Found at an elevation of 1,500 meters, the Alpine beauty of the Svaneti region and Mestia makes for one of the most photogenic regions in all of Georgia. The region is inhabited largely by Svans, a unique ethnic group with their own language. In the Upper Svaneti on the upper Inguri River is the main town in the region, Mestia, which is host to the stone defensive towers and fortified dwellings. Most notable for the landscape are the picturesque summits of the nearby mountain range, with the signature peak being Mount Ushba which towers over the Inguri Gorge and features pale white glaciers throughout the year. With the history of the Svan domination of the region going back to the sixth century, the Svaneti became a safe haven of culture and religion during the Mongol invasions that devastated much of Europe, due in part to the region’s relative isolation.
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Mestia and Upper Svaneti offers some of the best and most scenic hiking in the Caucasus. From medieval stone towers and cozy homestays to amazing panoramas of snow-capped peaks and alpine scenes, Mestia has a variety of day-hikes and challenging longer trails that take hikers to the best of Georgia’s great outdoors.
Riding through Mestia’s trails is another way to experience the beauty of Upper Svaneti that is equally as rewarding and authentic. You can even explore trails the locals ride when they tend to the cattle or go hunting.
A trip from Mestia is the easiest way to reach Ushguli, a community of four villages tucked around the foot of Shkhara, one of the highest Caucasian summits. It is the highest continually inhabited settlement in Europe, at 7,000 feet. This Tolkein-esque valley in sky is remote and was largely unvisited for centuries. Today visitors who make the trip are welcome to savor the local meat-filled flatbread, take pictures of the unique stone-tower homes, visit the small museum, and enjoy the scenery.
Museum of History and Ethnography
Founded in 1936, this museum houses historic artifacts from the Svaneti region, including a rich collection of manuscripts, medieval weaponry, jewelry, textiles, and ethnographic artifacts depicting ancient life in Svaneti.
Hatsvali Ski Station
Just a few miles away from Mestia is Hatsvali ski area, one of Georgia’s most remote and spectacular mountain regions. Visitors can reach Hatsvali by car or six chair ski lift, where Hatsvali resort serves its guests all year round. Skiers of all experience levels can enjoy the variety of ski tracks and covers.
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With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, in the continent that our north American founders Catherine and Jay have adored and explored for decades, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.
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