I’m obsessed with mountains so when we realised we could reach the snow capped peaks of Georgia for my birthday we made it happen. We had to catch a shared taxi from Yerevan in Armenia to Tbilisi in Georgia, take the subway across the city and then a Marshrutka to Stepantsminda, taking a total of 9 hours. It was drizzling with rain when we arrived and bitterly cold for our summery attire. A short walk led us up a hill to our lovey little guesthouse. The big peaks were hidden from view due to the clouds but we could tell it was going to be a cracking spot in good weather. The room was perfect with huge windows, a comfy bed, clean bathroom and a jolly host who lived downstairs. Our neighbour was an American guy called Tim who was very easy to talk to so we ended up spending many hours chatting with him.
I woke up on my birthday and pulled back the curtains to reveal the fabulous view. It was a little cloudy to begin with but Mount Kazbegi, the snow-capped beast rising 5054m was visible and that’s the best part about the view. We had a lovely balcony outside our room where we ate porridge and sipped hot coffee while admiring the view. Clouds were drifting in and out and the Gergeti Trinity Church which sits on a hill above town had a fabulous snowy mountain backdrop.
After breakfast we headed down to the village, crossed the raging, grey river and headed up through Gergeti village where we followed a track through a valley. The route was leading us up to the church and eventually we’d be hiking towards Gergeti Glacier. The temperature was perfect, a little hot on the way up but we cooled down quickly and at times we even had to wear our coats.
We got some great views of Kazbegi on the way up but by 10am cloud started building up and it hid beneath a big white blanket for the rest of the day. We got some great views of the church on the way up and then continued on a steep track to a lush green ridge. We had 360° mountain views and while the biggest peaks were topped with clouds the lower ones had clouds drifting below them. We hiked all the way up until we got a view of the glacier ahead of us.
There was a big mountain hut too and low cloud still covering the mountains. The hike continued up to the glacier itself however we didn’t feel the need to walk anymore, we had a great view already and the glacier was rather dirty looking compared to the magical blue ones we witnessed in Patagonia.We’d hardly seen anyone on the hike but as we stopped for a picnic groups of people began walking up. They may of been heading on an expedition up Mount Kazbegi, walking across the glacier on the way to the top.
The hike back down offered us more fabulous views with jagged peaks and horses galloping across the rolling green hills. It was a really nice hike to do on my birthday and considering it was 22km with 1200m elevation gain we found it quite easy. Maybe because we haven’t hiked in awhile so our legs were fresh or maybe because it was cool weather.
We decided to have a birthday dinner at The Rooms, the fanciest restaurant in town. It sits on a hill and is covered in windows so the views incredible. It was really busy inside and the tables were a terrible design as they had a mirrored top so the low evening sun bounced off them and glared into our eyes, I had to wear sunglasses the whole time! Service was pretty slow just like everywhere in Georgia, I ordered a falafel burger which was way too overpowering with herbs and pickles but Craig had the meat burger and enjoyed it. Sadly his belly didn’t enjoy it and he ended up having diarrhoea for the next couple of days. Just goes to show, paying the extra money doesn’t mean the kitchen is any cleaner.
Another hike we did from the village was up a random hill with a faint track. It was a steep climb but we soon arrived on a plateau and the views of Kazbegi were phenomenal. The weather was the best we’ve had, without a cloud in sight and we were soon walking amongst flower filled meadows.
It was such a beautiful route, bursting with colour and a huge variety of flowers. Vultures were flying overhead as we persevered up to a distant hill-top. From there we stood on the edge of another valley where Kazbegi rose at the back. But just like our guidebook promised the peak soon became enshrouded by cloud. It was such a lovely hike though and we’re very glad we met Tim as he recommended this route after a day of rambling up random hills.