Thursday, October 18th 2018

Hike to Koruldi lakes & Mt. Ushba in Svaneti, Georgia

After one day of rest and some small walks on the outskirts of Mestia it was time for a a big one. Time to hike to Koruldi lakes at the foot of Ushba mountain. Everybody calls it the Cross hike because first you have to climb through woods up to the cross which stands on Mount Tshkhakezagari. The latter hangs above Mestia on the North and you cannot miss the cross no matter where you are in Mestia.

There two points where you can start the hike, and luckily one of them was close to our guest house. Having packed our camera, food & water we set off for the climb. We learnt later from other hikers that the other route is longer, which makes ours steeper. The way to the cross goes mostly through woods which helps a lot as the path is in shade. Some small hollows were actually a bit chilly after the night.

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The views were getting more amazing with each step. It took us around 2 hours to reach the top where the cross stands. It was exactly as Trekking Svaneti website says. One more hour and we will reach the lakes.

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So we were at the top, time for a break. Well deserved food, water and some chocolate to boost our energy. The views were gorgeous. We could already see the legendary peak of Ushba.

Chichik – we got a picture of Mara and the snowy mount Ushba.

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Time to continue. Everybody including Trekking Svaneti website says that it is only one our from the cross to the lakes. We were happy that the hardest part was completed and expected a light walk to the lakes. But the way was leading us higher and higher. It was not too difficult but not easy either. One great thing about it was that the views were getting even better.

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Mara was quite tired, a bit complaining but continued walking up with some occasional breaks. Every time we though that the end would be on the top of the next hill. Many times we were disappointed as another hill rose after the preceding one.

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Now we could see even more snowy peaks and it seemed that we were higher than some of them. Mountains are all around us: the Ushba-Chatini massif is seen straight ahead, the rocky slopes of Mt. Dalakora and the Mestiachala River valley are viewed to the right; Mt. Banguriani is seen to the East and still further is the snowy cone of Mt. Tetnuldi; the Svaneti Ridge is seen to the South.

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When we reached the lakes we were quite disappointed. The lakes were small, not crystal green or blue at all. One of them was blood red. We wondered whether that was blood, chemicals or something else. It was not too hot up here. But i still looked forward to dip my body in clear ice cold water.  To my regret that was not possible.

mountain ushba koruldi lakes svaneti

As they sing: Sad but true. Nevertheless we still had all the gorgeous views to enjoy and absorb the immense beauty of the landscape. Not often we could spend time surrounded by snow clad mountains. We chose a place for break-lunch-nap and finished our provisions with one of the best “travel TV channels” on.

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The sun was strong but the breeze was even chilly sometimes. The elements of the nature were fighting with each other – cold versus hot. For us it created almost ideal conditions, not too hot and not too cold. I even managed to fall asleep and slept quite deeply for about half an hour.

Afternoon nap gave us energy to explore the area around the lakes. There were people who came by car for a picnic. They were eating and drinking, kids were running around. Two hikers came from somewhere up with huge backpack and hiking poles. People were getting suntan.

I remembered that magic mushrooms grow on cow dung when I saw these beauties. Of course, we decided not eat them due to lack of precise information about the species of mushrooms.

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Soon enough we decided to start our way back. We took the same road just the opposite direction. First part was to reach the cross. It took us two hours instead of one to hike from the cross to the lakes. I expected that we would make it back to the cross within 1,5 hours. Walking down was easier and faster. We met a couple of hikers who we walking to the lakes. They were quite tired after reaching the cross. “Tell me about it” I thought. We shared our disappointment about the lakes, but they did not change their mind to reach them despite the difficulty and the length of the hike.

Our last stop before the cross was a tiny settlement on the hill which we passed on the way up. Several people live here from June till October with cows & pigs. They spend their days working in the garden and making cheese. They told us that all the mountains around are still covered in snow at the end of May. Sometimes even in June. They gave refreshing cold water and we continued our descending.

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Last glance at the shiny peaks and we slid down the woody path leading us back to Mestia. It was not easy to walk as our legs were pretty tired. The hike proved to be longer and more demanding than i expected. Contradictory to the Trekking Svaneti website and other people’s opinion it took us about 8 hours rather than 6. And that is not counting time for rest at the lakes, 4 hours from Mestia to the lakes, and 4 hours back.

By the time we got home we were dead, yes living dead. Showers, a bit of watermelon and delicious dinner cooked by a mother of the owner of the guest house. husband poured us some shots of local apple vodka. The old couple was very warm and nice. They talked with us using their minimal Russian. It was an excellent day. I was falling into pleasant tipsiness recollecting gorgeous views of the mountains and valleys. and tiredness started slowly falling asleep.

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9 Comments on “Hike to Koruldi lakes & Mt. Ushba in Svaneti, Georgia”

  1. Hey it looks like that you had a very unique day like everyday of your trip. Continue enjoying guys:)

    1. Thank you, Yalin! We are doing our best!

  2. Yes, that day I really would have loved to walk by your side.

    1. Thank you, Rolf! It is really great area! I will definitely come back for proper hiking with a tent, etc. Sunrises and sunsets must be gorgeous there.

  3. […] The biggest town in Svaneti is Mestia and it serves as a base and a starting point for hikes and treks around […]

  4. Hi! I was thinking about doing some hiking in Svaneti and was wondering if you could give me some tips before I go. (Nobody I know has ever been to Georgia). If so, I would love it if you could email me (jeffmaneval@comcast.net) and answer a few questions. Basically, should I bring a tent, are there more than enough places to stay in the villages (like guest houses or whatnot) and if it’s possible to get around without a guide. Thanks so much!

    Jeff

    1. Hi Jeff, you will definitely love the place. I will answer here so that other people can see the info as well. Hope you don’t mind.
      Many people come with tents and hike, not staying in homestays, so you can do that as well. You will also need to carry your food and water (depends when u go, but in August there was no much water there, thought there are some glaciers and we drank water from them). There are plenty of home stays everywhere, you can pay for stay or stay + food. If you have yr tent you can sleep up in the mountains or close to a village, if there are not places. Just beware of bad weather. If it rains there, it really rains. I met people who spend a week sitting and waiting to go hiking, but could not because of rain. I heard of people hiking without guides, and I plan to do this in the future. But I also heard about people getting lost. So you need a good map with marked paths. You can see paths of course, but u need which one to take. In your shoes I would just do some research about distances, get a good map and maybe find some partners to hike.
      let me know if you have any more questions.

  5. Hello,

    I am currently working on a website focused on trekking in Goergia – I finished several trails, but not this one so I would like to ask – could I borrow few photos from here (without people) ? Of course with reference to original blog – my site will be for free, for me its just a hobby

    Best regards, Jozef

    1. Hi Josef,
      Yes, you can use pics for your blog. send me a link to your blog, i am curious.
      Regards,
      Alexey

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