Ushguli is a city in Svaneti.
There are five villages next to a mountain.
Transportation into Ushguli is very limited. There is a road from Kutaisi that is serviced by private vehicles. Otherwise a trip from Mestia is the easiest way to see Ushguli. There are mini busses and also private rides that go to Ushguli. For the mini busses, the price is 30-40 GEL per person, return. Expect to pay the same amount for one way trip. For the private taxi, the price is 150-200 GEL per car. You can easily find rides to Ushguli from Mestia because a lot of busses and private taxi drivers gather around the Mestia Park. It is not necessary to book ahead with ticket agent. You may probably get cheaper ride to Ushguli on early morning if there is tourist with hired private mini buses or taxi and waiting to get full.
The trip from Mestia is 45km and takes about 2.5-3 hours. The first 15km are now paved, and the rest of the road is not as bad as they tell you in Mestia. Potholed and bumpy, yes, but not rutted or washboarded. A 4x4 is not usually needed.
Once in the villages, you can walk between them all very easily.
Skhara Glacier. It will take 8 hours hike to the bottom of the Skhara Glacier. Beside hiking, you can do horse riding to Skhara glacier for 90 gel; 40gel per horse and 50 gel for a guide. It is advisable to get a guide with you if you're going for horse riding. This is because, you will encounter some of poisonous leaves that will leave you a itchy and burn rash to your skin if you're not careful. The guide knows every spot where to avoid these leaves.
Gamarjoba Art Gallery - the owner of this art gallery owns the Gamarjoba Guesthouse too. His name is Mr. Temraz. On the first floor of the guesthouse, there is an art gallery that showed paintings made by the brother of Mr. Temraz. You can find these painting in his Facebook, Fridon Nizharadze Art Gallery (Galeria obrazów Fridona Niżaradze).
Ushguli Tower - there will one tower that you'll see on your right when you pass the Ushguli bridge. This is the only tower that is accessible for people to climb up to the top of the tower. You'll need to climb up to go inside the tower using the wooden stairs provided. Once you're in there, you'll need to start your rock climbing skills because there are no proper way to go up to the roof beside climbing up between the rocks in the tower. There's no safety rail provided for the climbers.
The main attraction in Ushguli is the Shkhara glacier. This can be easily done in a day-trip from Mestia. The hike is 8 kilometers each way over mostly flat, easy trail. You may have to wade several shallow streams, so be prepared. Allow at least 6-7 hours return. The views along the trail are breathtaking, especially if the wildflowers are in bloom (as they were in June). It is possible to get very close to the glacier by car and save energies for ascending higher and closer to the glacier.
Guides are available (~80 GEL), but are really not necessary. Horses can be arranged for ~40 GEL p/p from most of the guesthouses.
A visit to the Ethnography museum is well worth the GEL 5-6 that the local children will ask for admission. Housed in a preserved Svan house, the museum contains artifacts ranging in age from the long history of the Svaneti regions. The local children will provide rehearsed description of the artifacts in passable English.
The Georgian wartime treasury. Placed in the "most inaccessible part of Georgia" the countless national treasures were held in the Ushguli monastery during periods of conflict.
Walk through the town streets and marvel at the "edge of time" feel to the town. Cows outnumber people in Ushguli and roam the streets at will, so look down as you walk!
You can find Ushguli handmade souvenirs in the cafés. Most cafés will have souvenirs market next to it. Among the souvenirs are:
There are a few cafes, and stores. You could also get food from your guest house.
For latte lovers, you can get the same taste from the cold coffee with ice cream. If you tried to describe latte, they won't get the idea.
Ask anyone in the village for a place to sleep. There are around two dozen guesthouses in the Ushguli area, and the price will be 40-50 Lari per person ($20-$30 as of 2015) and include breakfast and dinner. Guesthouses near the river are usually quieter.
The challenge will start when finding a ride back to Mestia. There are no specific time schedule that you can refer to go back to Mestia. The bus drivers will leave ushguli anytime he wants or until the bus is full. It is advisable to go to the bridge at Ushguli 2 hours prior to your departure and ask the drivers around when is the next time they will leave Ushguli. Confirm the time and price with them, and get the number if necessary because there is 50% chances they won't show up. There will be mini busses at the bridge. But varies in time of departure.
Mini bus wait at the bridge until they're filled (~30GEL-40GEL p/p) to go to Mestia.
As of July 2017, there are buses that leave from Mestia to Ushguli every morning at 10am and arrives at 12pm. The bus then comes back to Mestia at 4pm.
It is also sometimes possible to get rides on to lower Svaneti and Kutaisi over the mountain pass to the south (6 hours from Ushguli to Kutaisi). They leave from near the cafe usually in the early morning. Summertime only. I was told it was spectacular.