A complete guide to Georgia’s Mestia-Ushguli hike

If you’re heading to Georgia, no doubt you’ve already heard about the Mestia to Ushguli hike.

This is the most popular multi-day hike in Georgia for several reasons – it passes a variety of landscapes and beautiful views, it’s very accessible because you can stay in guesthouses and there’s no need to carry a tent or sleeping bag, and it’s not too difficult.

View from Chkhunderi Pass.

This hike is filled with horizons of jagged snowcapped peaks, glaciers, river crossings, moody forests, quaint villages and steep switchbacks taking you up to stunning mountain passes and viewpoints.

There’s also the added drawcard that Ushguli is one of the highest constantly inhabited settlements in Europe, sitting at an elevation of 2,100 metres.


Most people heading to Georgia are planning to head up to Ushguli either by hiking the Transcaucasian Trail, or by taking a minivan to the village.

The Georgian section of the Transcaucasian Trail is part of a much larger trail which aims to link the Lower Caucasus mountains in Armenia, with the Upper Caucasus mountains in Georgia and Azerbaijan via 3,000km of hiking trails.

You can also add the Chuberi to Mestia hike to your trekking adventures in Georgia, which is also part of the Transcaucasian Trail.

On the Chkhunderi Pass.

Trail Facts

Length: 60km

Time: 3-4 days (it’s possible to combine the 3rd and 4th day)

Starting Point: Mestia

End Point: Ushguli

Minimum elevation: 1,411 metres

Maximum elevation: 2,737 metres

When to go

This trail is possible from June to around early October. But be mindful that in early to mid-June and also in early October, you’ll likely find snow patches along the higher altitude sections of the trail such as the Chkhunderi Pass, and care is needed. The trail can also be very muddy after the snow melts.

One of the beautiful meadows on the trail.

Before you head out

Before you pull on your hiking boots, make sure you download the Transcaucasian Trail map for Georgia onto your Maps.me app. Once downloaded, you will see a highlighted route in Maps.me to help keep you on track. It’s also handy to download the track notes to your phone to have an overview handy of what to expect for each day.

Trail markers are painted along the Transcaucasian Trail, and there is also some signage. You will follow these for most of the time, but may need to refer to the maps in some sections such as through forests.

One of the villages you pass on the trail.

Where to stay

There are guesthouses located along the trail in several locations. Most guesthouse are located in or around the villages of Zhabeshi, Chviabiani, Adishi, Iprari and Ushguli, however there are some smaller settlements along the way also with at least one guesthouse.

Guesthouses charge about 40 GEL for a bed. Many guesthouses are listed on Booking.com and can be booked online. You may also be able to turn up and find a bed when you arrive, but this is not recommended during the high season between July and August.

If you want to have dinner and breakfast, it’s usually another 20-25 GEL per meal so expect to pay about 70-100 GEL per night. I highly recommend getting the provided meals as there’s often no other option to buy food in the villages. The food is also excellent Georgian home-cooked meals and there’s so much food, you probably won’t finish it all. Breakfast can also double as lunch as you’ll likely have leftovers to take with you or you can ask your guesthouse to provide you with some food for lunch.

View from Ushguli.

Gear list

It’s recommended to have the following gear for this hike:

• Hiking shoes. You’ll need good grip on the steep trails that can be slippery underfoot due to mud or scree.

• Warm clothing and a rainjacket as the weather is unpredictable in the mountains.

• Water bladder or water bottles capable of carrying at least 2L per day. You can fill up at guesthouses straight from the tap or from streams along the way using a water purification or filtration system.

• Georgian Lari to pay for a bed and food along the way as there are no ATMs and only cash is accepted. Small notes are best. 

• Camera to capture all the amazing scenery along the way.

Adishi Glacier.

Getting there

The hike starts from the small town of Mestia – located in the north of Georgia. Mestia is accessible by marshurtka(minibus) from Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Zugdidi or Batumi. It’s a 9 hour trip from Tbilisi, 6 hours from Batumi and Kutaisi and three hours from Zugdidi. The trip includes bathroom breaks.

It’s also possible to get a train from Tbilisi to Zugdidi and then hop on a marshrutka for the rest of the trip. You can also fly from Tbilisi or Kutaisi, however flights are frequently cancelled due to bad weather so you may have to go to a Plan B and take the train or marshrutka.

View from the Mestia cross.

Mestia has plenty of guesthouses and it’s a good place to stay for a couple of days and do some local hikes up to the Mestia cross or Koruldi Lakes as a warm up for the multi-day hike.

You’ll want to stay at least the night before you start the hike and get an early start. You can usually store anything you’re not taking on the hike at your guesthouse.

Heading up Chkhunderi Pass.

Day 1: Mestia to Zhabeshi

From Mestia, you head out of town heading for Zhabeshi. The initial part of the hike is along a dirt road and gradually climbs the hillside, offering up good views of Mt Ushba along the way on a clear day.

View on the first day of the trail.

After about an hour, you will take a right up a hill and connect to a road before ending up at a beautiful meadow. This is the perfect spot for a lunch break.

Another 10 minutes down the track, you’ll get a good view of the villages in the valley below.

Heading down into local villages on day one.

Eventually you’ll start heading down to some small villages, and then enter the village of Lakhiri, before reaching a bridge crossing a wide river.

From the bridge, turn left onto the road. This will take you to Chvabiani and Zhabeshi. You can choose to sleep in either of these villages as they both have good links to the Day 2 trailhead.

Depending on breaks, this first day will take about five to six hours to complete.

Heading down Chkhunderi Pass.

Day 2: Zhabeshi to Adishi

The first day of the hike is easy to moderate with not too much elevation gain, however the second day is more strenuous. 

Almost immediately after leaving Zhabeshi or Chvabiani you will start heading uphill, winding across farmland and then heading up through a low forest bound for Tetnuldi mountain.

The lower parts of this trail are littered with cow paths, but try to follow the most well-trodden path uphill to reach Tetnuldi. There is also some signage and markers along the way.

Adishi village.

Tetnuldi is a ski resort in the wintertime, so there’s a couple of small cafes that should be operating in the hiking season. The menu is limited but you can get a tea or a coffee – especially good if it’s a cold and rainy day.

After Tetnuldi, you have a bit more of uphill along a skiing track, however it’s not as steep as the first section. Shortly after leaving the ski resort, you’ll reach a junction. Take the right path and follow it towards Adishi. There’s a couple of creek crossings along the way, but the wider sections have wooden boards to facilitate the crossings. After the crossings, you’ll walk through a nice forest before reaching Adishi.

This second day will take about four hours to complete.

Day 3: Adishi to Iprali

After leaving Adishi, it’s a mostly flat walk for about an hour, walking along a bank to the left of a river.

Heading out of Adishi village.

You’ll then come to a glacier river crossing. Most likely, locals will be there with horses to take you across the river, as the water is cold and can be fast moving. Expect to pay around 20-25 GEL per person to get across on the horses.

Glacial river crossing on horseback.

From the river, it’s a steep, exhausting hike up through rhododendron forest to reach the top of Chkhunderi Pass. This section will take about an hour. The uphill slog is worth the effort though, as you get some excellent views of Adishi Glacier and surrounding mountains from the top of the pass.

The good news is after you reach the pass it’s all downhill from there as you head towards Iprari. It takes about 2-3 hours to reach Iprari from the top of the pass.

Depending on breaks, the third day will take about five to six hours to complete.

Adishi glacier.

Day 4: Iprari-Ushguli

The section between Iprari and Ushguli is the shortest hike of the trail and will take about 3-4 hours. 

From Iprari, you head out of the village and cross a bridge over the Khaldechala River. After the bridge, walk along the road for another 10 minutes, cross a stone bridge into Davberi village and then turn right and start heading uphill.

Davberi village.

The trail is undulating from here with constant up and downs as you head to Ushguli. The hike has some views at the start, but most of the hike is inside a forest.

The final part of the hike takes you along the road into Ushguli and you’ll be met with the beautiful Svaneti towers of this village set against a backdrop of stunning mountains.

The final day of the hike will take only 3-4 hours.

Delicious guesthouse food on the trail.

If you’re still feeling energetic, you can opt to head to the Shkara Glacier from Ushguli. It’s a flat but long walk and will take about six hours return. There’s also an option to get a driver or hire horses to reach the glacier.

Views along the Shkara Glacier trail.

Many people choose to head back to Mestia once they arrive in Ushguli. Taxis depart from the bridge in town but only leave when full so you’ll need to find four people to fill the car. Cost is around 40 GEL per person.

The drive back to Mestia will take about an hour and a half.

Adishi village.

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