Bakhmaro was the first stop on our 2nd exploration tour.The small summer resort is popular among people from the reagion to spent some time in the fresh air and cool
air of the Lower Caucasus. Mostly the visitors stay in small wooden huts or camp in the outdoors. But there is also a hotel and some guest houses.
The village is situated in the Meskheti Range on the northern slopes of the Lower Caucasus around 60 k from the shores of the
Black Sea. The range is characterized by high amounts of precipitation, which caught our attention in the first
In the winter Bakhmaro is abandoned and the road is not cleared. Since Soviet times there
are plans to develop a ski area in this high valley. Now the regional government starts a new attempt to establish Bakhmaro as ski resort.
When we arranged the ride up to Bakhmaro we thought just Davit, head of the community, would show us the place and the hotel. A local would drive us up in a
"tractor", an old caterpillar. The owner of the tractor joined us as well. And of cause we have been in need of a translator. The governor also asked for an armed guard because of bears and
wulfs. The travel company grew fast. In the end we have been a travel company of 9: 2 skiers and 7 people to bring us
We have been curious about the ride on a "tractor". An old caterpillar is not made for carrying 9 persons including equipment and food. After applying some creative
loading technics we were ready to go. Must of the ride we stand on a plank in the back holding on to a shovel, which was installed as handhold. However,
sometimes it was faster to walk.
It took us almost all day to reach Bakhmaro. We arrived after nightfall, covering the last kilometers on our skies. Dinner was held in the empty and cold hotel: some great basic food and a lot of Chacha. In the end it was a great experience with a great travel company, I will never forget.
Bakhmaro is an interesting place to develop a ski area. We are waiting for historic weather data to assess the climate in more detail.
In particular at the beginning of the season the Lower Caucasus offers reliable snow conditions and loads of powder. We will position our weather station here in the winter 2016/2017 to collect our own meteo data.
After exploring Bakhmaro, we visited Mestia to see the new Tetnuldi Ski Area and Hatsvali.
Mestia in Svanetia is a special place. The famous towers, the great mountains of the Greater Caucasus and its isolated location crreate a unique atmosphere. It is
already a popular place for hiking and mountainiering in summer and will develop fast into an attractive winter destination.
The development of the ski area could not keep up with its schedule. When we arrived in February there was just one lift operating. Jochen and I have been pretty much the only people going off-piste on these days.
Mestia is worth traveling all the way to Upper Svanetia. Downhill skiing is still in its infancy. However, with the new resort Tetnuldi it will develop fast. Definitely a must go for the winter 2016/17 - before it becomes busy!
Our tip: skiing down to the little mountain village of Aidishi (2'100m) and hiking back up via the summer way to the groomers of the ski area.
Hatsvali has got good potential to become the "Hausberg" of Mestia. It has some interesting beginner's terrain. Just the (new) T-bars weren't running. Unfortunately the slopes are all north-facing which will cause a lot of days with icy conditions. Something beginners do not like.