I had read that Georgia’s key highlight included the region of Mestia, however I had skimmed over it thinking it was hard to get to, and not exactly on route.
Not too sure how I then found myself on a 7 hour ride in a Mashuktra (small, old local buses that cost about £0.30) towards Mestia.
In Georgia one quickly learns how everything happens at a very. slow. pace. So to have to wait in a Mashuktra for 1 hour before it started moving (the couple already inside had waited 4 – we were lucky) was frustrating, especially when the driver said he wouldn’t budge until every seat was taken up. *sigh*
At long last we started moving in a spiral up the mountains. The views were breathtaking – only interrupted when a rock fell onto the roof of the bus with an almighty bang – with turquoise lakes and reservoirs surrounded by gigantic snowcapped mountains.
We were quite relieved to reach solid ground (after 7 hours in a slow turning bus, and a rock-shock), and very impressed with Mestia, a hiker’s paradise
with a feeling of being in a ski town.
We turned into the first guest house we found, Guesthouse Seti, which happened to be wonderful, run by a lovely woman called Nasi and her family who made you feel right at home.
There are plenty of hikes and treks to do in Mestia, lasting anywhere between a day and a week. We started off slow, and decided to hike to the Koruldi Lakes, a 8Km hike uphill. How hard could it be?
Holy moly. Until this day, I had never encountered such physical endurance. I had imagined uphill to be a pleasant winding path, with a slight slope. I had not imagined a 70 degree slope the entire way through. 5 minutes in I was breathless, cramps in stomach and drowning my bottle of water. Great. 7.9Km left to go.
As we took our 7th break in 10 minutes, another struggling couple walked past us, the girl using hiking poles to drag her along. Unfortunately I had prioritised my hair straighteners over hiking poles, so I resumed to crawl up.
After miles of shouting and maybe even a tantrum or two (poor Chris) we finally reached the holy grail of crosses at the top. Once I caught my breath back, I was able to appreciate what we’d come here for: the views.
It was pretty spectacular, and even though I couldn’t feel my legs for about 2 days, I guess I would recommend it for the feeling of accomplishment and the wonderful feeling to look down at the bitch of the mountain climbed!
The walk down was a relief for everyone involved (no screaming or death threats), and we met a lovely Russian girl who lived in Calcutta and entertained us with her experiences abroad (I love meeting people when travelling, everyone seems to have achieved three life’s worths of experiences).
Of course we ended up going the wrong way down, which meant arriving in a whole different village, but luckily a kind local was passing by and offered us a lift on the back of his truck.
The night ended with painkillers, being stung by a wasp, and watching lion-like dogs walking around restaurants. Oh, and also signing up to go – the next day – on a 4 day trek through the mountains.