beautiful and wild
new experiences away from the crowds
WINTER PACKAGE TOURS IN SVANETI, GEORGIA
All types of skiing tours in Svaneti: ski tours, freeride, alpine skiing and snowshoeing in the mountains of the Great Caucasus.
The winter getaway with a history
Welcome to Svaneti!
Svaneti is a heaven for skiers who don’t like crowds. A small region of Georgia in the high mountains of the Great Caucasus Range, Svaneti is the perfect winter getaway for mountain lovers. The region is isolated from the rest of the world by snowy peaks of 3000 — 5000 meters high forming the natural boundary between Asia and Europe. As a result, Svaneti has kept its distinct culture and traditional way of life and is a sanctuary of untouched landscape, awesome medieval art, architecture and folklore, included in UNESCO’s list of world heritage.
Mestia, the capital of Svaneti, is a very picturesque old town, which is difficult to reach even today, especially in the winter months. That is why the beautiful and rough mountains around Mestia long remained undiscovered by skiers. However, the difficulties of the long journey pay off when you set your eyes on the magnificent summits of Ushba, Tetnuldi and Shkhara, and the deep valleys adorned with solemn Svan towers.
Recently the Georgian government invested in building two modern ski resorts outside Mestia, which boosted Svaneti’s tourist potential. Mestia has become an ideal base for alpine skiing, with small and cosy family-run hotels, no queues at the ski lifts and a fantastic historic setting.
At the same time, the smaller and more remote villages of Svaneti provide excellent ski-tour and back-country opportunities with very little competition for fresh snow. Trained local guides who know the area like the back of their hand are sure to find the best routes and untouched powder.
The last thing that needs to be added is that Svaneti is a safe, affordable and tourist-friendly destination. Delicious local food and wines, authentic streets with old houses and towers, excellent museums with world-class culture heritage. A completely unique experience in a medieval legend, beautiful and wild.
Food & drink
Food unfailingly leads the ratings in tourist reviews about the things they most enjoyed in Georgia. Georgian cuisine is very diverse. Meat dishes are extremely varied, with all kinds of meat on the menu: beef, mutton, pork and veal. Meat is grilled with vegetables, boiled in thick spicy broths, fried and roasted with potatoes and onions, minced and enjoyed in pies with local herbs. The most popular national dish (after the superb grills, of course) is khinkali: large meat dumpings with hot bouillon inside. Fish is also on the menu in most restaurants. However, vegetarians will far from starve!
Dairy products, especially many varieties of white home-made cheese, are extremely popular. Cheese in corn and millet fried cakes, cottage cheese with mint and Georgia’s most popular vegetarian dish, khachapuri: cheese pie baked in wood stoves, using various types of dough. Beans, potatoes, tomatoes, egg-plants, green herbs, walnuts and their combinations with dough, cheese and meat make up delicious and enjoyable meals.
When you are in Svaneti, the specifically local dishes to try are kubdari (pie with minced meat baked in a wood stove) and petviani (millet khachapuri). There is also a delicious local spice that you can try and even take home as a souvenir: Svan salt, made with garlic and herbs using traditional family recepies.
There are several beer breweries in Georgia, but the two truly national drinks are wine and chacha (extremely pure, aromatic and strong grape vodka, originally produced as a by-product of wine-making).
The tradition of wine-making is linked inseparably to Georgian history, culture and identity and dates back to Neolithic times. The vine is one of the key symbols in Georgia’s art and folklore. Archaeologists confirm that clay vessels (kvevri) with the remains of grape bones from cultivated grapes found in Georgia are dated around 6000 BC. The same fermentation method (mashed grapes are kept in large clay kvevri and buried in the ground until the wine ripens) is still used in Georgia to produce wine today. It is included in UNESCO’s World Heritage list as the oldest existing wine-making technique. At least 500 grape varieties originally come from Georgia, two thirds of the produce are red wines.
The traditional Georgian dinner table is regulated by an ancient system of pronouncing and drinking toasts dedicated to God, people, events and values that make up the most important elements of Georgian identity.
After skiing and bad weather options
Besides going to the bar to share skiing impressions with friends over a glass of Georgian wine, there are several great places to visit in Mestia. Even if you are not a museum fan, you will definitely enjoy a tour to these historic places. If the weather is not good enough for skiing, use the chance to get an insight into Svaneti’s amazing culture-heritage, hidden away from the rest of the world for centuries. Sites to visit:
1. Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography treasures magnificent pieces of medieval Svaneti art. You would not expect this, but it is one of the best local ethnographic museums in Europe, and its integration into the environment is unique. About 40 minutes is enough to tour the museum, guided tours are also available. The museum is located within 5 minutes from the cental square.
2. The Museum of Alpinism or The House-Museum of the legendary Soviet alpinist Mikhail Khergiani, of Svaneti origin. This museum was lovingly created by Mikhail’s friends as a memorial to bravery and daring, true friendship and an unbendable spirit of adventure and achievement.
3. Margiani machubi and Ratiani museum both offer an insight into the authentic medieval Svan Manor, complete with traditional interior furnishing and defense tower which you can climb to get a bird’s eye view of Mestia.
Located on the southern slopes of the Great Caucasus, Georgia is a small country bordering Russia in the north along the mountain chain, Turkey and Armenia in the south, Azerbaijan in the east and the Black Sea in the west. Georgia’s population is currently about 4 million people, most are engaged in farming and tourism. Today Georgia is a modernized, transparent, rapidly developing country which has set tourism as its top priority. Due to highly successful government measures against crime and corruption Georgia is exceptionally safe and visitor-friendly.
Amazing diversity and beauty of landscape, a very rich and ancient culture, legendary Georgian cuisine, but above all — the heartwarming hospitality of the Georgians make the country an ideal destination for all-year-round tourism. Svaneti along with the Black sea coast resorts is seen as the most attractive tourist region in Georgia.
Lodgings in Mestia are mostly small family-run guest houses which provide great visitor care and excellent home-made meals. Standards vary, but we make a point of providing unsurpassed quality to cost ratio with newly built, well-located hotel-class accommodation. All rooms are fitted with bathrooms and heating, there is free wi-fi and the town’s infrastructure is within 5-10 minutes’ walking distance. You will find detailed descriptions in the tour packages.
The town hall, public services hall, police station, hospital and offices of Liberty Bank and Bank of Georgia are all located near the central square. The town also has several pharmacies and ATMs, 2 bigger chain supermarkets and smaller family-run shops with all the daily necessities, numerous restaurants and cafes. There is a domestic airport and shuttle bus station connecting Mestia to Tbilisi, Zugdidi, Kutaisi and Batumi. However, there is no public transport in Svaneti. Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography and the ski lift to Resort Hatsvali are also close to central Mestia.
Currency, prices & payments
Currency: the Georgian Lari (GEL).
Prices: prices are relatively low compared to America and Europe. A hearty local meal costs between 10 and 15 EUR, drinks are also very inexpensive.
Payments: Some shops and restaurants accept credit cards, but not all. Ski rentals and smaller family-run minimarkets will only accept cash in GEL. All in all, it is good to have some small money in GEL.
There are several banks, exchange points and 24/7 ATMs in Mestia.
Internet and mobile connection
You will find free wi-fi in hotels and most restaurants.
Mobile coverage is very good in Mestia and in the villages, but in the mountain there is often no signal.
Local SIM-cards can be bought in Mestia (you will need your passport).
Mestia Police Station is in the central square:
1 Seti Square, near the central park and town hall.
Mestia Hospital is also located in the centre, at 13 Ilia Gabliani Street (emergency 24/7 service at the back of the building).
Government Rescue Teams are staffed with experienced, well-trained personnel who hold international certificates and have saved lives of hundreds of skiers and alpinists.
Emergency Services Hotline: dial 112
All types of pistes and superb freeride
Resort Tetnuldi is a French-Georgian project, designed to be a family resort with all types of pistes, as well as a great freeride spot. It is located in 15 km away from the centre of Mestia, on the northern, western and south-western slopes of Mt. Tetnuldi ( 4869 m). The skiing zone is from 1600 to 3200 m above sea level. Total length of pistes: 7 km, all levels.
The best season is from January through April.
1. Closed 6-chair POMA. Capacity: 3200 passengers per hour. Length: 2290 m, 1480 m.
2. Open 4- chair POMA continuing the 6-chair line up to 3200 m (700 m).
3. Open 4- chair POMA in the direction of Zhabeshi (1000 m).
Work hours: 10.00 – 16.00.
Infrastructure: a cafe and ski-rental at the lower ski-lift station
Resort Hatsvali is smaller, located just above Mestia on the slopes of Zuruldi (2380 m), with the lower ski lifts starting 500 m away from central Mestia. The best season is January through March. Even though the resort is small, it has a full range of pistes, from beginners to experts, and offers fun forest freeride couloirs for bad weather.
1. Lower lift Mestia – Hatsvali: 6-chair open Doppelmayr (a little uphill along the road behind the Museum of History and Ethnography). Length: 1400 m, time of ascent: 5 minutes. Lower station altitude: 1428 meters, upper station altitude: 1898 meters.
2. Upper lift Hatsvali – Zuruldi: 4-chair open Leitner. Length: 1400 meters, time of ascent: 13-15 minutes. Lower station altitude: 1800 meters, upper station altitude: 2340 meters.
3. 2 draglifts: to the green and the red pistes.
Work hours: Mestia – Hatsvali: 10:00 – 16:30 (weekdays), 10:00 – 17:30 (weekends). Hatsvali – Zuruldi: closes 30 minutes earlier. Occasionally, at weekends the pistes are illuminated for night skiing.
Infrastructure: Hatsvali: a ski-rental booth, a small hotel, a cafe and a public toilet. Zuruldi: panoramic restaurant Zuruldi with a fantastic view of Mt Ushba and the Great Caucasus Range.
We make a point of working with vaccinated personnel for your safety