Winter hiking trails in Georgia, Caucasus
Georgia has reached the moment when travelers are willing to enjoy its mesmerizing winter nature too. But it is not easy to figure out a nice winter route as there is not much information available online. Also, to tell the truth, fewer people choose to hike in this season. And you cannot blame them - it is the period of highly unpredictable weather and its consequential risks connected.
During the wintertime, in the mountains of Georgia, snow falls up to ten meters in some areas. Thus, plenty of easy-to-reach and simple trails become very difficult and impossible to hike. Trails where you usually spend 2-3 hours on a certain part of the way in summer, can take all day in winter. Or even more. Taking into account all these factors, it is necessary to rely on your hiking experience and choose the trail accordingly. Or join organized group tours in Borjomi and enjoy full spectrum of winter adventures.
Borjomi-Kharagauli national park
Here is great news! Since 2014 new routes have been opened in the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park - one and two-day hiking trails. So, now adventurers who are travelling there during this time of the year can visit Borjomi in winter and go to a wonderful trail of the snow-covered forest with picturesque panoramic views. The trails are well marked, safe and not too demanding.
1-Day Snowshoe Trail
Distance - 6 km, 4 hours, average
The one-day snowshoe trail starts at the Atskuri Ranger station and goes 6 km further in the forest to Panorama viewpoint. You return the same way, or the trail can be shortened if one desires.
Day 1: Atskuri guard station - Panoramic view - Atskuri guard station. 12 km. On average 6 hours.
2-Day Snowshoe Trail
The 2-day snowshoe trail starts at the entrance to Likani guard station (900 m above sea level) and ends at the same place through overnight stay in Chitakhevi shelter (1900). The first day of the trail is 8 km. You can make a fire in the wood-stove. Note that there is no water in winter due to the frost, so you will need to melt the snow.
On the second day, the trail goes through panoramic views, leading to coniferous forest and goes down to the village of Likani. Distance - 7.5 km.
Day 1: Likani guard station - Chitakhevi shelter. 8 km. Average 6-7 hours.
Day 2: Chitakhevi shelter - Likani guard station. 7.5 km. 5-6 hours on average.
What to Know
In winter everything is unusual and new. Even thick fog, combined with snow underfoot and absolute silence, can be the strongest impression, due to the loss of a sense of distance and time. And this impression might not always be positive. So keep in mind:
Daylight is considerably shorter than in summer and hike should start early in the morning to get back before dark.
Have a flashlight for any case and take extra clothes if you stay for a night, as well as a warm sleeping bag.
Drink enough water to stay hydrated, but do not keep the bottle inside the pockets of the backpack, it can freeze, or get unpleasantly cold.
Considering the snowy conditions you might need to hike with snowshoes. They can be rented in Borjomi-Kharagauli administration office during the registration at the entrance of the park.
If it is your first winter hike at all, better choose 1-day trail to get more familiar with the specifics of winter hiking and enjoy thrilling nature. But without experience, it is highly not advisable to hike alone without any guidance, especially on 2-day trail in Borjomi, or any other unmarked trails. In case of interest, both trails can be covered on the same trip with Camp Caucasus safely, you can find more details about the Borjomi winter hiking tour here.
How to Get There
By car the distance from Tbilisi to Borjomi - 160 km, time on the way - 2 hours.
By public transport from Tbilisi: the Didube bus station by minibus - 2,5 hours, or from the Central Railway station by train - 4-5 hours.
During the winter hike, you will have access to the beauty familiar to ordinary people only in pictures and movies. And you, unlike them, not only will see but also will feel the harsh beauty of winter in the mountains. So, do not miss this amazing opportunity!