Tetnuldi Ski Resort

With the development of yet another ski resort in its Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region, Georgia is cementing a name for itself as one of the premier winter destinations in Eastern Europe. Tetnuldi is the second largest ski resort in Georgia after Gudauri. A cut above other ski destinations, Tetnuldi boasts the longest trails and biggest vertical drops in the South Caucasus.

Tetnuldi’s slogan is: “Always new, deep and high-quality snow for skiers who love freeriding” – and the resort truly lives up to this motto. Its location and panoramas of majestic peaks such as Ushba and Tetnuldi make the resort an attractive destination for Georgia tourism. Many tourists come here each year for the diversified environment and promise of unforgettable adventures.

The main draws of Tetnuldi Ski Resort are the good quality snow and rich environment for freeriding. It’s possible to freeride or off-piste ski in fir forests and on steep vertical slopes. The resort enjoys a lot of snowfall as it often snows here, which makes for a wonderful skier’s paradise.

THE HISTORY OF TETNULDI WINTER SPORTS CENTER

Named after the imposing Mt. Tetnuldi (4,870m) that dominates the skyline, Tetnuldi is the newest ski resort in Europe. Opened in 2016, construction of Tetnuldi began in 2014, and the first part was completed two years later.

Until the opening of the resort, the area around Tetnuldi was remote and inaccessible with big mountains little-known among the skiing community. Only a handful of skiers and snowboarders had descended from these snowy slopes in previous years.

Today, the young and unique world-class ski resort of Tetnuldi continues to improve itself, and is fast becoming a dream for both experienced riders and discerning travelers.

THE BEST TIME TO VISIT TETNULDI SKI RESORT

Tetnuldi stands out among other Georgia ski resorts because it has the longest winter season in the country. Ski season at the Tetnuldi skiing hub runs from late November to early May. During ski season, the resort is open daily between the hours of 09h00 and 17h00. The best time to visit Tetnuldi is during the winter months of March and April, while the best months for skiing in Georgia are January and February.

HOW TO GET TO THE SKIING HUB

Tetnuldi Ski Resort is nestled on the slopes of the Greater Caucasus, about 15km east of the beautiful town of Mestia, accessible on a one hour drive. Although Mestia has an airport, flights into this mountainous valley are dependent on the weather and therefore cannot be relied upon. Unless you are on an organized tour or driving yourself in a rental, getting to Mestia and Tetnuldi is not the easiest trip.

Kutaisi (240km) is the nearest major city and airport located south of the ski area. Getting from Kutaisi by road is a rough 6 hour drive. It’s best to fly from Kutaisi Airport which has a number of daily flights from several airports throughout Europe. A transfer from Batumi Airport (256km) takes a similar duration of 6 hours. Alternatively, you may fly into Tbilisi Airport (430km), although the journey to Mestia will be several hours longer.

The quickest way to reach Mestia from Kutaisi Airport is via private transfer. This is because there are no mainstream public transport services directly to Tetnuldi from the airport. You will therefore need to take a bus or taxi into the city, and then a mini bus from the main bus station in Kutaisi. Although this is a relatively cheap alternative to a private transfer, it comes with the discomfort of a lengthy transfer in a cramped bus, plus a big question mark over where you will put your skis!

Once you get to Mestia, the final part of the journey will be along an ice and snow-covered road with a notorious reputation. It is recommended to only use a 4×4 or truck/ bus transport on this road during winter, and our travel agency can organize transfers for you up the mountain. We have a modern fleet of comfortable cars designed for winter driving on mountain roads. They are spacious to accommodate all your luggage and equipped with roof racks for transporting ski equipment. Our experienced and professional drivers guarantee a safe and pleasant journey.

The best term used to describe how to drive in the mountains of Georgia is “with caution.” As such, rental cars should only be driven by experienced drivers with vehicles equipped for winter driving. Our travel agency offers cars for hire with winter tires and roof racks designed to transport skiing equipment.

SKI AREAS

The winter sports area at the Tetnuldi skiing hub is situated between the elevations of 2,265m and 3,160m. With this top elevation of 3,160m, snow quantity and quality is guaranteed.

Tetnuldi boasts the longest ski tracks in the South Caucasus at 9.5km, and the biggest vertical drop of 1.7km. A short easy run is also available although it leads to the intermediate valley run, thereby making the resort an excellent choice for experienced skiers looking for intermediate to challenging runs.

The resort offers 13.4km of slopes for skiing and snowboarding: 1km of beginner slopes, 5.3km of intermediate slopes and 7.1km of difficult slopes. There are 5 lifts to transport guests up the mountains. These include 4 chairlifts and a surface tow – serving 900m of skiable vertical and abundant freeride powder ski terrain.

THINGS TO DO IN TETNULDI SKI RESORT

An all-season destination, the region of Svaneti attracts tourists both in the summer and winter months with its abundance of tourist activities. When the weather is warm, mountain lovers come to hike and explore the region’s ancient culture. And in winter, they are replaced by sports lovers out for adventure on the powdery slopes of Tetnuldi, as well as the nearby ski resort of Hatsvali.

Skiing & Snowboarding

Tetnuldi ski center offers many opportunities for skiing and snowboarding with routes that lead to the slopes of mountains Tetnuldi, Ushba and Shkhara. It’s quite inexpensive to ski or snowboard at Tetnuldi. During the Main Season, ski pass prices for a Day Ticket are GEL 40 for adults and GEL 25 for children. There is free parking and skiers can hire ski equipment at the resort, as well as the appropriate avalanche safety equipment.

Freeriding

Freeriders who visit the ski resort of Tetnuldi will be spoiled with high mountain ranges and virgin powder slopes. The region boasts one of the highest snowfalls in Georgia and this modern resort provides access to fast chair lifts to take you up the slopes for your skiing adventure. The terrain is widely varied and the options are abundant.

Ski Touring

During the winter months, the remote slopes of Svaneti are transformed into the perfect scene for a ski touring adventure off the beaten track. The majestic, snow-capped peaks, including Georgia’s highest mountain, Shkhara (5,201m) are the main draws. Add to this the deep gorges, lush forests and virgin powder snow, and it’s clear to see why Tetnuldi attracts skiers looking for unique travel experiences.

Paragliding

If you’ve always dreamed of soaring up into the skies, paragliding in Tetnuldi is just the way to do it. Prepare yourself to fly as the pilot readies the paraglider. Once strapped in, you will run a few steps to gain some acceleration for the take-off. Soon you’ll be hanging from the sky among the clouds, admiring the incredible views of the Caucasus Mountains around you. Look down and you will see the little homes and villages of Svaneti.

Heli-Skiing

Escape the crowds at your usual ski resort and experience one of the world’s newest heli-skiing destinations. Abundant powder, spectacular vistas and wide open slopes make heli-skiing in Tetnuldi an incredible experience. Heli-ski with a small group led by experienced pilots from a modern state-of-the-art helicopter, and mountain guides who ensure your rides are both safe and fun.

Hiking

If you love trekking, you will enjoy your time in Svaneti as there are plenty of hiking opportunities with breathtaking views. You can go on a multi-day hike from Mestia to Ushguli, one of the most remote Georgian villages and the highest settlement in Europe. If you prefer shorter day-trips, go hiking to spectacular glaciers such as Chaladi and Shkhara, which offers amazing views of Georgia’s highest peak. You can also trek to Koruldi Lake, one of the most stunning lakes in Georgia.

Horse Riding

Mestia boasts an abundance of mountain trails where you can go horse riding. Soak up the picturesque views of the Caucasus, alpine valleys and fascinating cultural sites such as ancient houses, towers and churches. Along the way, your knowledgeable guide will share many interesting stories and legends.

Biking

Bikers can go biking in Svaneti on mountains Hatsvali, Tetnuldi and Shkhara. Ascend up the mountain via cable car and then ride downhill on amazing tracks while enjoying panoramas of the surrounding ice and snow-covered mountains.

Après Ski

After skiing, visitors can visit Tetnuldi Restaurant and enjoy an array of delicious dishes of the traditional Svanetian cuisine. Be sure to sample regional specialties such as kubdari (pork meat pie) and tashmijabi (mashed potatoes with sulguni cheese). There are also several restaurants in Mestia, most of them situated in hotels, as well as a bar/ club at Tetnuldi Hotel.

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS

Tetnuldi Ski Resort is located in the Zemo-Svaneti (Upper Svaneti) region, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of Georgia’s most beautiful and authentic corners. Svaneti is so different from the rest of the country that it’s not surprising that it is a popular summertime destination. While the Caucasus Mountains are the region’s main appeal during wintertime, it’s the valleys that draw tourists in the summer.

When you’re not skiing in Tetnuldi you can explore the region. Svaneti is a fine example of an exceptional mountain landscape composed of well-preserved villages with unique examples of ecclesiastical architecture and arts of medieval origin. Svaneti is particularly famous for its Svan Towers – superb house-towers, the oldest dating back to the 8th century, which in ancient times were used both as dwellings and look-out posts against invaders.

Mestia is the capital of the Svaneti region, home to Georgia’s Svan minority known for their unique language, cuisine and architectural heritage. Full of character, Mestia boasts fortified house-towers and mountains that fill most views from its vibrant center. Visitors can wander along the narrow streets, visiting small cafes and local Georgian souvenir shops.

Time your visit to Svaneti in February, ten weeks before Orthodox Easter, to witness Lamproba, a Svanetian feast dedicated to the commemoration of ancestor souls. On this night, Svans organize torchlight processions, make bonfires, pray and share a festive meal. Join in the celebration and enjoy the hospitality of the highlanders who will offer you chacha (Georgian brandy) at every turn.

Other notable vacation spots to experience the culture and traditions of the Svaneti region are the Museum of History and Ethnography, the Svanetian Architectural Museum, Lamaria Church, House-Museum of Mikheil Khergiani, the Transfiguration Cathedral in Laghami and the Becho Community.

WHERE TO STAY IN TETNULDI

Because accommodation at the Tetnuldi Ski Resort is limited to one hotel with little infrastructure, Mestia is an easier alternative. The historic town of Mestia is the closest main center to Tetnuldi and has a wide range of superb hotels and vacation rentals to choose from. If you will be relying on buses or taxis to get up to the ski lifts, you can stay in Mestia and make daily forays up to Tetnuldi.

If you have a car rental, an intriguing alternative to Mestia would be the small village of Chvabiani to the east. Several splendid guesthouses, some with their own stone towers, are scattered across the quiet village. In good snow, it is said to be possible to ski all the way down to this village from the resort.

Although Tetnuldi continues to grow in popularity, the number of skiers and snowboarders on its slopes remains small. But this is the resort’s biggest advantage as it means that visitors get to avoid the inconvenience of long queues which are common at most ski resorts. The number of guests at Tetnuldi is limited by the small capacity of accommodation at Mestia hotels. To find a room at these hotels upon arrival is next to impossible, which is why you should book in advance with our trip planner.

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