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Wandern in Georgien, Bild: Marco Schätzel

Hiking paradise Georgia: Camping & Trekking in the Caucasus

Georgia is love for me at first, second and also at every further sight. The country in the Caucasus has made it very far into my heart. On the one hand, this is due to the hospitable locals and the delicious Georgian cuisine – but above all to the outstanding and diverse landscapes. I am particularly fond of the mountains in Georgia. They are beautiful, some of them over 5,000 meters very high and in many regions they are still very wild. In my opinion, the most beautiful way to discover the country is definitely with a tent and trekking backpack! Thus, you can discover the most impressive sides of the Caucasus on multi-day hikes and experience the nature of Georgia even more intensively.

When choosing worthwhile hiking areas, trekking enthusiasts are spoilt for choice:

Historic fortified towers and charming mountain villages in Svaneti

The Svaneti region is probably the most famous tourist trekking area in Georgia and there are good reasons for that. Numerous tours in all possible lengths and levels of difficulty await hikers here. A very beautiful and popular multi-day hike leads, for example, from Mestia to Ushguli, the highest mountain village in Europe. The road to Ushguli runs over a pass of almost 3,000 meters, past glaciers, mountain rivers and breathtaking views. On the way, you can camp in beautiful places or spend the night in cozy, family-run accommodations. A characteristic feature in Svaneti are also the historic fortified towers, which characterize the image of the small villages here and serve as an ideal photo motif. In the high-lying mountain settlements, life is very comfortable and original. Nevertheless, there is no lack of amenities – after energy-sapping (multi-day) hikes, you can enjoy a few hearty Georgian specialties with a clear conscience in one of the rustic inns, such as Khachapuri, an incredibly filling and very tasty cheese flatbread. In combination with the beautiful nature, the villages in Svaneti are therefore the perfect place for a relaxing active holiday.

A wild ride into wild Tusheti

Abano Pass Tusheti
The Abano Pass in Tusheti, Image: Marco Schätzel

In search of a portion of adventure, my second trip to Georgia ended me in the little-developed and hard-to-reach mountain region of Tusheti. The journey to Tusheti alone is an experience that everyone who has done it will remember for a long time. The trail leads over the Abano Pass, the highest passable mountain pass in the Caucasus at over 2,800 meters. The gravel road winds its way through the mountains in hundreds of serpentines. The steep slopes and views down into the valley are sure to make one or the other’s heart slip into their pants. But the long and nerve-wracking drive to Tusheti is worth it! The region is even more pristine than other hiking areas in Georgia, as it is still little developed for tourism and the journey alone deters many travelers. If you still make your way to Omalo, the largest village in the region, you will find hikes in a class of their own, such as the multi-day trekking tour over the Borbalo Pass or the beautiful day walk from Ghele to the village of Parsma. By the way, a trip to Tusheti is only possible in the summer months – the Abano Pass is snowed in for most of the year and is not passable.

Kazbegi: Climb 5000m peaks and take postcard photos

Gergeti Church, Georgia
Gergeti Church, Image: Marco Schätzel

North of Tbilisi, on the way to Russia, lies another scenic pearl of Georgia – the Kazbegi region, with the Kazbek mountain of the same name. The Mt. At 5,054 meters, Kazbek is the third highest mountain in the country and eighth highest in the Caucasus! If you want to climb a 5,000-metre peak in Georgia, you can try it out here, especially since previous alpine experience is not necessarily necessary to climb the summit and the ascent should usually not take longer than three days. The city of Stepantsminda is the starting point for the ascent of Mt. Kazbek. From here, an asphalt road has recently led up to what is probably the most famous church in the country – the Gergeti Trinity Church. Picturesquely enthroned by the peaks of the Caucasus, the Holy Trinity Church is embedded in an incredibly beautiful panorama and is one of the most spectacular and popular photo motifs in Georgia.

If you don’t have enough time or strength to climb the summit, you can also hike up to the Kazbek Glacier from the Gergeti Church and will also be rewarded with fantastic views. The whole region around Kazbegi definitely offers enormous potential for hikers, both in terms of day hikes and multi-day trekking tours. Highly recommended and relatively little knowledgeable is, for example, the path from Sno to the picturesque mountain village of Juta. By the way, the way from Tbilisi to Stepantsminda, over the old military road, is paved throughout and the journey is therefore not as lengthy and adventurous as to Tusheti. Nevertheless, the drive is scenic!

The best time to hike? Now!

Just writing about Georgia makes my hiking heart beat faster and I will almost certainly be drawn back to the Caucasus pretty soon – there are many other beautiful hiking regions to discover! A good time to travel for hiking in Georgia is from May to the end of September, although trekking tours over high mountain passes are not snow-free until mid to late June. By the way, Georgia is a very interesting travel destination, especially at the moment, in times of Covid-19. The country has one of the lowest infection rates in the region and direct entry from Germany has been officially allowed for German citizens since July 8 (as of 23.08.2020).

Camping and hiking in the mountains of Georgia is probably one of the best and most beautiful ways to go on holiday relatively safely, despite the virus. But beware: the risk of infection for a lasting Georgia travel fever is of course still extremely high!