After a few days back in the heat in Tbilisi, I was ready to hit the mountains again. Luckily, no crazy marshutka rides are required to get to Kazbegi - it's an easy two to three hour trip from the city. An Australian girl I met at the hostel was also traveling this way, so we were able to combine forces with an Azeri couple and get a private taxi for just 20 lari a piece (~$9). The taxi was a nice option because it stopped at a few sites along the way.

The Georgian-Russian Friendship Monument, in the middle of nowhere

Why you really stop at the monument. 

I stayed at a guesthouse that seemed to be THE place in Kazbegi for young-ish travelers - a big communal dinner table meant that it was easy to find buddies for whatever activity you wanted to do the next day.

Day 1: Tsminda Sameba Church and Gergeti Glacier

Tsminda Sameba (also known as Gergeti Trinity Church) is one of Georgia's best-known images - a 14th-century church set atop a hill at 2200m, with Mt Kazbek in the background. Of course, we couldn't see Mt Kazbek the day we were there, but it was still beautiful.

After the church, it's another few hours hike and about 1000m total elevation gain to get to a viewpoint where you can see the Gergeti glacier and (if you're lucky, which we weren't) the whole mountain peak.

I like to try the local version of Pringles in every country I go to. 

Mt Kazbek

Jumping shot with my hiking pals. I always manage to jump from a spot that's lower than everything else.

Day 2: Juta

We formed a multinational crew for a day trip to Juta - Dutch, Australian, Israeli and me, nearly always the lone American. Juta's a very small village outside of Kazbegi, accessible by 4-wheel drive. From there, you can do a day hike up the valley to see Mt Chaukhi, or, if you're more ambitious than we were, you can start a trek from here that will take you over several mountain passes and into a very isolated region.

Day 3: The Russian border and waterfalls

Most of the group from the day before got a car again to take us to a waterfall hike near the Russian border, which is only about 15km from Kazbegi. We were driving along and look up and suddenly realize - we are driving straight for the border. Was I supposed to bring my passport? (wouldn't matter - only Russians are allowed through this border that crosses into Chechnya). Luckily the driver pulled a U-turn right before we got to the barbed wire. I guess it was just part of the tour?

A short hike took us to a beautiful fall that we had almost entirely to ourselves.

Where to stay:
Nazi Chkareuli's guesthouse - it's a hive of activity. Rooms are basic and a little cramped, but dinners are good and are served on a terrace with mountain views. 35 lari/night for a dorm bed, including breakfast and dinner. Nazi can also arrange drivers for day trips or rides to Tbilisi.

View from Nazi's porch.


  1. Somehow I missed this post! What sort of food did you get at the guesthouse? Was a little more "authentic," whatever that means, than in the city? Also, Russia is ugly.

  2. Ha, I'm sure Russia is lovely away from the barbed wire. Border crossings are never pretty.

    At this guesthouse, dinner usually started with a soup, and then there was a main meat dish, a vegetable dish (usually eggplant in some form), a cucumber and tomato salad and bread. The best meal was a garlic fried chicken with a tomato and onion-stuffed bread thing. Also the tomato-rice-cilantro soup was awesome.

    The best part of meals, though, was the apple jam. Nazi makes it with apples from her yard, and it's really more like apple sauce - barely sweet, a little chunky. We asked for it as dessert every night after dinner, and had it for breakfast with bread and butter too.

  3. Ignorant question, does Georgia have trees??

    1. Ha, it does! The Great Caucuses mountains are pretty high, so often I'm taking pictures above the tree line. I'll try to get pictures of trees for you! :-)


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