Svan village with typical towers. Photo by Gocha Kakulia.

The famous region of Svaneti is situated in one of the most remote valleys in the Greater Caucasus. Here you can combine excellent birding with the authentic culture of the mountains. Very impressive are the Svan villages with their numerous towers, built by the different clans in order to impress the others. You can reach the area in about 5 hours from Batumi, the last two hours driving through a beautiful gorge where you can enjoy a tasty kubdari (meat pie) in one of the roadside stalls.

Birding is rather different here from Kazbegi, the Greater Caucasus’ other hostpot. A major advantage is that you can drive up to 3000m, where you find Caucasian highlights during the breeding season. In summer, this saves you a tough hike uphill and a night’s camping at this altitude. In a day’s walk around the area, you should be able to find the Caucasian Snowcock, Güldenstadt’s Redstart and Great Rosefinch, while Caucasian Black Grouse occur at lower altitude. Other highlights include Red-fronted Serin, Bearded Vulture, Wallcreeper, Twite, Alpine Accentor and Horned Lark. Interestingly, the Krüper’s Nuthatch reaches his northernmost distribution here.