The Transcaucasian Trail (TCT) project aims to build a long-distance hiking trail (3000+ km) through Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan following the Greater and Lesser Caucasus mountain ranges.
In June and July 2017 I led a team of 13 on a UBES trip to Svaneti, Georgia to gather route data for the TCT and test the first built section of trail as a backpacking route, hiking 180km in total. The trip was kindly supported by the University of Bristol’s Knowlson Trust.
Alaverdi - Haghartsin
In July 2018 I hiked an unmarked 100km section of the TCT in Armenia from Alaverdi to Haghartsin monastery with my friend Rhodri gathering route data for the TCT team. Sadly due to injury we didn’t manage to hike our planned TCT section in Georgia.
Return to Svaneti
In autumn 2021 I returned to Svaneti with Raef and Charlie to enjoy lots more khachapuri, kubdari, khinkali, and Natakhtari lemonade (if you’ve never tried chocolate lemonade, you don’t know what you’re missing out on…) and, er, yes, also to do some hiking. We hiked from Mukhuri to Khaishi via the stunning Tobavarkchili Lakes (ft. unexpectedly clear views of Elbrus) - a section of the TCT that we’d planned to do in 2017, but was infeasible that year due to the high snow levels. We then did lots of exploring around Mestia and Mazeri before hiking into Lower Svaneti from Ushguli over the Latpari Pass, with breathtaking views of the Bezengi Wall and 9 glaciers visible at once. On this trip we also had our first peek at the Kazbegi region, although didn’t have time to explore fully. Will I be back again? Most probably! I can’t recommend hiking in Georgia highly enough.
Media about the Svaneti expedition:
Since our UBES trip, route guides have been published for the built section of trail in Svaneti and it’s become much more popular. Don’t be put off by our tales from 2017 - it’s much more hiker-friendly now and definitely worth a visit! Route guides for other areas (including excitingly the first sections in Azerbaijan) are also available on the TCT website. If you’d like to get involved, the TCT are always on the lookout for trailbuilding volunteers and mapping volunteers (this can be done at home on your laptop - check the TCT’s Facebook page for their mapping intro sessions). Another fantastic source of route information, tips, and info on current conditions is Jozef’s Caucasus Trekking site and the associated Facebook page and group.
Val and Lea were the first hikers to thru-hike the Lesser Caucasus TCT route, both solo. They played a crucial role in defining the route, blazing the way for future hikers: