If you are a fan of long trails turning around the mountain peaks, giving you beautiful and breathtaking views, Georgia is the place for you. Known for its amazing landscapes, Georgia is one of the countries I really want to go back to and hike more.
We did not have too much time as we were traveling from one place to another and most of the hikes that we really wanted to do were too long. But, to be in Georgia and not to do at least few good hikes is a crime so here is what we did and what we think about them.
Hike to Gergeti Glacier on Mount Kazbek
You have two choices here – either make your hike longer and start from the city or you can take a ride up to the Trinity Church. The trail up to the glacier begins behind the church so many people actually decide on driving up to the parking lot and start from there. It can get very windy so make sure to take appropriate clothing. During our hike I was changing my clothes all the time because one minute I was super warm and the next minute I was too cold because of the wind.
This hike starts near Stepantsminda, a small-ish town in Mtskheta-Mtianeti region. It’s very close to the Russian border, so you can see loads of people from Russia coming to the town, for one reason or another. Being so close to the border, it also sees loads of truck traffic carrying goods, so stay careful while on the road. No heavy traffic happens within the town, but, you can never be too careful.
We agreed on starting from out apartment in the city since that was the only longer hike during this trip we were doing and we wanted to enjoy it more. I’m not going to lie – I wasn’t in a great shape and the trail up to the church was pretty steep which means I was already super tired before we even got to the path towards the glacier. I use to complain a lot during my hikes but at the same time I am grateful to anyone who is with me and keep me going because in the end it is always worth it.
The round trip from the city center to the glacier is 20,4 km which doesn’t seem much but you can definitely feel the elevation – minimum elevation is 1770 m which can be exhausting. The path leads you through beautiful hills and mountains. The trail is marked very well so there is no way of getting lost, plus once you are on the path, it goes basically one way.
Our plan was to get to the glacier itself but we changed it a bit during the hike. We stopped at the top of the mountain pass (Sabertse pass) in front of the glacier. From there, it was about 5 km to get to the glacier itself and back but we just didn’t feel like we can make it. We spent some time up there resting, chilling and enjoying the beautiful views. The whole hike took us about 7 hours and we did around 15 km in total. Going down the mountain was definitely easier, as it usually is but right after we started going back I could feel altitude sickness. After few kilometers it passed but that made me realize how high up in the mountains we actually were.
At the end of the day, as I said before, we hiked about 15km, give or take, but what impresses me the most is that we gained about 1200 meters of elevation to get to the pass. None of us actually had such an experience before, and we were so tired we slept like babies that night!
I had to put a lot of energy into that hike but it was one of the most amazing hikes I have ever done and I definitely recommend it to everyone! Just, be ready for the mountain to kick your butt in the process of hiking it!
This is one of the shortest and easiest hikes. It is located about 50 km from Kutaisi. The entry was 17 GEL which was, realistically, way too much. The hike takes about 2h round trip, it leads you through a forest and on your way you can meet pigs, cows and bulls (you can even be followed by one of them, true story!).
After about 40 minutes of walking you reach the bridge built above the canyon. The narrow path will take you to the last point from where you can see the whole canyon in all its glory. If you are scared of heights, maybe this hike won’t be your cup of tea. The views from the bridge are amazing but it takes courage to go up to the edge, even though everything is secured with a fence.
Third hike that was on our list was a 3-hour-long walk to the glacier. It is located next to the city of Mestia (which by the way is an adorable small city so if you are somewhere close, you should definitely spend some time there!). There is a parking for cars, right in front of the bridge which will take you across the river where the trail starts. The hike is not difficult although at the beginning you need to climb up a little bit. The path leads you through a forest (sounds familiar?) so for nature lovers this, just as any other hike in Georgia, is just perfect.
After about 1,5h you get to the place with huge stones where you can sit and admire the glacier in front of you. Or you can add around 30 min of walking and actually get to the glacier itself. We started our hike pretty late and since we didn’t want to go back in the dark, we didn’t go up to the glacier. But if you have time, it would definitely not be a waste of time.
Vardzia – the ancient city
We mentioned Vardzia in our last post. Visiting that place is not much of a hike but you are walking around the whole place and since it is built on a hillside, I will count it as a hike. And I decided to include it here as well because I think it’s worth visiting.
Jordan has Petra and Georgia has Vardzia – in a way both places are similar in terms of cultural importance but at the same time completely different. We had only about 2h for visting this place but seeing how people lived and in what conditions makes you wonder. Just like Petra, the city was carved into the sandstone in the mountain. Unlike Petra, the carvings are not as precise and huge, at least, not any more. It’s said that this city was inhabited until about 4000 years ago.
I always say that we are extremely lucky while we are traveling – and so we were this time. The guy responsible for closing the place started chatting with us and he decided to show us some places inside that were already closed for tourists, just like that, without hoping for a payment (have I mentioned it before that Georgian people are big on hospitality?). It’s nice to be in the right place at the right time!
There are lots of amazing hikes in Georgia, we will definitely come back one day to explore more of this beautiful country. Have you ever been there? Maybe you have your favorite hikes? Let us know!
Stay tuned for next posts and follow our footprints!