to worry about someone else taking your spot on the trip.
In case of cancellation of the trip by the participant due to any other personal circumstances any deposits made are NOT refunded. At our sole discretion we may put them towards your future trips with us.
The minimum group size for this trip is 4 participants plus the guide. Should there be less, the trip will be cancelled and all deposits made will be returned in full.
Enquire & book
Let us know any questions or concerns via the form below and we’ll get back to you within 24hrs!
Alternatively, you can just email us at email@example.com
We will never email you any marketing materials without your further consent. Your info will only be used to respond to your question and will never be shared with third parties.
During cultural days in Samarkand and Bukhara, we stay at hand-picked family-run boutique guesthouses equivalent to a solid 3-star hotel, with traditional buffet breakfast included. If we’re fortunate, we may even be able to sleep in refurbished 19th-century interiors!
The standard is twin room, however if you’d rather not share the room with another participant, you can choose to pay an additional fee for single accommodation.
To give you a sense of what to expect, below are a few photos of the guesthouses.
Sightseeing in Samarkand and Bukhara
In addition to 10 days of trekking and wild camping in Tajikistan, this trip includes 3 days of sightseeing in Bukhara and Samarkand — the ancient Silk Road cities recognised as World Heritage by UNESCO.
Sights of Bukhara
Sights of Samarkand
Frequently Asked Questions
Pack donkeys carry most of the weight on the trek. Each donkey takes about 40-50 kilos — that is our food rations, cooking utensils, fuel, tents, sleeping bags and anything not necessary during the day.
Our daypacks usually weigh around 10-12 kilos. However, donkeys can only make it as high as the 4,100m camp before Chimtarga pass. From there we have to carry all the stuff — tents, sleeping bags, remains of food rations and fuel — to the 4,750m high pass in the first half of the day. Hence you need a reasonably large pack — about 60-70 litres. From there it is mostly downhill for the remainder of the trek.
The need to carry our belongings ourselves for about one third of the trek is the reason why it is not a good idea to bring your favourite paperback! Participants are also encouraged to share tents to minimize the carried weight.
If you do not feel comfortable carrying your load without donkeys, porters are available for an additional cost.
The Fanns — the mountain range where we will be trekking — are located in a very quiet corner of Tajikistan, well away from the busy capital of Dushanbe and DAYS away from the border with Afghanistan.
During the Soviet era, the Fann mountains were frequented by mountaineers who stayed at two basecamps, Artuch and Alaudin, which are still convenient logistical centres today. Independent backpackers from European countries often visit the Fanns and locals are friendly towards tourists.
Both Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are Islamic countries. It is important to remain courteous to locals and respect Muslim customs. Female visitors should dress conservatively in villages. It is a good idea to bring small souvenirs for shepherd families and candies for kids. You will be rewarded with home-baked bread and yogurt!
I prepare trek meals using various cereals and high-quality freeze-dried meats, veggies and berries. In normal life, I minimize consumption of meat so it is easy for me to cater for vegetarians. I take into account any dietary allergies or intolerances provided you let me know in advance.
Breakfast typically consists of oatmeal with locally-sourced sun-dried fruits — such as prunes, cheese, savour biscuits or naan bread, tea or coffee. One example of a non-typical breakfast is millet with pumpkin and raisins!
For lunch on the trek we typically have different soups, for example, borscht, peas or lentils, served with crisps, fried chickpeas and cheese. I also love to offer refreshing drinks made with freeze-dried berries such as cranberries, blackcurrants or lyngenberries.
On certain days we may choose to skip lunch, for example, because of difficulties of finding water and/or a flat and shady space. In that case, we will have our soups in the evening, prior to the main course such as chicken tikka masala, Georgian-style baked eggplants with paprika or lentil stew with vegetables. There are also herbal teas with local treats such as tahini halva, gingerbread or nuts with honey among others.
I do NOT provide snacks on the trek. You can bring your favourite protein bars with you or buy local nuts and sun-dried fruits before the trek!
The tour cost includes three cultural days in Samarkand and Bukhara with a local English-speaking guide. Yet there is a lot more to see in Uzbekistan! Take a sleeper train over the Kyzylkum desert to Khiva, a city with a 1,500-year history, clay houses, turquoise minarets, mosques with carved wooden pillars, artisans’ quarters, and more! We recommend staying in Khiva for at least two days before flying back to Tashkent.
Even though there are numerous lakes and creeks in the Fann mountains, all water below the snowline must be treated due to grazing livestock. The guide will provide chlorine dioxide tablets or you can use your own.
Trekking in Tajikistan’s Fann mountains is usually done during the summer season between mid-June and early September. You are less likely to meet other hikers during the last week of August and into early September. It is well possible that we will only encounter two or three other groups during the entire trek!
Fann mountains, Tajikistan, are famous for sunny weather! Even though conditions have somewhat deteriorated over decades due to the climate change, you can still expect no more than a couple of short showers during the entire trek — and plenty of sun! The temperature during the daytime stays at comfortable +15-20 centigrade at the lowest sections of the trek, while at the highest campgrounds it can drop to subzero at night.
The Fann mountains are located in the north-west corner of Tajikistan just across the border from Uzbekistan’s UNESCO heritage towns of Samarkand and Bukhara. Hence the trip assumes a flight into Uzbekistan.
There are two options:
1) Fly Turkish Airlines to Samarkand via Istanbul.
2) Fly direct to Uzbekistan’s capital of Tashkent by Uzbek airlines. Then take a 2.5 hours high-speed train to Samarkand.
Tajikistan (the trek) is visa-free for most Europeans, US citizens and Canadians. Brits pay $30 for an e-visa.
Uzbekistan (sightseeing) is visa-free for most Europeans, Brits and Canadians. E-visa costs $20 for US citizens.
No. There is no mobile reception throughout most of the trek. The guide will be carrying a satellite messenger for emergency use.
Temperatures at our highest campgrounds can drop close to 0 degrees Celsius, necessitating the use of a three-season sleeping bag. The gear list is provided upon request. In particular, TWO trekking poles are strongly suggested.