Mestia: a mountain paradise affordable for all

Mestia: a mountain paradise affordable for all 9 June 2018

Haven’t you been to the mountainous region of Svaneti? If you haven’t, you just don’t know Georgia. You need to urgently correct this injustice and come to Mestia – here, at the foot of the Caucasian ridge, among alpine meadows and coniferous forests you can feel isolation from the outside world and the energy of wildlife. By the way, despite its modest size (the population of this mountain village is no more than 3 thousand people), Mestia is surely amongst the top 10 main tourist centers in Georgia. And now you will know why!

Hallmarks of Mestia

Svaneti is a unique region located high in the mountains (because of such inaccessibility of this region, the svans were separated into a separate nationality up to the 1930s). People come here, first of all, for the sake of natural beauty – a lot of tourist routes to the mountains and glaciers start exactly here, in Mestia.

Stone towers in Mestia, Svenati, Georgia

In winter and summer, the ski resort of Khatsvali (Hatsvali) on the Zuruldi Ridge attracts travelers – there is a cableway here that offers amazing views of the sinister Ushba mountain and the entire Caucasian ridge. The Coruldi lakes, located at an altitude of almost 3 thousand meters above sea level, are very popular too. They are tiny ponds among the wild grasses of the fields. Ili Ushguli is the most highland community of four villages in Europe. It is famous not only for its beautiful landscapes, but also for interesting historical monuments – the ruins of the Chazhash Castle (the queen Tamara stayed here once), and also the whole museum of icons and the Church of Virgin Mary at an altitude of 2300 meters.

When choosing the optimum time for a trip to Mestia, remember: this is a mountainous region, so the weather is not that stable here. Even in summer it is not extremely hot here, the first colds come in September, and spring begins very early (though, the sunny March day may end with a long snowball). Mestia becomes almost deserted in winter – but it is during this period when you can see absolutely fabulous night landscapes with illuminated small towers on the background of the mountains.

5 things that must be done in Mestia and the surrounding area

  • Visit the House Museum of Michael Hergiani – the legendary Soviet mountaineer and the seven-time USSR champion, nicknamed the “Tiger of the Rocks” by his British colleagues. Hergiani was born in Mestia, his father and brothers were also mountaineers, and this profession is still considered to be the most prestigious in Svaneti.
  • Visit the Chalaadi glacier – the road is not difficult, and the path runs along picturesque relic forests, along rough mountain rivers and through severe gorges.
  • Take some photos of the unique Svan towers – they can be found almost everywhere here, so it’s not going to be difficult to do it! From ancient times Svans were considered to be excellent warriors and paid special attention to defensive structures – almost every household had a tall watchtower. The entrance was at a level of 2-3 meters from the ground, living quarters were a little bit higher, and an observation post was on the top of the tower.
  • See the Svan’s icon painting technique in the Museum of History and Ethnography on the shore of Inguri – unlike many other mountain peoples, the svans found time to create their own churches and even hand written books!

By the way, you can climb to the roof of the museum to take a couple of photos – it offers an excellent view of the mountain landscapes and the houses of Mestia.

  • Look at the frescoes in the Church of Trasfiguration of the IX century in Lagami village, the main Orthodox sanctuary of Mestia.

If you go to Svaneti with an intention to walk a lot and for a long time, we recommend that you choose the time from the middle of June to the beginning of October – this is the high trekking season in the region, when trails and roads are easily passable. In Mestia village itself you can have a rest all year round – this place never runs out of heady air of mountains and fragrant kubdary (local flat cakes with meat)!

Beautiful Georgia (2) Mestia village, Svaneti region, Georgia Mighty Towers

Panorama of Mestia and Latsga, автор — Michał Ochman на 500px.com

Ski slope and beautiful sky with clouds in sun evening, автор — poltoratskaya на 500px.com

Powder ski in Caucasus mountains, автор — Nikolay Orlov на 500px.com

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