Sunday, February 2, 2014

Kazbegi Georgia

The Caucasus Mountains is a range of mountains stretching through Eurasia, and one of the easiest ways to visit part of the mountains is through the town of Stepantsminda in Georgia, more commonly known as Kazbegi.

Respite in glorious mountain scenery

Just about 3+hours northeast from Tbilisi, Kazbegi sits at an altitude of about 1750m, and is an excellent mountain getaway. Most prominently, Mt Kazbek rises beautifully west of town, and together with Gergeti Trinity Church, perched atop the surrounding mountain at 2000+m, forms an almost iconic image of Kazbegi and Georgia.

Tsminda Samebis Church, with Mt Kazbek as backdrop

Gergeti Trinity Church, also known as Tsminda Samebis Church, can be easily visited by jeeps from town, but the best way is probably taking a hike up. In fact, many travelers come here for the wonderful trekking opportunities, and even the short hike up provided a glimpse of the scenic potential. And for the slightly more hardy, you can even trek further into the mountains to the Gergeti Glacier. For multi-day treks, make sure you are properly equipped.

Trekking in awesome mountain country
Summer wildflowers and snowcapped mountains

Reaching the Gergeti Trinity Church
View of the town of Kazbegi, surrounded by mountains!

The town itself is small and easily covered by foot. There are two museums in town, one of which is dedicated to the man who the town is named after - Alexander Kazbegi, a famed Georgian writer. However, the magic of the place is still the mountain scenery, and so hiking and trekking would be the best activities I would think. To make a mountain town stay complete, stay in one of the many homestays and guesthouses available. Most come with great homecooked food, and I enjoyed staying in these locals' homes. The moment you stepped off the marshrutka, you would be accosted by the owners, so no worries about finding them.

By public transport, reaching Kazbegi from Tbilisi is via marshrutkas from Didube station. For a group of you, perhaps it is better to charter your own vehicle as the journey there goes through the spectacular Georgian Military Highway, and you can have your own photo stops. Whichever the case, a trip to Kazbegi is highly recommended for visitors to Georgia/Tbilisi, and for the matter, a daytrip would probably not do the place justice. Do yourself a favor and enjoy Kazbegi!

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