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Svaneti Hiking Trail MESTIA - TSVIRMI

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE ROUTE

This trail acquaints us with beautiful surroundings of the Enguri River valley and villages of Tsvirmi community.

Route type: on foot or horseback
Length, km: 16
Duration of travel on foot, hours: 7
Route Altitude at the beginning, m: 1400
The Highest point, m 2010
Type of road: Path, sleigh track
Recommended period: 1st June - 15 October
Trail Marking: On trees, boulders

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DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE ROUTE

The route begins in the centre of Mestia, roughly 500 m on it crosses the rivers Mestiachala and Mulkhura, it turns right at the signpost, passes the museum on the left, enters the woods and goes up a rise along a marked dirt road. Another signpost is placed six kilometers from Mestia, on the site of the former village Kheshkildi (1). The trail splits into two forks here – the left fork is a sleigh track heading up to Mount Zuruldi, and the right fork goes to the village of Ieli.

Road elevation varies between 1750 and 2000 m. The Svaneti Ridge and its snowy peaks are continuously seen to the right, and villages Ieli, Atsi, Tsvirmi and Zegani, and the river Enguri flowing in a deep canyon at 1400 m altitude will be visible from time to time straight ahead.

At the tenth kilometer from Mestia the trail passes through the village of Ieli (2). This is the only place on earth where the ancient method of sedimentation of gold using sheepskins is still practiced (so called Golden Fleece). The road terminates at Ieli. On the outskirts of the village the trail enters the woods along a clearly visible path. At 2010 m the trail splits into two forks (3). The trail follows the right fork, which descends steeply; soon it comes out of the woods and heads to a stream. The trail crosses the stream and then descends to the village of Tsvirmi along a sleigh track. The village of Tsvirmi is 15-20 minutes’ walking distance from the stream.

The village of Tsvirmi (4) is located at 1900 m altitude on a plateau. It is noted for the abundance of potato crops and a great number of churches. A family hotel, where one can stay the night is close by a signpost placed in the village centre. The route terminates here.

After Tsvirmi we are to continue toward the Ugviri pass (5) along a dirt road. Roughly two and half kilometers from Tsvirmi the trail crosses the Mestia-Ushguli highway, where a signpost is placed. After the signpost we can hike back to Mestia along the highway (it is 12 km to Mestia) or we can continue along a sleigh track that enters thick woods and steadily climbs to 2370 m where it crosses a path (6) that leads from the village of Zhabeshi to the village of Adishi. A signpost is placed at the intersection. If we wish to, we can go from here to Zhabeshi and from thence hike back to Mestia, or we can go to Adishi and from thence hike back to Ushguli. It’s 3,5 km to Zhabeshi, and it’s 8,2 km to Adishi.

This portion of the route mainly goes through wooded terrain. In the beginning coniferous forests are prevalent, then it is mixed forests and finally it will be birch forests. Peaks of the Main Caucasus are seen from cleared and sparsely wooded areas along the route.

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