-despite its small size (69,700 square kilometers) sustains a remarkable diversity in terms of fauna, flora, and landscape. One can find here subtropical marshes, sea coast, semi-deserts, volcanic plateaus as well as alpine meadows; topped by 5000-meter mountains. Georgia-Caucasus, the melting pot of Europe and Asia, can be called an underdeveloped Switzerland, with some stress on "underdeveloped". It is not to discourage you from visiting, but rather to keep the expectations right.
Georgia is really beautiful, with breathtaking views, mountain-top fortresses, towers and ancient churches, cave cities and remote villages lost in the mountains, but above all full of hospitable and friendly people. You will experience the friendliness already at the airport, where a smiling officer will tell you "Welcome to Georgia-Caucasus" while stamping your passport. You will appreciate it even more if you have ever traveled to any other former Soviet Union country before... ;-) Unfortunately tourist infrastructure is still underdeveloped and in some places you can feel an echo of the Soviet times - roads are often bad if existent at all, signs are not always obvious, services offered are very limited and sometimes of poor quality. However the situation is improving - new roads are built, old renovated it is easier to find a decent hotel, there are Tourist Information Centers offering maps of the region in most of the touristic towns. Georgia has a lot of potential in the field of tourism and travel. Hikers, backpackers, mountaineers, bird-watchers, bikers, beach lovers, sightseers, wine and food connoisseurs... Come and see what Georgia has to offer for you. Administratively Georgia is divided into 9 regions 1 independent city of Tbilisi and 2 autonomous republics: Ajaraand Abkhazeti. On the left-hand side menu, you can find some useful tips about what to see ("Regions") and where to stay ("Hotels in Georgia") in all the regions of Georgia. The only region not included is Abkhazeti, which is difficult to access for tourists.
Our traveling started from Mtskheta-Mtianeti region. This is a region starting North of Tbilisi and going up to the Greater Caucasus mountains and the border with Russia. The regional capital city is Mtskheta, located at the confluence of two rivers: Aragvi and Kura (Mtkvari in Georgian). Mtskheta takes a very important place in Georgian history - it used to be the capital city of Georgia between 3rd century BC and 5th century AD, it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, it was the place of the proclamation of Christianity as a state religion in 337 AD. In recognition of its significance for the world culture, it was declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. The town was recently renovated, so one can have a really nice walk around it now. While Mtskheta is definitely a compulsory destination for any visitor, Mtskheta-Mtianeti region offers much more to see. The picturesque military road of Georgia, which stretches from Tbilisi to the Russian border, runs across this region, country's main ski resort, Gudauri, is here, one can find glaciers, lakes, alpine meadows and unforgettable Greater Caucasus' peaks ascending in the North of the region. The region also offers amazing locations for mountain biking, horse riding, bird watching, paragliding and rafting, all giving stunning views of the landscape.
The first-day tour included a short walk around Mtskheta city and short stay at Steptasminda. Stepantsminda is a small town in the Mtskheta-Mtianeti region of north-eastern Georgia and it is the center of the Kazbegi Municipality. The main attraction here is, of course, Kazbegi Mountain.
Kazbegi National Park - located on the northern slopes of the mighty Caucasus range and its protected area covers a total of over 8,700 hectares. At 5,047 meters above sea level, Kazbegi Mountain (Georgian name: Mkinvartsveri, meaning "top of the glacier") is the third highest mountain in Georgia and is surrounded in myth and religious history. According to the Greek myth, as a punishment for teaching mankind how to make fire, the Titan Prometheus was chained to a mountainside in the Caucasus for all eternity. According to Georgian stories, it was the icy slopes of Kazbegi to which he was chained. Prometheus (known as Amirani in Georgia) was apparently imprisoned in a cave 4,000 meters up. The cave, now called Betlemi (Bethlehem), later served as a dwelling for orthodox monks and was said to contain many sacred relics, including Abraham’s tent and Christ’s manger. Hot springs, acidic and carbonated lakes surround the mountain, and earth tremors are fairly frequent. Covered with 135 square kilometers of the glacier, Kazbegi is a great place for ice climbing and mountaineering The Darial Gorge is an almost impossibly steep cleft in the mountains connecting Russia and Georgia, running for 18km from Stepantsminda to the Russian border at Zemo Larsi. For millennia, this mountain passage has been strategically crucial and has been fortified since at least 150 BC. In places, the cliff faces are more than 1,000m high, and medieval watchtowers, waterfalls, and wildlife make this one of the most incredible roads in the world. The steep valleys either side of the gorge are great places for bird watching. Eagles, hawks and the massive griffon vultures all nest among the rocky outcrops. (source: georgia.travel)
To climb to the top of the glacier you have to spend the night here. The choice of hotels and guest houses are scarce, but you can find something suitable. The price for hotel rooms might be very high and the service might not meet your expectations. Well, I do not want to distract your attention with the hospitality questions. Everything is up to you. You can spend the night in a tent but be aware that you will not find any campsite in this region. There are three ways to climb to the top of the mountain:- by vehicle, by feet, by horses. We have chosen horse riding. Horses are not trained, obstinate with character, so be careful. As soon as the horse smells weakness it starts leading you. In my case, the horse galloped. Only the tree branches could stop it and, of course, my extremely strong hug that almost strangled the horse. Besides, the prices for horse riding are very high. You have to negotiate. The tourist here is the main and sometimes the only income source. Anyway, the views from the top are amazing. The place is recommended.