SVANETI (სვანეთი)

The whole day we drove through breathtakingly wild and mysterious Svaneti, an ancient land locked in the Caucasus, so remote that any ruler never tamed it. We were passing uniquely picturesque villages and snow-covered, 4000m-plus peaks rising above flower-strewn alpine meadows (in the Spring) to reach Mestia. Svaneti was renowned for its murderous blood feuds. Svans, a very distinctive ethnic group related to Georgians, lived in unusual houses used as dwellings and defense posts against the invaders who plagued the region. As a result, around 175 “koshkebi,” most originally built between the 9th and 13th centuries, survive here today. Not so long ago, Svaneti was still pretty well off the beaten track. Still, recent tourism development has brought ski resorts, flights from Tbilisi, and paved road from Zugdidi – significant parts are still in rough condition.

Parking location – Mestia: 43.043205N 42.723943E