Watch the behind the scenes version of our Chuberi to Mestia hike on Instagram stories
Watch the behind the scenes
version of our Chuberi to Mestia
trek on Instagram stories
2020 Nakra to Mestia
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
2021 Chuberi to Mestia
CHUBERI TO MESTIA TREK HIKING MAP
Use the map below to help guide you from Chuberi to Mestia. Tap the menu button at the top left for more details, to toggle layers on and off, and switch between satellite and terrain view.
To use an offline version of this map, download our KML file for use with Maps.me (iOS/Android), or the GPX file for use with other offline mapping apps such as Gaia (iOS/Android) or OsmAnd Maps (iOS/Android). See the expandable box below for tips on using these apps.
HOW TO SAVE THIS MAP (ONLINE VERSION)
To save this map to use online on desktop or mobile just tap the star symbol at the top. When you open Google Maps on your phone, navigate to ‘Saved’ at the bottom, then swipe along to ‘Maps’ at the top. You’ll find this map in your list of maps.
On desktop, click the three lines at the top left, select ‘Your Places’, then ‘Maps’. Click the map, then scroll down and select ‘Open in My Maps’ to access the interactive version.
Alternatively, just tap the rectangle symbol at the top right of the map in this blog post to view the My Maps version larger on desktop.
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to view this version of the map offline, but we’ve provided a download for a similar version for offline use.
TIPS FOR OFFLINE MAPPING APPS
Maps.me is our go-to offline mapping app. We find it straightforward to use for planning routes in advance, as well as navigating on the trail. It doesn’t drain our phone battery, and it’s quick and easy to save and organise ‘bookmarks’. There are many trails already marked on Maps.me, plus you can download and import a KML track of your route to the app.
To use Maps.me, first download the app (iOS/Android). Hover over the region or country that you want to visit and the app will prompt you to download this map. Once downloaded, it can be viewed offline.
You can tap anywhere and save it as a ‘bookmark’ by tapping the star symbol at the bottom. Hit ‘Edit Bookmark’ to personalise the bookmark colour, organise your bookmarks into different folders, and rename them.
You can navigate easily or plan routes in advance by tapping your start point and selecting ‘route from’, then tapping your end point and selecting ‘route to’. Tap the car, walking, or cycling symbol at the top of the screen to indicate your mode of travel. If you want to plot a different route to the one suggested by Maps.me, just tap a third (or fourth, fifth, etc.) bookmark between the start and end points and select ‘add stop’.
Maps.me shows the distance and travel time, plus elevation profiles for hiking trails. Note that the estimated time isn’t always reliable, but we’ve always found the distance and elevation gain/loss to be largely accurate. It only shows very basic contour lines.
You can track your progress on the trail using GPS. The arrow shows your direction of travel. Tap the compass at the top right of the screen to keep the map in a fixed position (the arrow will rotate). Alternatively, tap the arrow at the bottom right of the screen to rotate the map in the direction of travel (the arrow will stay in a fixed position).
Gaia (iOS/Android) is another offline mapping app that is very useful. It shows the contours in much more detail than Maps.me, and you can download both the topographical and satellite view of your route in advance for offline use. The app has existing OpenStreetMap trails marked and you can import GPX tracks and view them offline. You can also create new routes online yourself and export them as GPX or KML files. You can navigate easily on the trail using the arrow that shows your GPS location. You can also check distances between places offline, however you will only get elevation profiles while online. There are a lot of useful features in the free version and even more benefits if you have a paid annual membership, so if you spend a lot of time outdoors it is worthwhile learning how to use the app to its full advantage.
In our experience, Gaia drains your phone battery much quicker than Maps.me, even in flight mode, so it’s best to shut down the app completely each time you finish using it.
OsmAnd Maps (iOS/Android) is another great offline mapping app with lots of useful features. In our opinion, it’s not as intuitive as Maps.me, and it has so many features that it can be a bit overwhelming at first. Like Gaia, we recommend checking out the written and video tutorials on the OsmAnd website to learn how to fully use the app. The benefits of the app include being able to plot routes in advance and save them as GPX tracks, and to view detailed elevation and terrain information, including surface types. You can also import GPX tracks. One downside is that the free version does not include contour lines, but these can be added via a paid plugin.
CHUBERI TO MESTIA TREK BREAKDOWN
We’ve broken down the Chuberi to Mestia trek into separate days and sections below. However, depending on speed, fitness, appetite for side trips, and desire to camp or stay in guesthouses, your schedule can be amended to suit your own needs and wishes. We cover these factors in more detail throughout the breakdown and description of this trek.
We’ve also given approximate timings and distances for each day and section, as well as approximate figures for elevation gain and loss. The total daily figures for elevation gain and loss are based on our exact recorded route using Garmin and may not be 100% accurate, but they are a good guide of what to expect. The elevation gain and loss figures for each hiking section are estimates based on our recorded track and mapping apps.
The timings are based around average hiking speeds and are intended as a rough guide. If you’re a fast hiker it may take you less time, and conversely, if you’re a slow hiker it may take you longer.
ELEVATION PROFILE AND 3D ROUTE MAP VIDEO
The elevation profile of the trek, starting at Chuberi (Kvemo Marghi) and finishing at Mestia
DAY 1 | CHUBERI → UTVIRI PASS (CAMP BELOW)
17 km | + 2079 m / – 187 m | 7 – 10 hours
+ 2079 m / – 187 m
7 – 10 hours
Day 1 is a tough introduction to the Chuberi to Mestia hike. There is more than 2000 metres of elevation gain – the biggest single climb of the whole trek by some margin. The first 10 km is mostly on forest trails and tracks. The rest of the distance climbs open hillsides with expansive mountain views. Water sources appear throughout the day.
If you are fast and light, you could hike up to Utviri Pass and down to Nakra in one day. It would be long and tough (29 km and + 2265 m / – 1822 m), but it would mean that you could hike without camping gear (there are plenty of guesthouses from Nakra to Mestia). In this case, a very early start is advisable.
CHUBERI (KVEMO MARGHI) → ZEMO MARGHI | 3.4 km | + 430 m | 1 – 2 hours
CHUBERI (KVEMO MARGHI)
→ ZEMO MARGHI
3.4 km | + 430 m
1 – 2 hours
Starting at the bridge over the Nenskra, head north along the road for around 300 metres. Follow the track to the right where the yellow hiking sign points. The trail leads up, curves round to the left, and winds among houses and gardens. It is well marked at a few places with yellow signposts.
After 2 km you join the main jeep track coming up from Kvemo Marghi. Soon after this, turn left off the road and cross the Gvashkhara river on the small bridge. Follow the trail to the right of the Markhi river, up past the signpost and through the ferns. You’ll come to a bridge made from a fallen tree.
Cross the log bridge and climb steeply for a while, with some red and white waymarkings showing the way. Look out for the point where the trail begins to switchback, climbing up to another trekking sign and on to a small spring. The switchbacks continue through the forest until you reach a fence. Keep the fence on your right and climb to Zemo Marghi.
Doing the log shimmy to get across the Markhi river
Doing the log shimmy to get across the Markhi
ZEMO MARGHI → END OF FOREST | 7.2 km | + 820 m | 3 – 4 hours
ZEMO MARGHI →
END OF FOREST
7.2 km | + 820 m
3 – 4 hours
When you arrive on the open hillside outside Zemo Marghi, there’s a choice of two trails: straight ahead, skirting the village on the left and following the painted markers, or turn right and follow the yellow sign (the GPX track and our way). This leads through the settlement of Zemo Marghi, passing through several gates. The track is wide and easy to follow. After the last gate you leave Zemo Marghi and the two trails become one.
From this point there is an easy-to-follow jeep track climbing through the forest. After 2.5 km you come to a spring to the right of the trail, just above the river. Some conveniently placed logs make a good place to rest.
The trail climbs quite steeply from the spring, continuing on the jeep track. You reach a clearing with a wooden hut. Here the trail turns sharply to the left before curving to the right and continuing up through the forest.
After another kilometre, the trail switchbacks left and right again then continues straight. It climbs for another couple of kilometres till the forest ends. You arrive in a grassy valley with a hut up ahead and mountain peaks above.
When you exit the forest, the trail continues up this valley and past the herder’s hut, then climbs to the left behind the treeline
When you exit the forest, the trail continues up this
valley and past the herder’s hut, then climbs to the
left behind the treeline
END OF FOREST → UTVIRI PASS | 5.5 km | + 700 m | 3 – 4 hours
END OF FOREST
→ UTVIRI PASS
5.5 km | + 700 m
3 – 4 hours
Follow the stony path up towards the hut. After the hut, cross the small stream and continue on the narrow trail towards a big rock. At the trekking sign, turn sharp left and follow the trail up the hill. This leads around the hillside to a couple of huts. Pass through them and turn sharp left to climb the hill to the wide grassy jeep track.
From here the trail becomes easier. It leads up past a small lake and climbs towards an old hut. Climb the hillside from the hut, keeping an eye out for waymarkings on rocks and following the GPX track. When you reach the ridgeline, look for the pole marker, painted red and white. Follow the trail down slightly and along the rhododendron covered hillside from the pole.
The trail climbs gently for a while, reaches a high point, then winds down the hillside. You soon reach an eroded area which needs to be crossed. It requires care but the gradient is not too steep and there is enough of a path to follow.
From here the trail soon crosses a stream, descends a little more, then begins the final ascent to the pass. Climbing up the grassy slope, the trail is largely clear and easy-to-follow with noticeable waymarkings on the rocks.
The pass itself is spacious and has great views both east and west.
The final climb to the pass is on a largely straightforward and easy-to-follow trail
The final climb to the pass is on a largely
straightforward and easy-to-follow trail
UTVIRI PASS → TRAILSIDE CAMP | 0.6 km | – 50 m | 10 mins
UTVIRI PASS →
0.6 km | – 50 m
The trail heads left from the pass then swings right, descending the grassy hillside not too obviously at first. Keep an eye on GPS and look out for painted rocks. The trail soon becomes more apparent as it runs along the hillside above the lake.
We had planned to camp at the lake but it was quite a bit below the trail. In the end we found a grassy area next to the trail with a water source close by. It was a decent camp spot and we didn’t see any better between there and Nakra.
DAY 2 | UTVIRI PASS → NAKRA
12 km | + 186 m / – 1635 m | 3 – 5 hours
+ 186 m / – 1635 m
3 – 5 hours
Day 2 is a big descent if you camp near the pass but it is quite straightforward. The initial section is on trail, but you soon hit a dirt road. Open hillsides give way to forested slopes, until eventually you arrive at Nakra. Water is easy to source (mid-July) from streams/springs along the way.
BELOW UTVIRI PASS → HERDER HUTS/OFFICIAL CAMPSITE | 3.3 km | – 300 m | 1 – 2 hours
BELOW UTVIRI PASS →
HERDER HUTS/OFFICIAL CAMPSITE
3.3 km | – 300 m
1 – 2 hours
Follow the trail down the grassy hillside while watching for waymarkings and keeping an eye on GPS. The trail curves round to the left when you see the marker pole (after approx 600 metres), then curves to the right. Keep following the trail, soon meeting a dirt track.
At the marker pole next to a huge rock, leave the dirt track, turning sharp left to descend the hillside. You soon rejoin the dirt road, now wide and churned up by much use from heavy vehicles. Cross the stream on foot when you reach it. There are some rocks to stand on but the water level may vary.
From the stream follow the dirt road. It undulates and curves around the hillside for 1.8 km. There are several small streams and a few larger ones, so water sources are plentiful in season. You’ll reach some herder huts after about 30 minutes. This is marked as an official campsite but you would not want to camp here. It is very muddy, full of cowshit, and there’s the potential for barking dogs and lots of cows. Turn right at the huts to stay on the track.
Setting up camp next to the trail, about 500 metres beyond Utviri Pass, a much
better choice than the official campsite at the herder huts further down the track
Setting up camp next to the trail, about
500 metres beyond Utviri Pass, a much
better choice than the official campsite
at the herder huts further down the track
HERDER HUTS/OFFICIAL CAMPSITE → NAKRA | 8.7 km | – 1100 m | 2 – 3 hours
8.7 km | – 1100 m
2 – 3 hours
From here the track descends the hillside, following a series of switchbacks. As you get close to the forested areas you pass some dilapidated huts to the left. There is a trail down the hillside past the huts, but it’s quite overgrown. Staying on the road is only slightly longer but is much easier, and the two soon meet.
From this point on there is an easy-to-follow wide dirt track. You can’t go wrong, but even so, trekking signposts point the way on several occasions. The tree cover increases, offering more shade. There are several streams on the way, but the spring coming from a pipe (marked on our map) has good, cold, clear water, and it’s a shady place for a brief rest. Continue on the road through the forest until reaching the outskirts of Nakra. Just beyond the church, turn right and follow the road down into the village.
About 600 metres before the church there is a shortcut through the forest (marked on the two GPX tracks we were using for reference) which takes you down to the centre of the village. We had a look, but the trail wasn’t clear and there were no visible markings to follow (as of July 2021), so we stayed on the road. If you’re aiming for Eka Guesthouse at the top of the village it’s easiest to stick to the road. If you plan to continue hiking beyond Nakra, then the forest trail is a significantly shorter route.
DAY 3 | NAKRA → ETSERI
21 km | + 1607 m / – 1287 m | 7 – 10 hours
+ 1607 m / – 1287 m
7 – 10 hours
The route from Nakra to Etseri has plenty of ups and downs, with multiple descents/ascents to/from streams and rivers. These are often steep and potentially slippery in parts, with some landslide sections which can slow your progress a little. Otherwise, much of the day’s route is on wide easy-to-follow dirt tracks.
Nakra to Etseri can be tackled in one day, or broken up by staying in either Kichkhuldashi or Pari. Kichkhuldashi is roughly halfway so is the obvious place to stay if you want to break the journey evenly (we did this in September 2020, as shown in our video). There is one guesthouse where you can stay. It’s pretty basic, but the hosts are welcoming and very friendly. If you choose to stop in Pari, then it makes sense to continue all the way to Mazeri the following day. If you want to camp, we’ve marked a few potential spots along the trail on our map.
NAKRA → LATSUMBA | 2.2 km | + 260 m | 45 – 60 mins
NAKRA → LATSUMBA
2.2 km | + 260 m
45 – 60 mins
Cross the bridge in Nakra and head up the trail into the forest to the left (not the road). The trail climbs steadily up through the trees and emerges at a lone house. From behind the barn there are a few trails leading up through the forest. Take the one to the extreme right, which is flat to begin with, running parallel to the house. It soon branches off to the left, and from here the trail itself and the painted trail markers are more obvious. It’s a steady climb up through grassy meadows and forest to Latsumba village.
The view looking back from Latsumba village
The view looking back from Latsumba village
LATSUMBA → CHURCH TURN-OFF | 2.5 km | + 430 m | 1 – 1.5 hours
2.5 km | + 430 m
1 – 1.5 hours
Follow the main track through the village then head through a gate on the right, into a fairly steep grassy meadow. Walk up through the meadow, heading right before you reach the next fence. The trail climbs steadily through forest and small open meadows. It’s mostly straightforward, but keep an eye out for waymarkings and check your GPS to ensure you don’t stray off on a side trail.
When you leave the last meadow you’ll join a dirt road in the forest. The trail continues through the forest, not on the road, but it is obscured by branches. Look closely and you can see a yellow and white marker on a tree. The path is quite steep from here till it crosses the road higher up. Cross the road and continue through an overgrown area. When you reach more of a clearing (still in the trees), turn sharp left and climb the muddy slope covered in branches. You’ll reach the road once again and arrive at a large clearing used for logging. Head straight across, following the GPX track, and enter the trees again. From here there is a clear trail for the rest of the climb.
The highest point is a bit of an unremarkable pass, hidden in the forest with no views. From here the trail starts downhill. To make a side trip to a church with a nice viewpoint, turn off to the right shortly after.
For the most part, the climb follows a good path through an attractive forest
For the most part, the climb follows a
good path through an attractive forest
CHURCH RETURN SIDE TRIP | 1.4 km | +/- 50 m | 30 mins
CHURCH RETURN SIDE TRIP
1.4 km | +/- 50 m
It’s an easy return trip on an undulating forest trail to the old church. The view over the Enguri Valley is the real highlight, and it’s a worthwhile detour if you have time. The large log shelter around the back of the church makes a good spot to rest or have an early lunch.
CHURCH TURN-OFF → TSALERI | 2.3 km | + 23 m / – 227 m | 30 – 40 mins
2.3 km | + 23 m / – 227 m
30 – 40 mins
From the turn off, a short downhill section takes you through the forest before you hit open meadows. Continue across the meadows towards the ruined buildings. There are waymarkings dotted along the route. After passing in front of an old house you’ll reach the road. Turn right and walk down the road. From here you can see Tsaleri and also look across to Kichkhuldashi. Curve around to the left and follow the road to Tsaleri. As you enter the village, there is a water pipe by the side of the road where you can fill up.
TSALERI → KICHKHULDASHI | 2.8 km | + 257 / – 294 | 1.5 – 2 hours
2.8 km | + 257 / – 294
1.5 – 2 hours
Soon after passing the trekking info board in Tsaleri, you leave the road and head into the forest (there are yellow signposts). From here you descend all the way to the Manshura river on a forest trail that is a little steep and muddy in parts. The wooden bridge that spanned the river in 2020 was damaged, being replaced by a makeshift bridge made from slender tree branches in 2021. Take care crossing it.
After crossing the river, it’s time to climb back up the other side. You’ll soon reach a short section of trail that is eroded, followed by another slightly tricky section where the trail has fallen away, leading down to a stream in a narrow gully. Take care here. Continue upstream for around 20 metres and then scramble up a steep slope to your right to enter the forest again. The trail then passes over a couple of rocky landslides. Take great care here. Our GPX track was recorded in July 2021, but trail conditions can change quickly on landslides, so be sure to assess the safest route across at the time of your hike instead of relying solely upon recorded GPX tracks. You may need to climb a bit higher in the forest before crossing the last section. After this, the trail is more straightforward. You soon emerge at a grassy meadow, where the trail winds around to a rough track leading to Kichkhuldashi village.
The village of Kichkhuldashi is a welcome sight after one of the trickiest parts of the Chuberi to Mestia trail
Kichkhuldashi is a welcome sight after one of
the trickiest parts of the Chuberi to Mestia trail
KICHKHULDASHI → GHESHDERI | 3.2 km | + 237 m / – 248 m | 1 – 1.5 hours
3.2 km | + 237 m / – 248 m
1 – 1.5 hours
Continue on the dirt road through Kichkhuldashi, then branch off to the left. There is a yellow trekking signpost marking the spot. The trail carries on up the hill, through forest sections, then descends past the ruins of Paledi to the Ladlina river. Cross the wooden bridge and climb the other side to the village of Gheshderi.
GHESHDERI → PARI | 4.4 km | + 95 m / – 295 m | 1 – 1.5 hours
GHESHDERI → PARI
4.4 km | + 95 m / – 295 m
1 – 1.5 hours
Follow the dirt road from Gheshderi. There’s a nice rest area with wonderful views where the next trekking signposts are located (about 1.6 km beyond the village). There’s not a great deal of flat ground on this grassy hillside, but enough space for a tent or two if you fancy camping (fill up water in Gheshderi). From here the road continues all the way to Pari, mostly on an easy, gentle descent. There are a couple of guesthouses in the village and a water tap to the right of the trekking info board.
Mountain views from the grassy hillside rest area between Gheshderi and Pari
Mountain views from the grassy hillside
rest area between Gheshderi and Pari
PARI → ETSERI | 3.6 km | + 287 m / – 140 m | 1.5 – 2 hours
PARI → ETSERI
3.6 km | + 287 m / – 140 m
1.5 – 2 hours
Follow the dirt road through the village. When you reach the T-junction, cross over the road and start climbing the track that heads up to the right. This then curves round to the left, where you’ll see a trail branching off to the right, down through a grassy meadow. It’s easy to miss so look out for the waymarked rock at the turn off. From here you can see the main road to Mestia, snaking up the valley below.
Descend through the meadow and into the forest. The trail leads all the way down to the Kinni river, with some slightly steep bits towards the bottom. There is a log bridge over the river, but it is hidden among the trees until you get very close. Follow your GPS to find it. After crossing the river, the trail heads left then switchbacks up the hillside through the forest. You’ll soon reach a large open meadow which would be a decent place to camp.
The trail continues immediately to the left, running parallel to the treeline. Head towards the next meadow, and take a right turn up the forested hillside. The trail runs alongside the fence for a bit, then starts climbing to the left. It’s a fairly steep climb up to another small clearing. Turn left immediately at the clearing, climbing alongside the treeline.
You’ll reach a jeep track. Turn right, and follow it up to Pkhutreri village. There’s a water tap at the top of the track. Turn left here, and follow the dirt road all the way to Etseri (the collective name given to the various villages around here). Yellow trekking signposts point left towards Barshi, and Bak Pass beyond.
There are a couple of guesthouses in Etseri. The best option is probably Hanmer Guesthouse in Iskari, the lower part. It’s directly on the trail, serves up delicious food, and is also home to a well stocked shop. Alternatively, Guesthouse Bidzina Gujejiani can be found at the very top of Etseri, hidden away in the trees.
Arriving in Etseri, you get your first glimpse of a Svan tower on the Chuberi to Mestia section of the Transcaucasian Trail
Arriving in Etseri, you get your first glimpse
of a Svan tower on the Chuberi to Mestia
section of the Transcaucasian Trail
DAY 4 | ETSERI → MAZERI
14.5 km | + 1079 m / – 972 m | 4 – 6 hours
+ 1079 m / – 972 m
4 – 6 hours
This is one of the great days on the Chuberi to Mestia trek. After the steady and straightforward climb to Bak Pass, you are rewarded with your first proper view of mighty Ushba. As you traverse the ridge towards the small lake, the mountain views develop with every turn. From the lake, the trail leads down through an attractive forest to Mazeri, one of the most beautifully situated villages in the whole of Svaneti.
If you are short on time or don’t wish to do the whole trek from Chuberi to Mestia, Etseri (approximate location: 43.045902,42.519746 or search Hanmer Guesthouse) makes an ideal starting point. The trail is only 1 km from the main road so is easy to reach. Etseri to Mazeri would also be an ideal day hike if you’re visiting the area but don’t want to undertake a multi-day trek.
ETSERI → BAK PASS | 5.6 km | + 870 m | 1.5 – 2.5 hours
5.6 km | + 870 m
1.5 – 2.5 hours
Follow the dirt road as it climbs through the villages. After leaving the last village, Barshi, it continues to climb steadily north, then curves to the right in an easterly direction. The wide road becomes a grassy dirt track which leads behind numerous herder huts. You can see Bak Pass clearly up ahead.
The trail narrows again, with more vegetation and a few small streams to cross here and there. It’s a good idea to fill up water around here as the spring up on the ridge is often dry. Keep climbing, checking your GPS and watching out for waymarkings to make sure you’re on the right trail (there are various ones to choose from at some points). The trail gets a bit steeper towards the top, but nothing too difficult.
As you emerge at the pass wonderful views are revealed: snowy peaks in the far distance and magnificent Mt Ushba in the foreground. There is a white trekking signpost marking the pass, pointing in two different directions to Mazeri. The easiest and most common route is to the right, along the ridge.
The view from Bak Pass: the jagged Mazeri peaks on the left, dome-like Ushba on the right
The view from Bak Pass: the jagged Mazeri
peaks on the left, dome-like Ushba on the right
BAK PASS → LAKE | 3.2 km | + 107 m / – 271 m | 1 – 1.5 hours
BAK PASS → LAKE
3.2 km | + 107 m / – 271 m
1 – 1.5 hours
There is a clear trail heading to the right of Bak Pass. Follow it along and up the first small hill. No need to climb Detsili peak ahead of you, instead the trail curves around to the left. Straight across the valley you can see Gul Pass rising high above Mazeri village, the following day’s trek.
The trail climbs a little, but for the most part leads down and around the hillside. Gradually, views of Ushba Glacier and Shdugra Waterfall open up, and the appearance of the mountains change at every turn. It’s a spectacular sight.
There is a water spring below the trail, at an obvious small clearing just past the highest point of the day. We found it to be dry in mid-September and there was only a trickle in mid-July, so it can’t be relied upon throughout the hiking season.
Keep following the trail all the way to a large grassy hilltop with a stone church and small lake.
Looking south towards Laila and the Svaneti Range as the trail approaches the small lake
Looking south towards Laila and the Svaneti
Range as the trail approaches the small lake
LAKE → MAZERI | 5.7 km | + 96 m / – 710 m | 1.5 – 2 hours
LAKE → MAZERI
5.7 km | + 96 m / – 710 m
1.5 – 2 hours
Head downhill from the lake in an eastward direction, towards the trekking signpost which directs you north into the forest. The initial part of the forest trail winds its way down through lovely fir trees on a series of switchbacks. It gets a little overgrown towards the end, but soon you reach a small clearing with some old machinery and the forest trail turns into a stony road. There’s a stream where you can fill up water about 450 metres beyond the clearing.
Carry on down the road for another kilometre and you’ll reach the point where the trail leaves the road to the right.* Look out for the trekking signpost as it’s easy to miss (we missed it on our first hike in 2020 and stayed on the road). The trail leads down through forest and grassy meadows, bringing you out at the village of Tvebishi.
Turn left at Tvebishi and follow the road north. This will lead you to a large car bridge. Cross the bridge and follow the road up past the Grand Hotel Ushba. From here, just choose the track that best suits your accommodation location.
*This trail is quite steep and the grass could be quite slippery after rain, so if it’s been raining, consider staying on the forest road above (this brings you out a little further north, before the bridge on the outskirts of Mazeri village).
A view of Ushba and Mazeri peaks from the outskirts of Mazeri village
A view of Ushba and Mazeri peaks
from the outskirts of Mazeri village
DAY 5 | MAZERI → MESTIA
21 km | + 1579 m / – 1819 m | 8 – 11 hours
+ 1579 m / – 1819 m
8 – 11 hours
The route from Mazeri to Mestia starts with a long, almost continuous ascent. To reach Gul Pass, the day’s high point, you need to climb 1400 metres over a distance of 8+ km. It can be tough, but in good weather you are rewarded with spectacular views. From the pass, the trail traverses the ridge before descending and curving round the hillside towards the Pushkueri river, which requires some care to cross. After this, an easy trail leads to the dirt road between Mestia and Koruldi Lakes. From here, a mixture of road and trail descends 1000 metres to Mestia, the end point for the Chuberi to Mestia section of the Transcaucasian Trail.
If you’re carrying camping gear and want to break up this long day, it’s possible to camp at Koruldi Lakes instead of descending all the way to Mestia (we did this on our first trek here in September 2020, as shown in our video). See our Day 5 alternative below.
Much like the Etseri to Mazeri section of this trek, this makes a fantastic standalone day hike if the full route is not an option for you. It’s a tough hike but it serves up some of the best scenery in Svaneti.
MAZERI → GUL VILLAGE | 4.4 km | + 445 m / – 40 m | 1.5 – 2 hours
MAZERI → GUL VILLAGE
4.4 km | + 445 m / – 40 m
1.5 – 2 hours
Make your way onto the main outer road running around the perimeter of Mazeri, then turn left shortly after the Mazeri Ski Centre, at the white trekking signposts. Follow the dirt road around to Bagvdanari, turning right in the middle of the village, then left by the river. There are no markers, so check your GPS to make sure you are on the right track. Cross the bridge when you come to it, turn left, and carry on up the dirt road.
When you reach the next bridge, do not cross it. Carry on straight up the steep track. You’ll come to some grazing fields, then some ruined stone houses. Continue up the track. After gaining a further 100 metres in elevation, you’ll reach the abandoned village of Gul and its tiny church. There is a good spring here, flowing from a black pipe below the trail. It was flowing well in mid-July, less so in mid-September, although we were still able to fill our bottles then. There are a few possible camp spots on the grassy areas near here, and a little bench to rest and enjoy the views over the Gulichala valley. There is even a drop toilet.
At the abandoned village of Gul, you can look back down towards Mazeri and already feel the progress you’ve made
At the abandoned village of Gul, you can look back
down towards Mazeri and already feel the progress
you’ve made and elevation you’ve climbed
GUL VILLAGE → GUL PASS | 4.5 km | + 945 m / – 19 m | 2 – 3 hours
GUL VILLAGE → GUL PASS
4.5 km | + 945 m / – 19 m
2 – 3 hours
Continue steadily up the hill on the mostly easy-to-follow and well waymarked trail. After a further 1.5 km and 330 metres in elevation, you arrive at a clearing with a few wooden huts and a wonderful backdrop of Ushba and Guli Glacier. There is another spring here, hidden in the vegetation about 100 metres along a side track. However, don’t rely on this. It was dry in September and only a trickle in July. Best to carry enough water to last from Gul village to the small stream which is around 2 km after the pass.
From the huts, continue uphill towards the pass. The trail is crisscrossed by many cow trails, making it a little confusing at times. If you find yourself on a nice easy flat trail for any length of time, it probably means you’ve missed a turn. Check your GPS regularly to stay on track. There are waymarkings painted on rocks, and some poles higher up. Many of these were freshly painted in 2021, making the route much easier to follow than before.
The final part of the climb is quite steep, but wow those views at the top! When you reach the pass there are some sharp drop offs on the Mazeri side, so do be careful, especially if it’s early in the season and there’s snow.
On the steep final approach to Gul Pass
The snowy peak of Tetnuldi showing
through the clouds, seen from Gul Pass
Descending along the ridgeline from the pass
GUL PASS → PUSHKUERI GULLY | 3.3 km | + 60 m / – 504 m | 1 .5 – 2 hours
GUL PASS →
3.3 km | + 60 m / – 504 m
1 .5 – 2 hours
Head south from the pass, descending along the ridgeline. You’ll reach a trekking signpost pointing down to the left and from here the main descent starts. The trail is a little steep to begin with, but it soon becomes more gradual and by the time you reach the first main stream, you find yourself on a gently undulating path.
After the stream there are a few eroded sections of the trail where you should be careful. Then comes the trickiest part of the day, crossing the headwaters of the Pushkueri river. First there is a big stream in a gully, followed by a smaller stream in a smaller gully. You can see quite clearly where the trail leads and where the best spots to climb down and up again are, so it’s not too difficult, but care is needed.
Climb down opposite the waymarking on the rock, cross the stream, and go down about 10 metres or so on the other side before climbing up and joining the trail. The next stream and gully are straightforward. In mid-September the streams were easy to cross on stones without getting our boots wet, but in mid-July, the water level was higher, making it a bit trickier to cross the first stream and identify the spot to climb up the other side. Early in the season there are usually snow bridges here. Sometimes this makes it easier, but it can also be more dangerous if icy or the snow is melting.
Crossing the Pushkueri gully in September when the water level was low
Crossing the Pushkueri gully in September
when the water level was very low
PUSHKUERI GULLY → KORULDI LAKES TURN-OFF | 3 km | + 101 / – 157 m | 45 – 60 mins
PUSHKUERI GULLY →
KORULDI LAKES TURN-OFF
3 km | + 101 / – 157 m
45 – 60 mins
From the Pushkueri river, the trail continues to undulate around the hillside in an easy-going manner. After a few kilometres, it joins the dirt road from Mestia to Koruldi Lakes.
KORULDI LAKES TURN-OFF → MESTIA VIEWPOINT | 2.1 km | – 250 m | 30 mins
KORULDI LAKES TURN-OFF
→ MESTIA VIEWPOINT
2.1 km | – 250 m
It takes around 30 minutes to reach the Mestia observation deck next to the big metal cross. The trail is mostly on dirt road, with some hiking trails cutting across here and there. When you see a small collection of shepherds’ huts below the road, take the trail towards them. The Mestia viewpoint is just below the huts.
MESTIA VIEWPOINT → MESTIA | 3.5 – 5 km | – 770 m | 1 – 2 hours
3.5 – 5 km | – 770 m
1 – 2 hours
There are two options when leaving the viewpoint. The western trail (as per the Transcaucasian Trail KMZ track), or the eastern trail as per our GPX/KML tracks. We have no experience of the western trail but by all accounts it is quite steep.
To take the eastern route, carry on down the road, cutting across on a shortcut trail at one point. After 1 km, you have the option of joining a trail down through the forest – a new (2021) yellow trekking signpost points the way. This trail (as per our GPX/KML track) is about 1.4 km shorter than continuing further on the road (as per Caucasus Trekking GPX/KML track), but be warned, it is steep and slippery in parts. If your legs are tired and you’re feeling the weight of your bag, best to continue on the road till the next turn-off.
If you decide to stay on the road, you will arrive at the next turn-off after a further 1.3 km. Look out for the trekking signpost directing you away from the road. From here until Mestia it’s mostly a forest trail, and this route merges with the steeper trail that left the road earlier. There are still some steep sections to negotiate, with small loose stones underfoot which can be a bit slippery. Nice views over the stone towers below open up occasionally through the trees. There is a stream where you should be able to fill water should you need it.
Emerging from the forest, the trail leads downhill past fields and houses. The stony tracks turn into cobbled streets, and soon you are surrounded by so many Svanetian towers that it’s hard to keep count. It makes for quite the entrance! Keep heading downhill, through the arched tower, and navigate to your guesthouse.
Views of Mestia greet you through the trees as you get closer to the town
Views of Mestia greet you through the
trees as you get closer to the town
DAY 5 ALTERNATIVE | MAZERI → KORULDI LAKES
16.5 km | + 1853 m / – 723 m | 6 – 9 hours
DAY 5 ALTERNATIVE
+ 1853 m / – 723 m
6 – 9 hours
To camp at Koruldi Lakes instead of continuing to Mestia, simply turn left when the trail joins the dirt road and start climbing. The lakes are popular with day-trippers from Mestia, and numerous 4x4s power up the track each day. By all accounts it can be quite busy, but in the evening and early morning it is a peaceful place, and the views and reflections make it a special place to camp.
TURN-OFF → KORULDI LAKES | 1.8 km | + 320 m | 45 – 60 mins
1.8 km | + 320 m
45 – 60 mins
Turn left and climb the steep hill for around an hour to reach Koruldi Lakes. There is a hiking trail to the left of the road for most of the way. There are wonderful views and reflections in the lakes at the top, and it’s a nice spot to camp. There is a stream close by (about 1 km and 100 metres extra in elevation) along the trail leading to the right around the hillside. The lake water is dirty and not suitable for drinking.
Reflections and mountain views to enjoy in the morning at Koruldi Lakes
Reflections and mountain views to
enjoy in the morning at Koruldi Lakes
If you do decide to camp at the lakes, to get down to Mestia simply retrace your steps to the Gul Pass turn-off and join the trail as outlined in the Day 5 section above.
WHEN TO TREK FROM CHUBERI TO MESTIA
Svaneti is accessible year-round. However, high passes such as Gul Pass remain snow-bound until summer, and it starts to get pretty cold again in mid-Autumn. July to September is the ideal trekking time, with the trail generally quieter later in the season. Water levels tend to be lower in September, making stream crossings easier, but leaving some springs dry.
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CHUBERI TO MESTIA TREK PRACTICALITIES
Hiking the Transcaucasian Trail between Chuberi and Mestia takes most people around 5 days, with 1 night camping and 3 nights in guesthouses. However, this isn’t set in stone. Some sections of the trail go through fairly remote areas, but for the most part there are numerous villages and settlements, and it’s possible to tailor your itinerary in different ways. We’ve covered a few practicalities below to help you prepare for your trek.
It is possible to stay in guesthouses every night on the Chuberi to Mestia trek. However, this requires a long and tough day between Chuberi and Nakra at the start (or end, depending on the direction you choose to hike). So, many hikers choose to camp near Utviri Pass on Day 1 in order to break up the distance, and opt for guesthouses each night after. Alternatively, you could choose to start (or end) at Nakra, meaning you definitely don’t need camping gear.
Of course, you don’t have to stay in guesthouses. If you prefer to camp you can do so for the entire trek, carrying food supplies with you or eating in guesthouses along the way. We’ve marked possible camp spots on our map for each day of the hike, and we cover guesthouses in more detail below.
The only place to buy meals during the hike is at guesthouses, and you can eat at them even if you are camping. It is usually around 10 GEL for breakfast or lunch, and 15 – 20 GEL for dinner. Outside of Mestia, there is only one shop where you can stock up on supplies. This is at the Hanmer Guesthouse in Etseri. As such, it’s a good idea to bring some hiking snacks with you, although not too many as the meals are generally quite filling.
If you plan to camp near Utviri Pass, you will need food for dinner and breakfast. Guesthouse meals generally consist of potatoes, soup, chistvari (fried corn bread stuffed with cheese), more cheese, and bread. Breakfast often resembles dinner a little too closely, with the addition of some boiled eggs. You can ask for Khachapuri to carry with you for lunch, or a ‘lunch box’ which will also include tomatoes, cucumber, a boiled egg, bread, etc.
In our experience, the quality of guesthouse meals between Chuberi and Mestia is pretty average. The notable exception is the Hanmer Guesthouse which serves excellent food.
There are streams and mountain springs situated along the trail. Some springs run dry later in the season, so be aware that those marked on mapping apps can’t always be relied upon. Personally, we always sterilise drinking water collected from streams (using a Steripen), and we recommend you use your prefered sterilisation method to do the same. For good, ready-to-drink water there are taps in almost every village, and you can also fill up at guesthouses.
Sunset view of Mt Laila (4009 m) from Etseri
Sunset view of Mt Laila (4009 m) from Etseri
The route is waymarked and signposted between Chuberi and Mestia (with some sections more consistently marked than others). However, it’s advisable to use an offline mapping app such as Maps.me, Gaia, or OSMand to follow the route via GPS. You can download our KML/GPX tracks to use with these apps. The Transcaucasian Trail website also has a downloadable KMZ file of the route.
If you prefer to use a paper map or just like to have it for reference, you can buy trekking map #10 from Geoland in Tbilisi. This covers the area around Mt Ushba, Koruldi Lakes, and Mestia (but not the whole route).
There are ATMs in Mestia, but nowhere else in Svaneti. Bring enough cash (in small denominations) to pay for meals and guesthouses. Cards are not accepted. Budget 70 – 80 GEL per person per night for dinner, bed, and breakfast.
PHONE RECEPTION AND INTERNET
You can’t rely on phone reception and a data connection for the entire Chuberi to Mestia trek. However, in most villages and at many places on the trail you will be able to get a signal with a Magticom SIM. Remember to set any webpages you want to reference on the trail to ‘read offline’ beforehand.
Yr.no (iOS/Android) and Windy (iOS/Android) are the best weather apps we know of. They don’t work offline, but are very useful for checking the weather in advance. With Yr.no you can search for areas like Utviri Pass (search nearby Mq’invari Utviri), Bak Pass (Pereval Bak), and Gul Pass (Gora Gul). With Windy you can drop a pin on any location for an accurate forecast. Mountain Forecast is also helpful for detailed weather reports in the areas around significant peaks such as Ushba and Tetnuldi. If you have a Garmin InReach like us, you can get weather reports at any location.
The twin peaks of Ushba just about revealing themselves, seen from the viewpoint above Mestia
The twin peaks of Ushba just about revealing
themselves, seen from the viewpoint above Mestia
TRAVEL INSURANCE FOR TREKKING AT ALTITUDE
It’s important to note that most travel insurance providers will only cover hiking up to a certain altitude as standard (often 2500 m or 3000 m). In order to be covered for hiking above this, you will probably need to add on an ‘activity pack’ or such like. The highest point on the Chuberi to Mestia trek sits at 2941 m, so make sure you check in advance whether your travel insurance policy covers you or not.
Whether you are currently in your home country or are already travelling, two travel insurance policy providers that can cover for hiking above 3000 m are World Nomads (for residents of 140+ countries) and True Traveller (for UK and EEA residents only). We have purchased travel insurance policies from both of these companies in the past. We have found their policies to be comprehensive, and their online claims and extension processes straightforward.
If you still need to organise your travel insurance, we’d suggest getting a quote from each to see which suits you best.
TREK IN AND OUT OF TUSHETI
CHUBERI TO MESTIA TREK PACKING LIST
There are a number of things we recommend packing in order to make your Chuberi to Mestia trek run smoothly and safely. We’ve compiled some useful lists and provided more info below.
Make sure you pack clothing for all weather eventualities. The weather can be very unpredictable, change quickly, and vary greatly between the lower and higher altitudes. You need waterproofs and layers (including a base layer, mid layer, and outer layer). Ideally your base layers should be made from merino wool or sweat-wicking material. Avoid jeans or any cotton materials – if they get wet they are heavy, take forever to dry, and you’ll get cold easily. A hat, gloves and sunglasses are also needed. Make sure you have proper footwear (ideally hiking boots) that are broken in already. It’s a good idea to pack a pair of sandals too for the wearing around camp/guesthouses.
You’ll need the usual hiking gear, such as a backpack, hiking poles, a refillable water bottle or water bladder, a water purification method, a first aid kit, rubbish bags for carrying out all your waste, a headtorch, and suncream.
If you plan to camp, you’ll need a tent, sleeping mat, and sleeping bag. We always like to have a pillow and sleeping liner too. You’ll also need a small burner, gas canister and cooking supplies if you want a hot meal.
You can rent camping gear at MPlus in Tbilisi. You can buy screw-in style camping gas at Geoland or MPlus in Tbilisi, and in various shops along the main street in Mestia.
A power bank is always a good idea for charging your phone, camera batteries, etc. However, you’re never far from an electricity supply when trekking from Chuberi to Mestia. Just remember to pack an adapter for charging at guesthouses.
CHUBERI TO MESTIA GUESTHOUSES
Guesthouse accommodation is available in Chuberi, Nakra, Kichkhuldashi, Pari, Etseri, Mazeri, and Mestia. They usually charge around 70 – 80 GEL per person for dinner, bed & breakfast. It’s also possible to get a packed lunch (often referred to as a ‘lunch box’), or indeed no meals at all (but with nowhere else to eat, it makes sense to include the meals in your stay). The exception is Mestia, which has many restaurants and cafes, therefore guesthouses commonly don’t serve dinner.
Some places offer rooms with private bathrooms but most have shared facilities. Guesthouses provide bedding and towels. Some places will serve dinner and breakfast at one set time, especially if many guests are staying, while others will serve meals at a time you request.
There are a few guesthouses in Chuberi, with limited options available to book in advance via Booking.com, including the modern Hotel Chubezeni. For any others, just call ahead if you want to make a reservation. We stayed at Guesthouse Babi (+995599244162), run by a very friendly family. The rooms, bathroom, and guest kitchen are in a separate part of the house at the back. Check Google Maps for more options.
There are a few guesthouses in Nakra, including a couple which you can book online in advance. We stayed at Nakra Tower both times, and Green House in Nakra is also a good option. For other options, check Google Maps and call ahead to book.
There is only one guesthouse in Kichkhuldashi (actually, the only inhabited house in the village!), run by a very friendly older couple. We have to admit that the spring beds we slept in were very old and saggy, but the welcome by Valeri and his wife was one of the friendliest we had on the Chuberi to Mestia trail. You can’t book online, and the village doesn’t even appear on Google Maps (but it is on Maps.me).
Sunset mountain layers, seen from the guesthouse balcony in Kichkhuldashi
Sunset mountain layers, seen from the
guesthouse balcony in Kichkhuldashi
Pari is a fairly big village, with a couple of guesthouses including Lerimari Guesthouse and Guesthouse Melen.
Etseri is the collective name for a number of villages including Iskari and Barshi. Hanmer Guesthouse serves excellent food and Welsh/Georgian owners Tony and Lali speak English. They also run a well stocked shop, the only one along the hiking route. Other options include Guesthouse Bidzina Gujejiani, located in the upper part. Note that the location on booking.com is inaccurate. To find it, turn right beyond Barshi towards Cheliri (as marked on Maps.me), and follow the track north all the way to the end. If you are lost you can call them on +995598391966 or +995596108062. The daughter, Mari, speaks English. GergHouse and Guest House Eceri are two more alternatives.
There are numerous guesthouses in Mazeri. Lia Jamdeliani Guesthouse comes highly recommended for good food and comfortable balconies. Peak Mazeri Guesthouse has incredible views of Mt Ushba from many of the bedroom windows, and a friendly host, Murman. The cheaper rooms have a shared bathroom, and there are numerous rooms with private bathrooms and balconies with Ushba views. Grand Hotel Ushba is the fanciest place in town, with an english speaking owner, Richard, who is very knowledgeable about local hiking trails.
There are endless accommodation options in Mestia. We highly recommend Mushkudiani Manor, a medium sized guesthouse (5 rooms with 3 shared bathrooms) by the river with wonderful tower views. It’s run by a very welcoming family, and Nino makes a great breakfast. It’s located close to the start of the Mestia to Ushguli trail, as well as the Dede Pub and Cinema. Another good option recommended by friends is Guest House Keti Margiani, an attractive stone and wood building near the top of the cobbled street on the trail as you enter Mestia. You can search many more Mestia accommodation options on booking.com.
GETTING TO CHUBERI/MESTIA
Chuberi is the collective name for a group of villages in the Nenskra valley in western Svaneti, one of which is Kvemo Marghi, where the trek starts. There is no public transport going all the way, but Kvemo Marghi is approximately 7 km from the main Zugdidi – Mestia road, which is serviced by marshrutkas (up to 25 GEL per person). You can get dropped off on the main road at Tobari then walk for about 2 hours. Alternatively, you can take a private taxi from Zugdidi for up to 100 GEL. The road to the village is a mixture of sealed and unsealed, but it can be driven by almost any car, with care.
Zugdidi is the main hub for public transport to Mestia. Marshrutkas leave from Zugdidi train station regularly from early morning until early afternoon (the last leaves around 1430). It takes 3 – 4 hours and costs 25 GEL.
From Mestia to Zugdidi, marshrutkas depart from the main square at 8am, 12pm, and 2pm.
From Tbilisi, the best way to get to Zugdidi is by train. Search and book tickets via matarabeli.ge, railway.ge, or tkt.ge.
From Kutaisi, a direct marshrutka departs for Mestia from the bus station near McDonalds at 1000. Go early to secure a seat.
It’s also possible to fly from Kutaisi or Natakhtari (near Tbilisi) to Mestia with Vanilla Sky. Seats are very reasonably priced, however it’s a small plane and they book out far in advance, especially in peak summer season.
This Chuberi to Mestia trek connects perfectly with the next section of The Transcaucasian Trail, the popular Mestia to Ushguli route which takes a further 3-4 days. Chuberi is also quite close to Khaishi, a start/end point for the challenging 5 day Tobavarchkhili Lake trek.
CHUBERI TO MESTIA TREKKING GUIDE
SVANETI | GEORGIA
That’s the lot for our Chuberi to Mestia trekking guide. If you have any useful info to add or stories to share, get in touch through the comments section below. Equally, if you have any questions, let us know and we’ll do our best to answer them. And if you’re planning your own trek, good luck and enjoy!