I spent my first evening visiting Svaneti in Mestia simply walking around the town, avoiding cows, and breathing the crisp mountain air. I got a good view of many Svan towers on my way, and even found an old ruined church right at the far edge of the town.
As I wasn’t feeling too confident about going hiking alone in such a remote wilderness, I opted to spend my one full day in Svaneti taking a day trip to Ushguli, a remote settlement relatively near to Mestia. When there is less snow around, many people spend four days hiking in Svaneti between Mestia and Ushguli, stopping at guesthouses along the route. I heard from one traveller I met that the road is also hitch-hike-able, with guesthouses in Ushguli making an overnight excursion feasible.
I was very kindly invited by the two girls who I met on the bus to join them in sharing the cost of a driver for the next day, and I’m very glad that I chose to accept. The stunning scenery, and the sun shining on the melting snow, lessened the scariness of riding there in such an unsuitable car, but that’s another story!
In about two hours, we arrived in Ushguli. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Ushguli is one of the highest inhabited settlements in Europe, and its lack of proper roads makes it feel very remote. Knee-deep snow drifts were still piled everywhere, making trudging through extremely challenging, but the village gave a unique insight into an old-fashioned way of life.
Being Easter, we hardly saw another soul, or any signs of human life, in Ushguli, and we only found one coffee shop that was (probably unofficially) open.They greeted us warmly anyway, and their tables were piled high with prepared food for the later festivities!
Written by: mywanderlust.pl