Svaneti, Georgia's rocky wilderness, is new ski paradise

With its rugged landscape of rocky peaks, virgin slopes and breathtaking vistas, Georgia's most isolated region, Upper Svaneti, is a magnet for skiers and a UN World Heritage site.

It even hopes to host the Winter Olympics one day.

Famous for ancient villages dotted with stone watchtowers, forested gorges and alpine valleys, this Caucasus region is one of the highest and most remote settlements in Europe.

Upper Svaneti (above) is popular with tourists, especially skiers.

"It's simply a paradise for me here," Mr Igor Lipovoi, a skier from Ukraine, said on the slopes of Tetnuldi mountain.

"And besides, it's fairly cheap here - it's much, much cheaper than (western) Europe."

To attract tourists, the government has spent millions of dollars to improve transport links to Svaneti and built a new airport in the village of Mestia, a regional hub, and two modern resorts. - AFP