Welcome to Svaneti
Not so long ago Svaneti was still pretty well off the beaten track, but tourism development since the mid-2000s has brought new ski stations, flights from Tbilisi, a major improvement of the road up from Zugdidi, a huge increase in accommodation options and many more visitors, to the point where Svaneti's only town, Mestia, can get pretty busy in summer. Svaneti's mystique and beauty, however, are in no danger of wearing thin.
During the many invasions of Georgia over the centuries, icons and other religious valuables were brought to this isolated region for safekeeping, and a significant number remain in private homes today. Svaneti also has a rich church-art heritage of its own, and many tiny village churches boast frescoes 1000 years old. This mountain retreat, with its own unwritten language, largely unintelligible to other Georgians, is regarded as a bastion of Georgian traditions, as can be witnessed at the numerous Svan festivals of which probably the most famous is Kvirikoba.
Svaneti is divided into Upper (Zemo) and Lower (Kvemo) Svaneti. Green and beautiful Upper Svaneti offers the best walking and climbing as well as the strongest traditions. The walking season lasts from about early June to mid-October, though some routes can be waterlogged early or late in that period.