Sunday, September 22nd 2019

Hike to Kazbegi, Georgia

After hiking in Svaneti we could not leave Georgia without going to Kazbegi. To be in Georgia and not visit Kazbegi is like visiting Prague and not seeing the Charles bridge. Besides the Georgia Military Highway which leads to Kazbegi and the Georgian-Russian border is famous for its stunning views. Even marshrutka ride (10Lari) could not spoil our excitement (mini-buses extensively used as transport between cities/towns, very old, uncomfortable and usually packed with people & bags; drivers are usually grumpy and tend to shout at foreigners ;-///). I was also curios to see Gudauri, famous Georgian ski resort, which has been recently renovated. It is famous for great heli-skiing (helicopter).

The road proved to be unbelievably spectacular and the mountains are gorgeous. The only problem was that half of the way the road was totally destroyed and the driver had to possess super-human skills to navigate our way between potholes, wall on one side, cliff on the other and cars passing in the opposite direction.

We did not see much of Gudauri, just ski lift climbing up & over the peaks, and a lot of hotels under construction. Ski slopes must be great here. Maybe one day we will hit them.

Our guest house was located on the opposite side of Kazbegi valley & we had a great view over its snowy peak. Gray clouds clad the mountains by the evening. We did not know yet whether we’ll see the famous peak next morning.

kazbegi at sunrise

We were not sure the weather will be good enough to hike the next day. Decided to wait till 9-10AM, and if the weather is bad, to leave from Kazbegi.

The village is actually called Stepantsminda, and Kazbegi is the name of the area around. There is another village, Gergeti across the valley which is the starting point if you hike up. By 8:30 the skies cleared out and opened the peak to the rising sun. The view was breathtaking. Here we were looking at the tallest peak of Caucasus.

The way to the peak can be split into several stages:1) to the church, 2) to the cross viewing point, 3) across the glacier to the meteo station, and 4) from the meteo station to the top – 5033m.

You can either walk or take a horse to the 1 and 2 point. Many people go by cars to the church.

horses kazbegi

Some people spend a night at the church to have an early start & shorter hike to the meteostation. The hike starts in the villages of Gergeti right below the church which dominates the valley.

gergeti village kazbegi

The first part is quite easy and will take 40-50 minutes to reach Gergety Trinity Church.

hike kazbegi rest

The Gergeti Trinity Church was built in the 14th century, and is the only cross-cupola church in Khevi province. The separate belltower dates from the same period as the church itself. Its isolated location on top of a steep mountain surrounded by the vastness of nature has made it a symbol for Georgia. If you see a picture of Kazbegi, this church will be present in 90% of pictures.

church kazbegi georgia

During the Soviet time, all religious services were prohibited, but the church remained a popular tourist destination. Now it is both popular religious destination & trekkers’ waypoint.

church kazbegi georgia 01

The legend

Mount Kazbek is associated in Georgian folklore with Amirani, the Georgian version of Prometheus, who was chained on the mountain in punishment for having stolen fire from the gods and having given it to mortals. The location of his imprisonment later became the site of an Orthodox hermitage located in a cave called “Betlemi” (Bethlehem) at around the 4000 meter level. According to legends, this cave housed many sacred relics, including Abraham’s tent and the manger of the infant Jesus.

travel photo report kazbegi

The summit was first climbed in 1868 by D. W. Freshfield, A. W. Moore, and C. Tucker of the Alpine Club, with the guide François Devouassoud. They were followed by the female Russian alpinist Maria Preobrazhenskaya, who made the climb nine times starting in the year 1900.

If you plan to reach the top you will need to sleep at the meteostation inside(25Lari) or in your tent(10Lari). With mounteneering equipment you can climb to the very top of Kazbegi. We were told that you have to wake very early, as it takes about 6 hours from the meteo station to the peak.

As we are travelling very light we don’t have any heavy equipment or proper clothes. so we decided to hike as much as we can. I wanted to reach the meteo station but it turned out a bit to be too far.

From the church the trail climbs higher and higher. The landscapes around are gorgeous. I must admit though that views in Svaneti are more dramatic.

kazbegi georgia 04

mara kazbegi georgia 04

kazbegi glacier 01

We made it to the 2nd point – to the cross. view point. From here you have a great views over the glacier. Then the trail goes down and up to the glacier and hides behind rocks on the left. This part is for those who are planning to stay overnight at the meteo station.

kazbegi glacier

There were a lot of people here having rest. Some before continuing further, some before going back. We stopped here as well. I was still evaluating going further to the meteo station. I did not have enough time as we started quite late. Besides frankly speaking I was tired and decided to take it easy. After having some food and enjoying the views rested and refreshed we started our descending. Short stop at the Trinity Church and further down. Half way to Gergeti village a car stopped and guys offered us a ride. It was great, saved us some time and pain in the legs. A young couple was very cheerful. Thee were singing to the music from a laptop. I labeled this later – moving Georgia karaoke. This was a great end of a great day. Tasty dinner was awaiting us at the guest house.

Kazbegi is a must if you visit Georgia. Both the Georgian Military Highway and Kazbegi are very well worth visiting. You will be able to reach the very top if you are fit enough and have proper equipment. Otherwise you can just hike to the church, or even spare the pains and just get a car up there. In any case I am sure you will love the place, provided of course if the weather is good.


Kazbegi georgia


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8 Comments on “Hike to Kazbegi, Georgia”

  1. Guys, this looks just amazing to me…I think I know what to save money for :)

    1. Kay, it is so much worth saving money for. I mean travelling in general.

  2. yeah…. alex great blog man, loving it…. and though georgia has been on my list for years… I think that oyu have succeeded in persuading me… pushed over the tipping point! Let’s go Kay!

    1. Thanks, Cam. The Georgian mountains, especially Svaneti are stunning. I could not do proper hiking and camping as we don’t have necessary gear, plus it is not that easy. But I will definitely go back for proper hiking-camping.

  3. […] I was actually quite surprised that this park is the least famous hiking area as opposed to Kazbegi and Svaneti, and has the best information system with the tourist office, great web-site and […]

  4. […] 6-hour ride from Kutaisi to Svaneti on bad roads, as well as challenging ride from Tbilisi to Kazbegi and […]

  5. […] was the next stop after Kazbegi. We reached the town by afternoon. On approach we stopped to take some pictures. The town nested on […]

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