Maybe it doesn’t fit into the format of travel blog with top-whatever-things-to-eat-to-do-not-to-do, but…
…guys, I am in the hammock under the walnut tree, Ushba is looking at me, that twin peak, which in my head is still someone mythological, someone from old legends, from mum’s bedtime stories, even though the mum who shared the stories was not mine, but my friend’s. But she was the one who knew it all better than anyone else, because Svaneti was in her blood.
…after months of hard work (actually at two full-time jobs, even though it sounds like I used a Timeturner) I can afford myself exchange glances with mighty, deadly serious Ushba and not to do anything else. No cloud is seen next to its peaks, so crystal clear is my head; wind is playing with tree leaves, river Dolra is growling in some 200 meters from me, in 200 steps barefoot on the grass.
I am in the Svan commune Becho. On vacation. Officially admitting my inner refusal of all-inclusive kinds of leisure, because as I think of something like this, my feet start itching and calling me to go face some adventures.At the same time I’m yearning for calmness and no calls and messages, even kind ones. Never mentioned it in the blog, but this summer I combined my work for Georgian National Tourism Administration with work for the biggest Georgian electronic music event, GEM Fest. During a short period of time I met hundreds of people, organized a press-trip for journalists from 11 countries, was coordinating 20+ bars and food courts, learned a lot of details about how the customs procedures are going on. I was burned out like never before.
Because of that I just came back from a 20-something-kilometer hike to a huge waterfall in the mountains of Svaneti :)) Swinging in the hammock and writing the things I want to share feels incredible. The guest house I stay at is very nice and simple, the hosts are very sweet and warm, and I can’t help, but mention it here. I even don’t care, if Tamuna and her family speak any foreign language, as all conversation we have are in Georgian. It feels pretty much like home.
A hike to Mazeri waterfall, which is actually called Shdugra, takes 4 hours, if you start walking from Becho. I managed to reach it in three, but as my mum always said that I am moving with delicacy of a locomotive, I better say you will need four.
From the end of the village Becho you cross the bridge (walking or by car) and move forward. After passing by couple of other villages, after the hotel Peak Mazeri and Grand Hotel Ushba, you will notice the route marking. Ours, to the waterfall, is marked by red and white. Following the marks, you will reach an unfinished house, not a huge one, even though all locals call it “a big building”. After it you cross another bridge on foot and go into the forest. The car should stay. You’d better get yourself a reliable stick – it will be pretty useful for crossing the streams and going up, plus you will really feel like Gandalf.
Real “up” starts after the border checkpoint (yep, the border is not far from here). I needed around 30 minutes to cover the distance between the checkpoint and the waterfall, but what kind of 30 minutes it was! Sometimes you have to climb almost vertically or find yourself at the edge of abyss covered with flowers, and the waterfall (actually, they are several) are still gurgling somewhere up…
Well, in the end I came to the middle one and found out that I was the only person there.
That’s why my other advice is: if you hike there in the hot season, prepare a swimming suit. Taking a bath there feels so icy awesome! After the bath I had a fresh bread with homemade cheese and huge tomato with Svan salt, packed by my dearest host Tamuna, and it tasted like heaven, and the look from that spot was heavenly, and butterflies were resting at my shoes, and the whole world seemed a bit Disney-like after an ice-cold bath in this waterfall.
The descent took me the same three hours. I also found out that the border guards knew my name, as Tamuna the host asked them to take care of her guest. A cup of coffee with them and a beautiful sunset kept the level of excitement at the same top level.
I would recommend that route to anybody who has no issues with knees or waterfalls: it takes the whole day, the level of difficulty is average, and the view from above are totally worth every hour you spend on the road. I hope that the upcoming vacation days will bring some more pieces of advice and stories. Stay tuned!
temporarily sociopath Dariko
This blog was orignally published on 'Dariko'