Mountain holidays in the South Caucasus offer incomparably deep emotions, a feeling of peace and full isolation from the urban hustle and bustle. So, if you love to relax and meditate in the lap of majestic nature and conquer mountain peaks, then the South Caucasus is probably the ideal destination for you.
Most of the territories of this region are covered with magnetic mountain peaks and adorable alpine meadows. And if you have never been here before, it’s time to discover completely new territories and conquer new peaks. In this blog post, I’ll tell you which mountain regions of the South Caucasus are worthy of your attention.
We will start with a trip to Georgia. The mountain peaks of this country inspire locals and foreign visitors alike with their unparalleled beauty and majesty. One of the most famous mountain regions is Svaneti, which is located on the southern slopes of the Caucasus Mountain range. Svaneti is a region of magnificent mountains, powerful waterfalls, gorges, and glaciers.
Once in Svaneti be sure to visit its center, Mestia town, located at an altitude of 4,920 feet (1,500 meters) above sea level. In recent years, it has been completely renovated, built up with hotels, guest houses, and roads. It is in Mestia where many treks to mountains, waterfalls and lakes start. Due to its proximity to the highest mountain peaks of Georgia (Ushba (15,452 feet / 4,710 meters) and Shkhara (16,627 feet / 5,068 meters)) Mestia is also considered the center of mountaineering. In winter the town turns into the well-equipped ski resort.
It’s recommend to travel around the whole Mestia municipality and visiting the unique Svan community, Ushguli, which consists of four small villages. The height of this community is 7,218 feet (2,200 meters) above sea level, making it it the highest settlement in Europe. The center of Ushguli, Chazhazhi village, is famous for its ancient Svan towers included in UNESCO’s World Heritage list.
You can get to Mestia from Tbilisi (the capital of Georgia) either by taxi or by a mini-bus which departs from the station near metro Didube. You can also take a train or a small plane which departs from the airport of Tbilisi Natakhtari.
Khevsureti is another no less amazing mountain region of Georgia, located in the northeastern part of the country. So, what awaits you here? in Khevsureti, you will be able to conquer the mountains, ride horses, walk along the famous trekking route Shatili-Mutso, and explore the ancient towers and sanctuaries. But be warned that Khevsureti is the least populated and developed region of Georgia and there aren’t many hotels and guesthouses. To get there, you will need to drive through a rather steep mountain pass that’s open only from June to October.
Of great interest for tourist is the historic highland village Shatili, famous for its unique fortification architecture. It is an ancient village fortress nestled on the banks of the Argun River at an altitude of 4,593 feet (1,400 meters) above sea level.
Let’s move on the the next country and talk about travel in Armenia, the other no less beautiful mountain country of the South Caucasus. In the northeast of Armenia, there is Tavush province, which extends to the outer row of the Caucasus Mountains. The territory is mainly mountainous. Rocky hillsides are covered with a green carpet of alpine meadows. Tavush is sometimes referred to as a small Armenian Switzerland.
The province is also known for its natural and historical monuments: you can admire the rich nature of Dilijan National Park and Ijevan arboretum, as well as visit the monastery complexes, fortress, khachkars, etc. The mild, pure and rich in oxygen air of the region is perfect for relaxing and rejuvenating your spirit. Paying special attention to the resort towns of Ijevan (center of the region and a popular health resort) and Dilijan (alpine resort known far beyond the borders of Armenia).
In the northeast of Armenia, there is Lori province, a region characterized by vast mountain ranges, stepped slopes, deep canyons, rivers, and lakes. The area is no less interesting from a historical point of view as Lori was once the hereditary estate of the Armenian princely Zakaryan dynasty.
In this fascinating region, you will be able to explore marvelous examples of Byzantine architecture, the monasteries of Sanahin and Haghpat, which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Of a great interest is also the Pushkin Pass, through which in 1828 passed the most famous and beloved Russian poet and writer Alexander Pushkin. In Lori, you can stay in Vanadzor, which is the administrative center of the region and the third-largest city of Armenia.