The trek from Mestia to Ushguli is a four-day hike (that can be done in three days for fast walkers) that offers accessibility and comfort without compromising on the magnificence of the Caucasus’ mountains. One of the most popular treks in Georgia, it is a must for the villages and landscapes encountered as well as the traditional local cuisine.
Difficulty level: easy
Mestia’s tourism information office provides useful and free maps which allow between 6 and 8 hours per day for each of the four days necessary for the trek. It is advised to hike it from Mestia to Ushguli to enjoy the evolution of the sceneries and to fully appreciate the arrival in Ushguli, the highest permanent settlement in Europe. Each day ends in a village where one can find guesthouses for food and accommodation.
The trail is easy to follow but sometimes very busy. The only “perilous” part is a river crossing after the village Adishi, on the third day. Check with your guesthouse that men and horses are waiting at the river to help hikers cross (for 10 to 20 GEL). Do not cross on foot!
Some people avoid the last day by paying a “local taxi” in Iprali – the last village before Ushguli – or by hitchhiking (sometimes difficult). If you want to hike the whole way, it is essential not to use the dirt road until Ushguli! The real trail, as beautiful as the three previous days, starts left from the road not long after Iprali and deserves to be hiked no matter what the locals will tell you.
Where to sleep
Mestia being the biggest town in the region, it has a wide range of lodging, including a few cheap hostels and more luxurious establishments. The trek passes through several villages, the majority of them with at least a couple guesthouses starting at around 50 GEL per person. Most (of not all) of them include dinner, breakfast and a packed lunch for the next day,
It is also possible to camp with your tent in tons of places along the trek, buying provisions in guesthouses.
Ushguli is also a touristic village with loads of guesthouses to accommodate hundreds of visitors along with a few cafes/restaurants. One night in the most affordable places is usually around 40 GEL for a double room, meals in option (around 15 GEL per meal).
We strongly recommend to buy snacks in Tbilisi or Mestia to carry with you for the trek, as the packed lunch offered by most guesthouses can be quite small, especially considering the energy spent each day on the trail!
When to go
The climate in Northern Georgia implies long, cold and snowy winters. It is advised to hike in the region from spring to autumn, i.e. from late April to early October. The summer can be quite hot (regularly between 30°C to 35°C in the south), but the mountains in the north make it the best time to visit.
How to get there
To reach Mazeri you first need to go to Mestia. The easiest and cheapest way for that is the minibus – the marshrutka – leaving from Zugdidi’s train station regularly in the morning, every day for 20 GEL (2017). The new road allows for a long and winding journey, but a safe one.
It is also possible to take a one hour flight from Tbilisi to Mestia for around 65 GEL (without luggage) with the company Serviceair, and from Kutaisi for 40 GEL (2016). Four flights per week are available from Tbilisi and two from Kutaisi, but the tickets are sold out a long time before the dates.
What to do next
From Ushguli :
- The Latpari trek: a two-day hike leading to Chvelpi through the green and treeless mountains south of Ushguli. A simple and quiet trail amidst gorgeous open landscapes.
From Mestia :
- The Mestia – Mazeri trek: many minibuses leave from Ushguli to Mestia all day until 1PM, from where you can either reach Mazeri or start the majestic trek culminating at 3000m.