The Caucasus is a large mountain range stretching between the Black and the Caspian seas that largely defines the climate, character, and geopolitics of the region.
The Caucasus is abundant with rivers, such as the Bziphi, Kodori, Enguri, Rioni, and Tergi, belonging to the Black, Caspian, and Azov sea basins. Glacial, karst, tectonic, volcanic, and other types of lakes lie along the range with dazzling glaciers and diverse landscapes. The Caucasus is an ideal destination for nature and adventure lovers.
The highest peak in Georgia, 5,203 meters above sea level, is Shkhara, in Zemo (Upper) Svaneti Region. It attracts professional mountaineers, as there are no medium or easy routes. In 1888, Swiss mountaineers Ulrich Almer and Christian Roth, and British mountaineer John Cockin were the first ones to climb it from the side of the North Caucasus. Shkhara translates as “nine” in Svan, referring to the number of peaks on the ridge.
Tetnuldi peak is one of the main reasons to visit Svaneti. Built from ancient crystalline rocks, 4,852 meters high, Tetnuldi peak frequently hosts climbers and winter sports enthusiasts. The Tetnuldi ski resort, the second largest mountain resort after Gudauri, opened in 2016.
Ushba is a fascinating two-headed peak. The southern peak is 4,710 meters and the northern peak is 10 meters lower. As the Svan legend goes, Ushba and Tetnuldi were lovers from poor and rich backgrounds, respectively. Their parents never approved of their love. Discouraged by their dissent, Tetnuldi dressed in a white wedding dress, begging God: “Since we are not meant to be together, turn us into stone so that no one can stop us from looking at each other.” They were then turned into peaks to marvel at each other for centuries to come.
The Khokhi ridge is the northern lateral ridge of the Caucasus and has several peaks. Kazbegi (Mkinvartsveri) – the highest peak - has been a source of artistic inspiration for many poets and artists. The Khokhi ridge connects to the main ridge of the Caucasus through the Ardoni and Tergi watersheds in the Truso valley. Most of the valleys in this location are hard to reach, making it even more attractive for alpinists. The ridge is distinguished by the abundance of glaciers like the Gergeti, Devdoraki, Abano, Mna, Chata, and Suatisi.
The 5,054-meter-high Kazbegi Mountain is extremely popular among alpinists and hiking lovers. The peak, surrounded by subalpine meadows and glaciers, has great cultural significance. As the old Georgian legend goes, Amirani, a hero of a Georgian epic, resembling the Classical Prometheus, is punished by God for his disobedience and chained in a cave on Kazbegi. A fierce eagle feeds on him day in and day out, while his faithful dog tries to loosen his chains by constantly licking them. At the end of the day, all the attempts of helping Amirani are in vain as the blacksmiths sent by God reinforced the chains.
According to the legend, once in seven years, the cave opens up to catch a glimpse of the hero. Presumably, the cave is Bethlehem cave, on the steep side of Kazbegi Mountain, which turned into a monastic cell. It is an immovable cultural monument of national significance, and was an inspiration for Ilia Chavchavadze when he wrote "Gandegili".
Kazbegi welcomes hiking lovers from the second half of summer to the end of September. Whether it is winter or summer, hire a certified guide to accompany you due to many deep ice cracks on the way.
A part of the Pirikita Ridge, covered with glaciers, Mount Tebulo (Tebulosmta) stands guard over Tusheti. The 4,498-meter peak is one of the highest points of the Eastern Caucasus. However, this is not the only reason you should visit Tusheti. This part of Georgia is surrounded by high mountains, peaks, and valleys with multiple rivers and waterfalls.
Along with the greatness of Mount Tebulo, Tusheti’s rich culture and traditions will attract you. It is isolated for most of the year due to its geographical location, and so the local community developed its distinctive character, lifestyle, traditions, and folklore. If you are brave enough to traverse the twisted roads and want unforgettable memories, Tusheti is waiting for you!
You may think, it’s just the northern part of the country that boasts breathtaking mountains, but don’t discount the south! The volcanic-originated meridian ridge of Samsari is a must-see. Its highest peak, Didi Abuli, is 3,301 meters tall. From that point, explore the entire Samtskhe-Javakheti Region. If you can hike there during springtime, you'll also pass through beautiful wildflower fields and lakes that astonish visitors in all seasons, like Levani’s Lake, Lake Abuli, Lamazi Lake, and Mrude Lake. The north of the ridge opens up to a view of Lake Tabatskuri.
We could fill a book describing the beauty and grace of Lahili, Khvamli Mountain, the colorful mountains of Mravaltskaro, Racha-Lechkhumi, or Imereti.
However, as the saying goes, “a picture is worth thousands of words.”
Brace yourself for the breathtaking views from lush forests and glacier-clad mountains. Wild nature blends harmoniously with ancient castles, towers, churches, and monasteries. See it all with your own eyes.
The adventure is just around the corner. Are you ready?