KAZBEGI / STEPANTSMINDA
In order to see the high peaks, mountain rivers and lifestyle of Georgia's Northern borderlands you can travel towards Mtiuleti and Khevi provinces via one of the oldest roads in Georgia, which is namedas the Georgian Military Highway. If weather conditions permit we'll see ‘Mkinvartsveri" or Kazbegi meaning ‘ice-top" in English, spent volcano soaring to height of 5047 m. Mount Kazbegi is the third highest and one of the best known peaks in the Caucasus.
Kazbegi National Park is located on the northern slopes of the mighty Caucasus range, and its protected area covers a total of over 8,700 hectares. At 5,047 metres above sea level, Kazbegi Mountain (or Mkinvartsveri) is the third highest mountain in Georgia, and is surrounded by myths and religious tradition. According to Georgian stories, it was the icy slopes of Kazbegi to which Titan Prometheus, a greek mythological figure, was chained for all eternity as punishment for teaching mankind how to make fire. Prometheus (known as Amirani in Georgia) was supposedly imprisoned in a cave 4,000 meters high. The cave, now called Betlemi (Bethlehem), later served as a dwelling for orthodox monks, and is said to have contained many sacred relics, including Abraham’s tent and Christ’s manger. Hot springs and acidic and carbonated lakes surround the mountain, and earth tremors are fairly frequent. Covered with 135 square kilometres of glacier, Kazbegi is a great place for ice climbing and mountaineering, hiking and tenting in Summer.
The Dariali Gorge is an impossibly steep cleft in the mountains connecting Russia and Georgia, running for 18km from Stepantsminda to the Russian border at Zemo Larsi (Upper Lars). For millennia, this mountain passage has been strategically crucial, and has been fortified since at least 150 BC. In places, the cliff faces are more than 1,000m high, and medieval watchtowers, waterfalls and wildlife make this one of the most incredible roads in the world. The steep valleys either side of the gorge are great places for bird watching. Eagles, hawks and the massive griffon vultures all nest among the rocky outcrops. The town of Stepantsminda (also called Kazbegi) itself is charming and a wonderful base camp for exploring the region further. There are many guesthouses where locals are happy to treat you like family, rustic and beautiful with views of the mountains, and often the picturesque Gergeti Trinity Church.
Sites to Visit:
• Ananuri - Ananuri castle represents multifunctional architectural complex of the late feudal times in Georgia. Built on the right bank of Aragvi River in 16th-17th cc, it was the main seat of Aragvi Eristavi - Dukes dynasty since 13th c . The village Ananuri is located on the main trade rout leading to the North, and in past it was part of the Great Silk Road. Nowadays the road is called the Georgian Military Highway. The distance from Tbilisi is 74 km (1 h) - beautiful driving along Zhinvali water reservoir damping clean and blue mountain river of Aragvi. The castle, the bell tower, three churches and beautifully carved walls are the highlites why the site is frequently visited.
The castle was the scene of numerous battles. The fortress remained in use until the beginning of the 19th century. In 2007, the complex has been on the tentative list for inclusion into the UNESCO World Heritage Site program.
The fortifications consist of two castles joined by a crenellated curtain wall. Within the complex, amongst other buildings, are two churches. The older Church of the Virgin, which abuts a tall square tower, has the graves of some of the Dukes of Aragvi. It dates from the first half of the 17th century, and was built of brick. The interior is no longer decorated, but of interest is a stone baldaquin erected by the widow of the Duke Edishera, who died in 1674.
The larger Church of the Assumption (Ghvtismshobeli), built in 1689 for the son of Duke Bardzem. It is a central dome style structure with richly decorated facades, including a carved north entrance and a carved grapevine cross on the south façade. It also contains the remains of a number of frescoes, most of which were destroyed by the fire in the 18th century.
• Gergeti Trinity Church is a popular name for Holy Trinity Church near the village of Gergeti in Georgia. The church is situated on the right bank of the river Chkheri (the left tributary of the river Tergi), at an elevation of 2170 meters, under Mount Kazbegi. This architectural complex from the XIV century is located in the village of Gergeti, 6 km from the town of Stepantsminda, at a height of 2200 m. The complex includes Holy Trinity Cathedral, constructed in the XIV century, the bell tower built in the XIV century, and clergy houses from the XV century. You can hike up to the complex in about two hours, hire a driver, or even rent a horse!
• Juta - The village of Juta is one of the highest settlements (2200 m) in the municipality of Kazbegi, and is located 24 km from Stepantsminda. The Chaukhi mountain range, located near the village, is situated on the main ridge of the Caucasus mountain range, at the source of the river Bakurkhevi. Juta will make you feel the beauty of the maountains.
Duration: 10 Hour
Recommended starting time: 8:00 am
Tour Distance: approx.: 350 km
We recommend to wear sports shoes or boots.
Tour Start Date