Horseriding in the Georgian Svaneti Mountains

Horseriding in the Georgian Svaneti Mountains

Situated on the southern slopes of the central Caucasus Mountainsand surrounded by 3,000–5,000 meter peaks, Svaneti is the highest inhabited area in the Caucasus. The Svaneti mountains will instantly charm you with their alpine meadows, snow-capped mountain peaks, rapid streams, and ancient legends that come to life there. With its numerous old Orthodox churches and fortifications the region also reveals a lot about Georgian culture and history adding up to an amazing horse riding experience. If you are an experienced horse rider we invite you to explore Svaneti on our week long day journey where every day we would cover about 25 km (15.5 miles).

Highlights:
♦ Svaneti Mountains - carved by deep gorges and revealing stunning views of towering peaks and glaciers, the Svaneti Mountains offer a landscape that you will constantly keep you in awe during the trip.
♦ Ushguli - it is one of the most famous villages of Svaneti. Ushguli consists of 4 villages. One of the villages is home to a unique kind of architecture that is listed as a UNESCO heritage site. Ushguli is located right in between so called "Lower Svaneti" and "Upper Svaneti" and its name is translated from Georgian as "the heart of Svaneti".
♦ Chaladi Glacier - a glacial area with outstanding views


Itinerary:

Day 1. Arrival
Ariival to Tbilisi or Kutaisi and transfer to our hotel for overnight. -/-/-

Day 2. Mestia
Transfer to Mestia by public minibus "marshrutka". Overnight guest house in Mestia. B/-/D

Day 3. Mestia - Etseri - Mazeri
Short transfer to the village Etseri where we meet the horses. The trail follows a wide dirt road that is used a lot by locals. We will be passing through a few villages of the Etseri community, then the road starts going up into the alpine meadows where villagers keep their cattle in summer, and over Baki pass (highest point for today, 2460 m). Great views of Ushba, surrounding glaciers, Dolra valley and the Svaneti Range. After you pass Baki and start descending through a forest and finally merges with a wider forest road that descends into Mazeri village. B/-/D

Day 4. Mazeri - Latali
The trail starts in Mazeri, follows the Dolra river downstream, crosses the bridge and continues downstream on the other side until Ushkhvanari. Here the trail starts climbing up gradually until it comes to a view-point at 1600 m. Soon the ruined towers of abandoned village Ipkhi show and the trail goes down into Latali, near St. Jonah’s church (Ienashi). Overnight guest house Latali. 3-4 hours riding. B/-/D

Day 5. Latali - Mkheeri - Mestia
Todays ride will follow the main dirt road down to the river (Enguri). After you pass some ruins at Lahili, the trail goes up more or less straight, following a shady forest road that the locals use a lot on horseback. It’s a steady uphill ascent in a pleasant mixed forest. Finally the path reaches the alpine zone and we will see Archangel’s church of Mkheri (2500 m) and some shepherds’ huts. The church building is new, restored by archaeologists in the 1990’s from the ruins of an ancient monastery that had been buried by an avalanche in the Middle Ages. From the church there is a splendid view into Lailachala valley and the waterfalls formed from a glacier that melted away some 50 years ago. If you are lucky with the weather, you should enjoy a view of a large section of the Great Caucasus and a big part of Upper Svaneti. Transfer back to Mestia for overnight. 5-6 hours riding B/-/D

Day 6. Mestia - Chvabiani
The trail starts in central Mestia at 1450 m above sea level. We ride over Kakhyri Range (highest point 1900 m) to arrive in Mulakhi Community which comprises several villages on both sides of the Mulkhura river. The tyrail continues to Lakhiri, a village with magnificent architectural adornment: some 18 medieval Svan towers forming an impressive ensemble that reminds of a huge castle. After we pass Lakhiri, we will cross the bridge over the Mulkhura to enter Chvabiani where we stay overnight, 4-5 hours riding, B/-/D

Day 7. Chvabiani - Adishi
From Chvabiani and Zhabeshi the trail goes up Mt. Tetnuldi and joins the road to Tetnuldi ski resort. This is the most difficult part of the way – uphill and along the road with no shade. The trail first follows the main car road to Tetnuldi ski resort, but then a footpath branches off to the right (in the alpine zone, a few hundred meters higher up the road after you pass hotel “Tetnuldi Paradise”, see location “2” on the map). There will be no more significant elevation changes as we ride on to Adishi. Overnight guest house. 3-4 hours riding B/-/D

Day 8. Adishi - Iprali
We have to leave early today as we need to cross Adishchala river where the water level is lowest in the morning. After we cross the river the trail goes up Chkhutnieri pass (highest point for today, 2722 m) with great views of surrounding mountains and Adishi glacier. From the pass the trail descends in wide loops into the next valley and at the shepherds’ huts you need to turn right and follow Khaldechala river all the way down to Iprali. Overnight in Iprali, 4-5 hour riding B/-/D

Day 9. Iprali - Ushguli -Mestia
Our last day in the saddle is a bit shorter without big ascents and descents. The trail from Iprali crosses the Khaldechala rive then follows a small dirt road uphill. The trail goes through alpine meadows above the Enguri river and merges with the main road to Ushguli about two km before the village. before reaching Ushguli we will visit Lamaria monastery. After we say good bye to our horses our driver will picj us up and will drive us back to Mestia. 3 hours riding, B/-/D

Day 10. Mestia - Tbilisi/Kutaisi. Departure

NB! We use typical Caucasian saddles. Steel saddle bows are set on wooden frames/benches.
This construction is covered with a moderately hard pillow made of leather.
The pillow is kept in its place by a strap, usually made of strings, which serves as a girth at the same time. Tail docks are common.
Stirrup leathers in Georgia are quite short – Georgians practice a distinctive seat: legs in the front, knees high.
Stirrups are quite wide, trekking shoes fit inside well. Bridles are made in a usual way, but the reins are often made of sackcloth tape or rope.
Caucasian riding equipment often raises doubts, but it’s quite comfortable actually.
Pommels and cantles are quite high to stabilize riders in mountainous terrain and the pillow absorbs bumps.
This non-standard construction is quite practical when it comes to attaching larger quantities of luggage.


Price Includes:
5 nights standard hotels/guest houses in Tbilisi or Kutaisi and Mestia in rooms with ensuite facilities
four nights guesthouses shared facilities
all meals acc. itinerary
saddled horses
English speaking local guides
transfers to Mestia in public transport

Not Included:
personal expenses
tips
airport transfer in Tbilisi
bus tickets Mestia - Tbilisi on day 10

Additional Services:
Supplement pp. at 3 riders: 315 EUR
Supplement pp. at 2 riders: 500 EUR, Private transfer from Tbilisi
Kutaisi: on request


Gallery


Horseriding in the Georgian Svaneti Mountains (Rated 4.74 / 5 Based on 121 Reviews.)

These tours include trekking which is a little harder, normally on a challenging terrain. We take it for granted that you are in good condition and fit. You should be physically prepared at home to get the maximum of the tour. Most of the trekking is done at a greater height (max 3000m).

These tours include trekking which is a little harder, normally on a challenging terrain. We take it for granted that you are in good condition and fit. You should be physically prepared at home to get the maximum of the tour. Most of the trekking is done at a greater height (max 3000m).

Group Size
4-6 riders
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