A nice walk on the old road connecting Ushguli in Upper Svaneti and Mele in Lower Svaneti.
Nice walk on an old road connecting Ushguli in Upper Svaneti and Mele village in Lower Svaneti. I wouldn´t rate it among the most amazing treks in Svaneti due to the fact that this trip just follows a dirt track all the time, but nature around is still beautiful and there are several interesting sights such as Zagar pass or abandoned settlements in Koruldashi valley.
Trek can be also combined with Ushguli - Chvelpi trek to make a loop around Svaneti or undertaken to approach starting point of the difficult trek from Svaneti to Racha.
Duration: 2 days
If you have time, it's recommended to spend one more day on a daytrip into Zeskho valley.
The first day is harder as you need to climb over 500m into Zagar pass, second day is easier. Trek is rated as moderate due to the considerable distance (37km)
A tent is not necessary as there is a small guesthouse in Tsana village.
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How to get to Ushguli:
Minivans to Ushguli depart daily in the morning from the Seti square. They wait until they are full, usual price for a ride is 30 GEL
If you prefer walking, very popular is the 4-day . Ushguli is also accesible from Lower Svaneti via Latpari pass or Zagar pass.
How to leave Mele:
I heard that there is a daily marshrutka to Lentekhi/Kutaisi in the morning. But can't confirm it personally as we hired a taxi to Lentekhi at hotel/restaurant in Mele. Price was 120 GEL for 6 people. http://www.caucasus-trekking.com/Images/Treks/Zagar/02_LookBack.jpg
Another option is, as usual, to keep walking by the road and hitchhike, but traffic for first few hours will be very low.
Description of the route
Day 1: Ushguli - Tsana 6 hours
Leave Ushguli by jeep track heading to the east. Path slowly, but steadily ascends and after some 2 hours should bring you to the Zagar pass. From here you have a great view on main Caucasus ridge dominated by peaks Ailama and Tsurungali.
Start descent into the valley, for the first hour its quite steep. All the time you are walking on the jeep road but the traffic here is minimal (usually just a couple of cars daily) so its not a big problem.
Road in the valley is running close to the river but you will not see it too often as most of the time you will be surrounded by over 2-meters high hogweeds - Koruldashi valley is quite overgrown. But you will see numerous abandoned houses. among them the ruins of Koruldashi Arsenic factory at the glacier foothills, which pollutes whole region. For this reason bring sufficient supply of water and don't drink from the streams.
After some 6 hours of walking you will eventually see an almost abandoned village at the right bank of the river - Tsana. Its quite hard to miss due to postsign advertising local “hotel” (don´t be afraid, its just an old house with few rooms to rent).
Tsana is a really nice place to spend a night, it has really special atmosphere as most of the houses are abandoned (here is a blog about the time we spent there).
You can either camp close to the village, sleep in the hotel or maybe you will be lucky and locals will offer you to spend a night in one of the abandoned houses. In a village you can found safe spring of water. It is also possible to use Tsana as a base and next day make a side trip to the Zeskho valley which has nice "end of the world" feeling.http://www.caucasus-trekking.com/Images/Treks/Zagar/08_Tsana.jpg
Day 2: Tsana - Mele 6 hours
This day is pretty straighforward, just continue walking on the jeep road. After some 30 minutes of descend you will come to the turn-off into Zeskho valley, but you will need to stay on the main road. Little further there is a signpost showing direction to Lentekhi (75km). Luckily you will not have to walk that far.
Next few hours of walk are spent in a relative wilderness, you will often walk on a road carved in a wall of rock with a river roaring below you. Terrain then becomes a little more flat, you will pass through several abandoned villages and get a good view of beautiful mountain range to the south dominated by Lelaashkha mountain. From here it is just a short walk to Mele, first inhabited village on the road.http://www.caucasus-trekking.com/Images/Treks/Zagar/12_LowerSvaneti.jpg