Together with my girlfriend, I had the pleasure of participating on a trek in Svanetia , led by a guide from Carpathian Travellers. It was a 7 day hike, from the town Mestia to the village Chvelpi, a distance of about 75 km. We were 14 people all in all.
The mountains in Svanetia are very beautiful! During the hike we saw fantastic views of the mountains, valleys, rivers, and fields. The mountain tops are majestic; it’s quite breath-taking to see the high peaks covered in snow against the clear-blue sky, in this wild landscape. The fields contain an abundance of beautiful wild flowers, and there are mighty rivers in the valleys. The small villages that we passed were lovely as well, with the typical Svanetian towers looming high.
Aside from the first day, we carried tents, sleeping bags etc. in our rucksacks, as well as the food that we were eating on the trail. Since the mountain sides in Svanetia are pretty steep, this meant a pretty good physical exercise! But our guide Ivan made sure that the tempo was ok for the whole group, and made breaks when needed. We usually started walking each day at around 10, beginning by going uphill over a mountain ridge. At the top of the ridge we would have some lunch, and then the afternoon would usually be spent walking downhill, or along a river in a valley. I felt that the route was very thoroughly planned, it’s always better to begin each by walking uphill than vice versa. And Ivan knew very good spots for where we would sleep during the nights, always with good access to water, firewood etc., as well as flat ground to put up the tents on.
We all helped out with cooking the food. Each day, a couple of people would be on “duty”, meaning they were in charge of cooking breakfast, arranging the lunch and cooking dinner. Breakfast and dinner were cooked over a campfire, using pots and pans carried by Ivan. The food was delicious! Whereas I am used to very simple and light trekking food like e.g. noodles, the food on this trek included lots of ingredients like cheese, sausages, carrots, potatoes, bread (a very tasty Georgian bread, called Lavash!), and more. At one campsite, Ivan and the others even found mushrooms, which was a nice addition. And since we passed several mountain villages on our path, some of days it was also possible to buy a beer for dinner, for those who wanted!
Even though our guide Ivan had a plan for each day, he was also very flexible, depending on for example weather. For example, when it was raining, he made sure we stopped at a suitable place, rather than try to push our way through a path that would have been very difficult in the wet mud. He also listened to and observed the participants, and adjusted the plans accordingly, making sure that everyone was ok. It felt very safe to have a guide with us, who would make good decisions based on experience!
After the trek Ivan arranged transport back to the city of Kutaisi, and in the following days he helped us visit some of the sites around the city, like e.g. the Prometheus cave. After that we went to the city of Batumi by the Black Sea, where we had a lovely and relaxing time on the beach!
All in all I’m very glad to have been on this fantastic journey, and I can really recommend it!