A window for the Caucasus. Autumn trekking in Svaneti.

Swaneti is a mountainous region in Georgia, in the heart of Great Caucasus Range, between Abkhazia and Racha. A region of Svans, Georgian highlanders, who speak their own, non - written language, Svanuri, whis is unintelligible for other Georgians. Svaneti and Svans are shrouded in legends and myths. Georgians from Tbilisi warned us, that they are cruel, revengeful louts, but on the other side - famous from their hospitality. Well... The best way to check it is simply to go there. The 5-hour journey from Zugdidi on a poor quality mountainous road by marshrutka is not very comfotable, but I can assure you, that you will not regret it! In the picture: Mestia from the way to TV tower vantage point. You can see stone tower-houses, mostly built in the 9th to 12th centuries. Mestia is the capital of Upper Svaneti with about 15 thousand citizens.

Photos: Olga Pliszczyńska, Paulina Świetlicka.

At the top of stone tower
On the first foreground Dato - the owner of tower-house and mountain guide. His family rent rooms in the center of town. Mestia, according to locals, is the real touristic resort.

The colours of Caucasus
Autumn is the best time to visit Svaneti. The sun is shining, the wind is blowing, temperature about 20 degrees. And the omnipresent mountains... In the background - Ushba, hiding in the clouds.

Local name for Ushba, a symbol of Mestia and one of the most distinctive and difficult peak of Great Caucasus. On the mountain, according to locals, there were withches' sabbaths.

The land of contrasts
...at least color contrasts.

On the way to Chalaadi Glacier
Hiking from Mestia to Chalaadi Glacier is very nice and quite easy with interesting points, like for example crossing the bridge over the precipice.

The Glacier. In the background - Mount Chatini. Chatini's north face, is considered the most difficult climb in the Caucasus.

In the mouth of the glacier
Again Chalaadi, this time from the inside. Chalaadi is also one of the sources of river, which flows through Mestia.

One more time about the colours
This time yellows, oranges and greens and the Caucasus.

Shadow play
From many points near Mestia you can see different parts of Caucasus and observe the shadows of clouds on the slopes.

The inside of marshrutka, not all are like this. To travel in this kind of car is the real adventure.

Olga Pliszczyńska