Skiing in Georgia: Discover stunning slopes

Georgia's impressive mountains for skiing. Photo Nika Lebanidze, Dec 18, 2014, Tbilisi, Georgia

The winter season is nearly upon us and Georgia’s ski slopes are already doused in a healthy layer of snow and ice, encouraging local and foreign holidaymakers to continue flocking to Georgia to hit the pristine slopes.

Picking the right place for a winter break in Georgia can be puzzling as there are four ski destinations to choose from – Gudauri, Bakuriani, Mestia (Svaneti) and Goderdzi (Adjara).

Gudauri in the Greater Caucasus and Bakuriani in the Lesser Caucasus were the two major alpine resorts for Georgia's winter tourism industry.

In 2011, Mestia emerged as a third winter holiday destination to rival Gudauri and Bakuriani. Set in the high mountainous region of Svaneti, in the Central-West Caucasus Mountains, Mestia is a place of astounding beauty. Svaneti is believed to be Georgia’s top destination for backcountry.

Goderdzi is the newest of Georgia’s winter resorts in the slopes of the mountainous Adjara region. It boasts the longest ski trail but the resort is still under construction.

Georgia’s varied ski resorts cater to people of all skiing and snowboarding abilities, from novice to expert.

With dozens of slopes, Gudauri has pistes for all levels of skiers and snowboarders. Photo by Nika Lebanidze.

Artificial snow – a prosperous winter season

Georgia is ready for a bumper ski season at the country’s leading winter resorts thanks to the use of artificial snow machines for the first time.

The new machines will ensue there was a decent snow base on the ski tracks at Gudauri and Didveli (Bakuriani), and guarantee winter revellers can enjoy a long, prosperous winter season.

The artificial snowmakers’, so-called snow guns have already been installed and tested at the first ropeway of the Didveli ski track in Bakuriani and the first ropeway in Gudauri.

Mountain Resort Development Company, who is responsible for the development of Bakuriani and Gudauri resorts, believed that whatever the weather, snow would be guaranteed all winter at Gudauri and Bakuriani.

Italian company Demaklenko installed the snowmaking machines at the two resorts. See the video below.

"The ski season was partly dropped due to climate obstacles last year. Since it was announced that artificial snowmakers would be installed, the level of interest of international visitors has increased. They are very satisfied and I believe the satisfaction will even increase in the future,” said Guram Adamia, the IT developer of Mountain Resort Development Company.

The snow guns will work at night and make new snow out of water. "The temperature must be below zero for the snowmaking machines to turn water into snowflakes,” Adamia said.

He was confident the artificial snow would help improve the reliability of snow cover at the two ski fields and extend the ski season for longer. It is believed the snowmakers will extend the winter season until the end of April.

By spring 2015, additional artificial snowmakers are expected be installed at two ski tracks in Gudauri and artificial lakes will also be built at Bakuriani and Gudauri. The lakes will provide the snow guns with enough water for making snow. Georgian freeskier and Red Bull athlete in Caucasus Iva (Ivane) Tsiklauri in Georgia’s mountains.

The local business community hailed the infrastructure development, which was expected to bring more tourists to the region. Salome Todadze, who managed boutique 55-bed Carpe Diem hotel in Gudauri told they were "delighted” that snow was guaranteed in the winter and the resort would be developed to international standards.

"Almost 60 percent of rooms are already booked for this winter period. Every day we receive local and international calls from tourists asking for weather conditions. They are very positive when we say that artificial snow machines have already been installed,” Todadze said.

One ski-pass in Gudauri and Didveli (Bakuriani)

Visitors can choose their desired destination with complete peace of mind and use one electronic ski-pass system to use the ski lifts in Gudauri and the Didveli ski trail lift in Bakuriani.

With a multi ski-pass, visitors can enjoy slopes in Gudauri and Bakuriani, involving 11 ski lifts, 28 ski-trails and 44km of ski route runs.

A multi ski-pass is the first regional ski pooling in Georgia and is provided by SKIDATA, a leading global supplier of access management solutions.

"In the Alps it is already a standard thing to have a ski pooling but here in the Caucasus and former CIS countries, including Russia, it is only Georgia to be proud to use this innovative solution and attract visitors from around the world. This is a very good step, it is the good for Georgia to be the first to do this in the region,” said the general director of SKIDATA Philipp Heindl.

The general director of SKIDATA Philipp Heindl holds the electronic ski-pass card for Gudauri and Didiveli (Bakuriani). Photo by Nino Alavidze/

Heindl believed Georgia had very interesting ski resorts with good accommodation facilities and was confident that in the next few years, other winter resorts in Georgia, such as Mestia and Goderdzi, would be added to the multi ski-pass system.

"Technically it is possible but it depends on the decision of the operation company of the ski resorts,” Heindl said.

Multi ski-pass cards are available at tourism agencies and hotels and can be topped up electronically by internet and mobile banking.

The ski lifts in Gudauri operate on weekdays from 10am to 5pm and for late night skiers the lifts are open on Saturdays from 7.30pm to 10pm. Day ski passes cost 30 GEL ($17; €13) per adult and 20 GEL ($11; €9) per child. The price of a seasonal multi ski-pass is 650 GEL ($349; €283).

Click here to see the ski pass prices in detail.

Contemporary Georgian Painter Oleg Timchenko exclusively painted this picture for ski pass card. Photo by Nino Alavidze/

Travel agency representatives said the multi ski pass system gave them an opportunity to offer tourists two winter resorts in one tourist package.

"Tourists always have questions about the ski lift prices. We even have the opportunity to buy a special terminal to print out the ski pass tickets and later visitor can top up it electronically,” said director of local tour agency Samt Travel Tamuna Katamadze.

The ski season in Gudauri will official open on December 20, while in Bakuriani and Mestia the resort will officially open on December 27. The remote valleys and untouched foothills around Gudauri offer exceptional cross-country skiing, just a short distance from Gudauri's groomed trails and ski lifts. Photo by T.Khurtsia

Georgia’s National Tourism Administration, a governmental body responsible for the tourism development in the country, has been working on numerous campaigns to help kick-start the winter season.

"Georgia’s winter resorts are designed to keep people connected and energised, and we feel the renewed infrastructure will be a perfect fit for travellers that we know will visit this destination. Georgia continues to see a rise in inbound tourism and we look forward to welcoming guests to Gudauri, Bakuriani, Mestia,” said head of the Administration Giorgi Chogovadze.

"On behalf of Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA), it is my pleasure to welcome you to our beautiful winter destinations! We believe that the improved skiing infrastructure, brilliant scenery and comfortable accommodations will be a perfect fit for all travelers visiting the country this winter.”

He said that besides skiing – cultural events, Christmas Bazaars, ski championships for skiers of all abilities and other entertainments were planned for this season.

The rental of new, up to date ski equipment is available in ski resorts through ski schools, local outfitters and hotels. Photo by Nino