Svaneti, Georgia always has been considered a difficult terrain. This is a land of high mountains with snow-capped peaks, hairpinned roads, waterfalls and amazing clear air. Even now, in our age of asphalt roads and high-speed cars, only one road leads there.
Of course, you can rent a car, hire a taxi or even try to buy a ticket for a small plane (there are flights both from Tbilisi and Kutaisi). But the most traditional and budget way for Georgia is a minibus (or “marshrutka” as the locals call it in Russian).
The first part of the trip: Kutaisi bus station – the square in front of the railway station in Zugdidi. This part of the road is quite easy and fast. After that you need to transfer to a minibus Zugdidi – Mestia. Be prepared to wait up to one hour for a minibus to collect all the passengers – in Georgia they always try to sell all the seats.
Soon after you leave Zugdidi the mountains begin. Take a chance to stop at the stunning view of Inguri hydroelectric power plant. Further the road to Mestia is rising higher and higher in the mountains. And finally you can see numerous residential buildings and famous Svan towers. The central part of Mestia is located at an altitude of about 1500 meters, but many households are located much higher.
On the main street and in numerous cafes you can meet guests from all over the world. Foreign speech is heard here much more often than Georgian. All kinds of traveler come here: climbers, rafting enthusiasts, skiers, lovers of history and culture. Almost every house in Mestia is offered for rent. Prices and the quality of services are quite diverse.
What to do in Mestia? The city itself doesn’t have much much of entertainment. Basically all the tourists rent jeeps and go to the mountains. But a couple of places here still should not be missed. Visit Museum of History and Ethnography. The museum is small but it offers a very rich collection of artifacts, icons and handwritten books.
Take a chance to climb one of the Svan towers. For this you have to find
Margiani House Museum. Here you can get acquainted with the life of the Svan family, see, touch and photograph authentic household items, inspect
typical for past centuries house and climb the Svan tower.