It is a 9 to 10 hours hike covering around 12km with 1,352m elevation gain and 866m elevation loss.
This is the hardest day with lots of steep ascents and descents to cover, reaching an elevation of 3,500m which adds high-altitude challenge. If you are not familiar with high altitude, it means you could suffer from light headaches, have nausea, lose appetite, and all due to the lack of oxygen in your body. If you have any of these symptoms, keep drinking water and go on a slower pace.
Half of the day is spent hiking by the flat bit of Kvakhidisitskali river, and you cross it twice. The first cross is on a wooden bridge, and the second cross there is a rock with “Exit Shatili” mark on, and no bride, so yes, you have to get wet. You start gaining elevation by taking the right valley about 150m after the river. The terrain changes from flat bits of just green grass, to pure brown scree with a very visible path taking you all the way to the Atsunta pass. This is the section you might suffer from High-altitude.
At Atsunta pass (the highest point you reach on this trek), there are few flags, souvenirs, and markings. Take rest here and enjoy the 360 view of both sides of the trek before you start the descent.
We camped just after the descent section, and turned out to be the best decision. There were no water streams further that section. And to our luck, we had great sunset and sunrise views overlooking the tip of Mt. Kazbegi and other mountain range.
Last river crossing before the uphill part