Ushguli – Svaneti mountain settmenent
Русская версия Situated 2200 meters over the sea level, the Georgian settlement Ushguli is European highest permanent village after Kurush in Dagestan. It is separated from Mestia by about 30 kilometers and 3 hours driving on the terrible road, with the limited transportation available. But Ushguli landscape is worth that.
The price for the return trip from Mestia starts from 80 dollars, which makes many budget travellers go on foot. Koba, who hosted us , was also a professional driver. He kept the promise he had given inviting us to find the travelers to join us, so that we could split the price. While we were having breakfast in the morning, he indeed found two Japanese girls.
We left Mestia after 9 and reached it at about 12. Koba turned out to be a very safe driver; on our way, he also told a lot of stories. But what was the way…
The road, often steep, went along the river.
Sometimes it was like this:
And sometimes – like this:
And even this:
The video is even more convincing:
That is how the car looked like when we reached our destination.
Closer to Ushguli, Koba showed to us a hill and a castle where Queen Tamara, often associated with Georgian golden age, had lived.
And this is finally the settlement of Ushguli:
The village has many famous Svan towers defending their dwellers from the avalanches. They, however, could not prevent the destruction of the village at least once (that is what we know now).
Many of Koba’s stories about Ushguli and its surroundings included the motif of vendetta – which was quite usual for this region. Of course, there is a story about two young lovers who could not be together, since their families were blood enemies. Needless to say, that the girl committed suicide by jumping into the mountain lake.
Koba also showed to us a small church on a hill, and told that this is the main place for pilgrimage for the dwellers of the region. The believers try to get here on the main church holidays.
An important sight here is a 15-kilometer footpath, leading to the glacier. It goes along and often crosses a smaller river.
Some travelers even managed the road by the car.
On our way, we saw a camp of rock climbers. After several days, in Batumi, we met those who went up into the mountains from here on the same days, as we were in Svaneti. Their climb turned out to be very dangerous, even life threatening due to the bad weather. Indeed, while the weather seemed fine below, the mountains were surrounded with thick clouds.
After a couple of hours of walk, it seemed to us that the glacier was very close.
But the path we were following became very narrow and went up the hill through the very tall grass. Our sandals did not suit for such a road, that is why after walking a bit and taking pictures of the glacier, which seemed really close now, we had to turn back when the grass started to reach our chests.
As we learned later, we should have crossed the river at the road bifurcation, which had been really hard to notice. We did not, so we took a wrong path. It is difficult to guess if you don’t know about it, really. Koba advised just to go straight, and we followed his recommendations.
Coming back to Ushguli from the glacier we had almost reached, we waited for our Japanese fellow travelers and took some pictures meanwhile.
The Japanese did not go far – they stayed in a local pub. We went home together, to start with the beach part – Batumi and Gonio – on the next day.