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We decided to get to Elbrus through stunningly beautiful and hospitable Georgia. We wanted to visit the famous Kazbegi mountain with its pyramidal top first, and then cross the Russian border. The route from the capital city Tbilisi to the Russian border was like this:

Our journey began from the bus station “Didube”, where we took the taxi for 80 GEL (26 EUR | Price in 2018). The trip was much more interesting than we expected. We stopped at ancient fortresses and churches, monuments and panoramas. A minibus would cost less, but then we would not have this opportunity to stop wherever and whenever we want to admire the breathtaking views.

The first stop was a medieval (13th century) small fortress or a castle called Ananuri with an incredible view of the mountains and the lake/river. It had two very dark churches inside with ancient decoration and half-destroyed frescoes.

Then we drove through the ski/winter sports resort Gudauri at the height of 2,196 m and stopped to admire the views of so-called Devil’s Valley from the brutalist concrete soviet monument of Russia – Georgia friendship. The monument was restored recently by the Georgian authorities. Georgian and Russian children, having fun running around the monument and their parents who actively busy photopgrahing them, gives the false impression of complete idyll and peace. But we know that the world is fragile: just recently there was a war between Russia and Georgia, the traces of which are still felt here and there.

After the 3.5-hours trip we got to Stepantsminda. This mini-town (rather, the village) is no different from similar gloomy, gray, Soviet cities with a large highway in the middle full of taxi drivers and “marshrutka”-men.

The only difference between Stepantsminda and other Soviet uglocities is the picturesque mountains around and the sweet little church hanging above Stepantsminda, as if an arrow pointing the way to Kazbeg. Only for the sake of this church and the nature around it, it is worthwhile to visit Stepantsminda.

Unfortunately, we had a limited time and we could not get to the very glaciers, as we initially planned, but a small hike proved to be an excellent end to a long day.

The next day brought the most difficult and long border crossing in my life and a long conversation with the FSB of Russia …

Costs (September, 2018):

Taxi to Stepantsminda – 80 GEL (26 EUR)

Guest House in Stepantsminda – 20 GEL (6.5 EUR)

Drinks and food on the road – 20 GEL (6.5 EUR)

Dinner in Stepantsminda – 60 GEL (20 EUR)


Total: 180 GEL (around 60 EUR) for two people

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