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ZESKHO TRAIL: Svaneti - Mountainous Racha

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE ROUTE

Svaneti and Racha are the neighbouring mountain regions. The Vatsistsveri ("Feather Grass") Pass over the Lechkhumi Ridge has served as a crossover track between them for ages. This historical track runs along the Main Caucasus and offers an opportunity to enjoy this most austere and inaccessible part of the Caucasus.

Distances, by car, km:  
  Tbilisi-Tskaltubo-Lentekhi-Zeskho 395
  Ghebi-Oni-Tbilisi 350
Route type: Two-way on foot
Length of the track, km: 28
Trip duration, days: 2
Route altitudes, m, beginning/end: 1840 - 1550
The highest point, m 2900
Track Type: Path and sleigh-road
Pass - two, altitudes, m: Latpari - 2500
  Vatsistsveri - 2900
Flora: Birch, maple
Fauna: Chamois, ibex, roe deer, trout
Recommended period: 1 June - 20 September
Marking: On rocks, boulders, birch-trees
A rope and two carbines are needed  

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DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE ROUTE

The route starts at the mountaineering centre Zeskho (1) in Lower Svaneti at an altitude of 1840 m above sea level. The path runs along the Zeskhura River gorge (2) past the shepherdsÂ’ huts located along the left Zeskhura tributary and then heads south-east. The path runs through the maple forest and passing the landslip section it then approaches the Lapuri Ridge at an altitude of 2200 m above sea level. From this point up to the Pass (3) the route becomes more arduous as it crosses snow and screes. Over the mountain the path descends to the River Tskhenistskali gorge and joins the sleigh-road (4) which descends to the Tskhenistskali River (5) flowing at an altitude of 1800 m. At the ruins of a stock-breeding farm (6) on the left bank of the river the route goes west along the right bank of the Lapuri Rivulet and at an altitude of 2350 m it heads north to the Vatsistsveri Pass. Here (7) you can sight the chamois, ibex or roe deer. You can also pitch a camp and fish for trout with a fishing-rod in the Tskhenistskali River and its tributaries (8).

Via the Vatsistsveri Pass (9) the route leads to the Rioni gorge in Racha. The summits of Tsurungala, Ailama, Pitnargini and Mt. Pasi (10) can be seen to the north of the Pass. The Pass descends over the ridges towards the lakes (11,12). From the Lake Sasvano (12) the direction of the path is visible along the Rioni gorge, its two right tributaries and a tin-roofed former shelter (13). After crossing the Sasvanotskali River (14) the path runs alternatively through fields and copses, passes the shepherdsÂ’ summer settlements of Patskheura (15) and Shiukachala (16) and merges into the cart road leading to the village of Ghebi.

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