My friend here in Georgia, Teona, asked me if I wanted to go to Kazbegi. Of course!
I had no idea where it was or what was there, but it had a nice ring to it. So we started off with friend Bako and Teona’s parents in tow. It took about 2.5 hours to get there from Tbilisi, but the scenery along the way distracts you from the time it takes.
On the way to Kazbegi there is a lookout point. It was a nice place to take a break, and the Soviet-constructed lookout was interesting on its own. It was a mural depicting Georgian history, though I couldn’t follow it.
Parked at the lookout were many historical vehicles participating in the 12,000km/7500mi long Silk Road Rallye. The roads in this part of the world aren’t great, so I am thoroughly impressed that these classic cars can traverse the incredible challenges faced between Istanbul and Shanghai. I think if I ever do some kind of really long travel adventure again, I love the idea of hitting the open road and being able to stop wherever I want – especially if I have diarrhea.
While at the lookout I tried on a papaha, a wool hat men wear throughout the Caucuses. They are very warm, and let’s be honest… They look awesome! I made friends with the vendor selling these hats as well as my love, churchkhela.
Hiking To Gergeti Trinity Church
We went in Teona’s car, but getting to this church proved harder than expected. The roads are full of rocks and at one steep point we just couldn’t advance any farther. Teona went back down to find a taxi, but in the end a tour guide who doubles as an expert driver took the wheel and got up the hill with no problem.
In the meantime we set off on foot to get there. The town of Kazbegi is 1740m/5710ft high and this church is 2170m/7120ft high. We didn’t have to ascend the entire elevation, but it was an intense hike. Once we got to the top, it was incredibly windy. I was afraid my glasses would blow off, and while jumping for joy, as you’ll see below, the wind would push me back noticeably while up in the air. It was pretty crazy.
This church is from the 14th century and is built in the simple Orthodox style I have come to genuinely appreciate. From the church I think you could see Russia. It’s only 10km/6mi from there, but I think you can’t see it directly because the mountains block seeing Russian soil. The star of the show is Mt. Kazbegi, which is Georgia’s 3rd highest mountain and the 7th highest in The Caucuses at 5,033 m (16,512 ft)
Instead of hiking, you can ride a horse up to the top. The last time I got up on a horse I thought I wouldn’t be able to have kids anymore. I’m glad I went on foot, though the horse was beautiful.
After the hike and exploring the area, it was time to relax a bit. We went to a nice hotel and had some coffee. Well, I had some soup too since I’m always hungry. They had tomato soup that was freshly made. The tomatoes here in the Caucuses (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan) are the best in the world. As you might expect, the tomato soup I had was the best I’ve ever had.
The weather was perfect, the scenery breathtaking, and the air fresh as can be. It was truly a wonderful day and the perfect introduction to how beautiful this part of the world is.