Ushguli is a community of five villages located at the head of the Enguri gorge in Svaneti, Georgia.
Ushguli is one of the highest continuously inhabited settlements in Europe. Compared to somewhat more developed towns like Mestia, Ushguli is not in an accessible location, which has preserved many of the villages' medieval characteristics, including unique defensive tower houses called Svan towers. Because of their preservation and traditional architecture, Ushguli, Mestia, and the surrounding area was recognized as the Upper Svaneti UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
I had a chance to visit Ushguli for a few hour visit back in September 2023, during which I made some amazing drone photography (I was so inspired that order photo prints for our office walls in Tbilisi)
We traveled to Ushguli by a 4x4 car, back in the days there was just a dirt road, but in recent yeras major improvemtn has been made, and currently there was about.6km unpaved dirt road. I would say quite accesible location.
The famous Swan towers of Ushguli
Ushguli is located at an altitude of 2,100 metres (6,900 ft) near the foot of Shkhara, one of the highest summits of the Greater Caucasus mountains. About 70 families (about 200 people) live in the area, enough to support a small school. The area is snow-covered for 6 months of the year, and often the road to Mestia is impassable.
We found a nice cafe near the river, order some wine and I went exploring Ushguli with the help of drone.
Latter we decided to return to Racha via Lentekhi and took some of the most spectacualr rides.
The most notable feature of the villages in Ushguli are the defensive tower houses found throughout the community. These houses are between 3-5 stories tall were built primarily between the 9th and 12th centuries. Although many of the towers in the lower towns such as Mestia have fallen into disrepair, the isolation of Ushguli has preserved the towers. Chazhashi, one of the villages within the community, contains over 200 of these towers and has been preserved as a Museum-Reserve
Our returning road to Tbilisi, via Kutaisi and via Lentekhi. Spectacular. We didnt met any car for about 2 hours.
If there is a reason to visit Georgia, then Ushguli and region of Svaneti should be a top of your priorities.