One of the most popular and, arguably, beautiful destinations of mountainous Georgia – Svaneti is situated on the southern slopes of Greater Caucasus mountains, along the rivers of Enguri (Upper Svaneti) and Tskhenistsqali (Lower Svaneti). Historical Svaneti province is divided by the Svaneti mountain range into two – upper and lower parts. Small towns Mestia and Lentekhi are the administrative centers of the two parts. Some of the notable mountain peaks in Svaneti are Ushba (4710 m & 4690 m), Tetnuldi (4858m), Shkhara (5193 m), and Shkhelda (4368 m).
Mestia is located at an elevation of 1500 meters. The former name of the townlet is Seti. It has been an important center of Georgian culture for centuries, is home to a number of medieval monuments - churches and forts. In addition, Mestia is also a new winter resort. Three ski routes have been built on mount Hatsvali: a 2600-meter long red ski run for professional skiers; a 2670-meter long blue run for less experienced skiers; and a 300-meter long run for amateur skiers.
Medieval Svan towers are probably the most iconic and authentic local symbols of the province. Traditionally, each Svan house had a tower that served as a shelter for the local population during the invasions or natural disasters. All Svan towers look indistinguishable - a square decreased about 28-meter tall stone structure. Each tower is four or five storied with a windowed upper section. The greatest number of Svan towers are still present in Mestia and Ushguli. The newest is no less than 200 years old. Presently the towers are not used, their wooden floor partitions had fallen long time ago so it is difficult to climb majority of them.
The extraordinary remoteness of Svaneti communities throughout centuries allowed locals to preserve traditional ways of life and ancient traditions, as well as many unique historico-archaeological artifacts and keep them away from the various conquerors. Visitors can see many interesting artifacts displayed at Svaneti Ethnographic Museum located in Mestia.
The village cluster of Ushguli with its distinctive ancient towers is one of the highest populated places in Europe (located at an elevation of 2200 meters). Ushguli is among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1994.
Local food is very tasty. There are unique local spices, like Svan salt (mixture of dried garlic, salt, pepper and other spices), that make the local dishes quite a culinary experience. One of the most famous Svan food is Kubdari – beef and pork filled bread and a mixture of spices.
It is always possible to cater for vegetarians as well.
Information about skiing slopes and ski lifts:
Ski run: 1900 meters. Type: Red (difficulty- above average)
Ski run: 2565 meters. Type: Blue (difficulty-average)
Ski lift ticket price: 2.5 EUR per day
Ski run “Mugviirshi:” 300 meters (for amateur skiers)
Ski lift manufacturing company: Leitner-Poma Inc.
Ski lift length: 1407 meters
Number of cable car seats: initially 40
Type of seats: open, four seats per car
Initial ski lift elevation above sea level: 1800 meters, start: 2350 meters
Jeep 4X4 WD - 4 seats
Mitsubishi Delica van 4X4 WD - 6 seats
Minibus Mercedes Sprinter 9-15 seats
Main highlights to visit:
Svaneti Ethnographical Museum
To book a private trip to Svaneti, please check our 4-day Svaneti Treasure tour.