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LATPHARI TRAIL: Upper Svaneti - lower Svaneti Latphari Range Route

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE ROUTE

There are several passes on Svaneti Range. Latphari is the lowest, the shortest and the easiest among them. It has been used since the old times for foot and cartage. Where there have been pressing circumstances it used to be passed even in winters by means of a special gear called "bandulebi". During the medieval epoch this place was the main communication artery connecting Upper Svaneti with the rest of the country.

In 1875-76 the punitive squads of the Russian Empire entered Upper Svaneti through the Latphari Pass and moved their mountain artillery through the same route. Currently the road is used only by locals for such needs as mowing, logging, hunting, and also as a tourist trail. The traces of the old sleigh path can still be visible there.

Distances, by car, km:  
  Tbilisi - Mestia - Kala 520
  Tchvelphi - Lentekhi - Tkibuli - Tbilisi 490
  Mestia - Davbera (where the route
      starts)
28
  Tchvelphi - Zeskho (where the route
      "Zeskho" starts)
32
  Tchvelphi - Lentekhi (regional centre
      of the Lower Svaneti)
23
Route type: On foot or horseback 28 km
Length of the route, km:
      (it can be passed
      on foot during a day)
13
Trip duration, on foot, hours: 11 - 12
Route altitudes, m, beginning/end: 1780 - 1250
The highest point, m 2820
Track Type: Path and sleigh-road
Flora: Birch, maple, Caucasian rhododendron
Fauna: Chamois, ibex, roe deer, trout
Recommended period: 1 June - 20 September
Marking: On rocks, boulders, trees

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DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE ROUTE

The Latpari Pass is one of the lowest and most convenient tracks on the Svaneti Range. For a long time it has been used as a main crossover track between Upper and Lower Svaneti.

The route starts at the village of Davberi (which is part of the Kala community) at the confluence of the Enguri River and its left tributary near the water mill (1) at an altitude of 1780 m above sea level (see the map). The path runs along the right side of the Mushuri Rivulet. On your way you will find a spring where you can stock up on water. On reaching the fork at an altitude of 2100 m take the left-hand track (2). At an altitude of 2300 m the road levels out, crosses the grassland and then goes through the birch-grove and the Caucasian rhododendron undergrowth. From the altitude of 2400 m there is a panorama of a snowy cone of Tetnuldi (4) to the north, the Ushba massif (5) to the north-west and Mt. Mushuri (6) to the south-east; you can also see the road landmark – two relay towers. At the altitude of 2600 m the road again forks into two branches (7). The route turns right and goes uphill towards the Latpari Range. At the highest point of the Pass - 2820 m there is a lake (9) on the Range and a tower structure/shelter (10). From here three paths descend to the western slope towards the shepherds’ hut ruins (11). The uppermost of these is marked. From the hut the path leads into the undergrowth and descends to the 3-4 meter rocky edge where the Tskhenistskali gorge, some populated areas and the lake on Mt. Chvelpi (12) come into view to the south-east. The path goes into the fields and winds towards the lake. At the foot of the slope near the dry stream there is the lake and potable water (13) is available.

From the fields the path leads into the forest leaving the lake to the right and heads towards the village of Chvelpi. At an altitude of 1900 m there are two stock-breeding huts (14) from which, in 20 minutes walk, the path joins the sleigh-road at the altitude of 1650 m, it then goes past some derelict houses (15) across the hayfields and enters the village of Chvelpi along a wide stream (16).

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