Landlocked, in the heart of the ancient Georgian province of Svaneti, Ushguli is one of the most stunning villages we have ever laid eyes on. The photo doesn’t do the setting justice, but with more than twenty defensive stone towers dotting the landscape and the mighty Mount Shkhara (Georgia’s tallest peak) presiding in the background, it is not surprising that the village is listed as one of the country’s three UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The stone towers are known locally as koshki and were designed to keep villagers safe in times of trouble throughout its long and turbulent history – Upper Svaneti is considered to be the highest continuously inhabited settlement in Europe.
Ushguli is only 47km from Mestia, Svaneti’s main town, but for the best part the road is appalling and it takes at least 2½ hours to get there. If you want to get close to the mountain you need to spend at least one night in the village. Ushguli has several homestays and guesthouses although they are fairly basic compared to those found in Mestia.