Hiking to Georgia’s Gergeti Trinity Church

One of the most iconic images from the country of Georgia features the Gergeti Trinity Church dwarfed by immense mountains. This 14th-century church is crowned with cone-shaped towers and is located in the heart of the Caucasus. It’s just a few kilometers from the Russian border.

Shortly before the pandemic started, Shawn and I spent four months in Georgia. Our longtime friends were living in the capital city of Tbilisi, so it was an easy decision to base ourselves there so we could maximize our time together. Being in Georgia’s capital city, Shawn and I also got to enjoy a variety of experiences.

One night, our friends joined us at Tbilisi’s elegant opera house to see Abesalom and Eteri. This opera is one of Georgia’s most beloved performances. (Incredibly, the tickets started at a very reasonable USD $3). 

Shawn and I also served as volunteer ambassadors with two up-and-coming cooking class hosts, Dinara and Mzia. The ladies welcomed us into their homes and taught us how to make colorful and flavorful Georgian dishes such as Pkhali, Khachapuri, and Lobio.

During the grape harvest, we took a day trip to the Georgian wine region of Kakheti and sampled amber wine from a qvevri, an egg-shaped, terracotta vessel.

Another day, we got our annual dental cleanings with a competent and pleasant dentist. Her knowledge and equipment were current. However, her clinic’s dusty rose and seafoam-green décor made us feel like we’d traveled back to when Georgia was part of the Soviet Union.

We also hiked to the Gergeti Trinity Church on a warm autumn day. We ended up timing this excursion well, as snow would blanket the Caucasus just a few days after our hike.

A Hair-Raising Journey from Tbilisi to Kazbegi

The Gergeti Trinity Church is located near the town of Kazbegi. (If you’re feeling more linguistically intrepid, the church is actually called Tsminda Sameba or წმინდა სამება in Georgian.) To confuse matters further, Kazbegi is also known as Stepantsminda

We didn’t find the two-hour uphill hike to the church to be demanding. However, the three-hour ride from Tbilisi to Kazbegi was grueling! We rode in a marshrutka, a type of minivan that’s common in Georgia and often overflowing with passengers.

But it wasn’t the close quarters that proved to be stressful. Instead, it was our driver’s penchant for race-car-like driving. He regularly overtook vehicles. Sometimes, it felt like there was just an arm’s length between our marshrutka and the oncoming traffic (usually a truck!) coming towards us. Other motorists responded by honking their horns or by flashing less-than-friendly hand gestures.

The scenery along the Georgian Military Highway was superb. Everywhere we turned, craggy mountains surrounded us. We also spotted flocks of fleecy sheep, centuries-old fortifications, and colorful yurts. But, I couldn’t fully appreciate the scenery when it felt like our marshrutka was going to careen off the curvy road.

About half-way to Kazbegi, we stopped for a quick break at a rest stop that hugged the edge of a mountain slope. Vendors stood guard by tables filled with hand-knitted hats and mittens, jars of honey, and vibrant churchkela. This sweet snack is candle-shaped and playfully dubbed “Georgian Snickers.” However, while churchkela and Snickers both have nuts, grape must (crushed grape skins and juice) usually takes the place of chocolate in the churchkela recipe.

Our driver took this break from his race-car driving to prop open the hood of the marshrutka and perform some sort of operation on the engine. His equipment — a paper cup and knife — didn’t do much to assure me that the next leg of our trip would keep us out of harm’s way.

I didn’t see any to-go bottles of chacha being marketed at the rest stop. However, perhaps enterprising merchants might consider selling this notoriously strong Georgian brandy to help ease the nerves of marshrutka passengers being whisked along the Georgian Military Highway.

Hiking to the Gergeti Trinity Church

When our marshrutka coasted into Kazbegi in one piece, Shawn and I wanted to kiss the ground to show our gratitude for making it there safely. It was midday, and since there wasn’t much daylight to spare, we scurried off to our guesthouse. We changed into our hiking clothes, grabbed the picnic lunch we’d brought with us from Tbilisi, and started the journey up to the church.

After the white-knuckle ride from Tbilisi to Kazbegi, the walk was just what I needed to relax. We left Kazbegi and were soon in the neighboring village of Gergeti. The trailhead for the climb to Gergeti Trinity Church greeted us on the outskirts of Gergeti.

Once we’d gained some elevation, we found ourselves near a crumbling stone watchtower. Off in the distance, we also spotted a shepherd and his flock. Occasionally, a bird of prey gracefully soared overhead. After being in Tbilisi — a city of more than one million people and seemingly even more cars — it was refreshing to be able to breathe in cool mountain air.

Eventually, we could see the pinkish-grey stone walls of the Gergeti Trinity Church not too high above us. This glimpse gave us the extra little nudge we needed to finish the last leg of the climb.

We didn’t spend much time inside the mystical, smoke-stained church. As I peered into the simple interior, adorned with icons and frescoes, I pondered how many thousands of candles pilgrims had lit inside over the centuries.

Leaving the crowd of tourists behind, Shawn and I found a quiet spot on the steep grassy slopes nearby and unpacked our picnic fare. Unbeknownst to us at the time, legendary Mount Kazbek was completely covered by an opaque veil of clouds. Even though we were missing the famous mountain, we still thought the scenery was pretty extraordinary.

Majestic Mount Kazbek

The next morning, as I stood on the balcony of our guesthouse and prepared myself for the ride back to Tbilisi, I let out an audible gasp as I saw Mount Kazbek for the first time. Snow-capped, with a bell-curve-like silhouette, the mountain towered over the Gergeti Trinity Church.

We felt fortunate that Mother Nature had lifted the cloud cover from the day before so we could savor the scene of the tiny church and the mighty mountain.

A street sign reading "Happy Journey" in English and in Georgian, is visible through the windshield of a minivan.
And so our journey begins: A sign on Tbilisi’s outskirts wishes us a “Happy Journey.” It’s appropriate that this picture is blurry and out of focus given how bumpy and frightening our fast-paced ride in the marshrutka was!
A brick church / fortress is visible through the window of a minivan in the Republic of Georgia. Two passengers also gaze out the window.
Whizzing by the scenic Jinvali Water Reservoir and the Ananuri Fortress. There are also several churches inside the complex.
A road curves around green mountain slopes in the Republic of Georgia. It is the Georgian Military Highway.
The curvy Georgian Military Highway and the majestic mountains of the Caucasus.
A table at a rest stop on the Georgian Military Highway is filled with handmade hats and socks, jars of honey, and red, brown, and yellow churchkhela treats.
Taking a break at a rest stop about halfway through our ride. Handmade hats and socks, honey, and churchkhela treats were on sale.
Men repairing a white van look under its hood (left). Several trucks climb a curvy, mountainous road on Georgia's Military Highway (right).
Perhaps the marshrutka’s engine was overheating or something even worse was happening. All I know is that the driver propped open the hood, and used a paper cup and knife to work his magic with the motor.
Two churches and a chalet-style house rest on a plateau among mountainous landscape near Gudauri Ski Resort in the Republic of Georgia.
A tiny church near the Gudauri Ski Resort.
Horses graze on green and straw-colored grass alongside the Georgian Military Highway.
Horses graze in the wide-open terrain.
The circular Russia–Georgia Friendship Monument rises from a green plateau. It is surrounded by steep greenish-reddish slopes and is located on the Georgian Military Highway.
The Russia–Georgia Friendship Monument is dwarfed by pink, green, and putty-colored slopes.
A front view of the Russia–Georgia Friendship Monument painted interior. It includes a red background and historic figures, some of whom are on horseback.
The colorful Russia–Georgia Friendship Monument was built in the 1980s.
A flock of sheep soaks up the sunshine and grazes alongside the Georgian Military Highway.
A flock of sheep soaks up the sunshine and grazes.
About 7 yurts (ranging in color from blue to orange) dot green mountainous slopes alongside the Georgian Military Highway.
Colorful yurts dot the landscape.
Clouds cast shadows on the green carpet-like slopes of the Caucasus.
Clouds cast shadows on the green, carpet-like slopes.
Construction men repair a stretch of road along the Georgian Military Highway. There are snow-capped mountain peaks and a stone watchtower off in the distance.
Construction men repair a stretch of road. Note the watchtower off in the distance.
The two towers of the Gergeti Trinity Church in Kazbegi, Georgia are visible. The sky is blue, with clouds, and the mountain slopes are yellowish-brown, with hints of green.
Our first sighting of the Gergeti Trinity Church. We didn’t consider it at the time, but Mt. Kazbek is actually behind those clouds. We didn’t see the mountain during our first day, due to cloud-cover.
Four cows (three brown, one black) walk alongside a main road near the town of Kazbegi / Stepantsminda, Georgia.
A string of cows walk along one of Kazbegi’s main streets.
Above a bench in Kazbegi, Georgi the wall is decorated with folk art figures, including adults, children, and a horse. A poster for Kazbegi quad tours also adorns the wall.
One of Kazbegi’s main streets: traditional art and a poster for Kazbegi quad tours.
An older woman dressed in black carries a green hose with the help of a young girl. They are walking in a Georgian village with stone houses.
A grandmotherly figure and a young child carry a hose through the village of Gergeti.
A woman and a man stand among mountain scenery in the Republic of Georgia. A cluster of houses are visible in the background, as are rugged mountain slopes.
Me and Shawn, with Gergeti behind us.
Hikers walk along an unpaved curvy road near Kazbegi, Georgia.
The scenery was marvelous from the beginning. Here, we’re looking at the path we’ve just walked up. I’m glad we took a moment to look behind us, because this scene was covered with clouds on our return trip back down a few hours later.
A bird of prey soars above the mountain slopes of the Caucasus. The background is an almost all-blue sky.
A bird of prey — perhaps a griffon vulture — soars above the mountain slopes.
The crumbling remains of a stone watchtower rise from a rocky outcrop in the Caucasus Mountains near the Gergeti Trinity Church. There is a blue sky overhead, with some clouds.
A ruined watchtower adds a dash of drama to the setting.
Left: A man dressed in black hikes up a mountain trail in Caucasus Mountains. Right: A couple sitting on a bench pauses to look at the steep mountain slopes that surround them.
Left: Shawn makes his way up the trail. Right: A couple pauses.
The path starts to get a bit more rugged.
A white and red trail rectangular symbol painted on a rock indicates the correct trail leading to the Gergeti Church near Kazbegi, Georgia.
A white and red trail marker shows us we’re on the right path. We’re nearing the top by now, and the Gergeti Church is just up to our right.
The dirt trail leading to the Gergeti Trinity Church in Kazbegi Georgia. The surrounding hillsides are covered with a yellowish-green grass, and the sky is mostly covered in clouds.
Continuing our ascent, we are surrounded by rolling hills that appear to be blanketed with a plush, 1970’s-era carpet.
Crisscrossing lines, possibly from rainfall and erosion, create an interesting pattern on a mountain slope near Kazbegi, Georgia.
I thought this mesh-like pattern “etched” into the slopes was beautiful.
Left: A purple thistle plant grows on a mountain slope near the Gergeti Trinity Church in Kazbegi, Georgia. Right: A man climbs up a semi-rocky path. There is a green mountain slope behind him.
Left: Purple thistle greets us toward the top. Right: Shawn.
About 10 hikers make their way down a trail. Georgia's Mount Kazbek is concealed by clouds.
Hikers make their way down a trail. Mount Kazbek is concealed by clouds.
The two rounded towers of the Gergeti Trinity Church rise from a grassy and rocky hilltop. In the background are the steep slopes of the Caucasus Mountains.
The Gergeti Trinity Church (also called Tsminda Sameba) was built in the 14th century.
A cross, as well as depictions of possibly a lizard or chameleon are carved into pinkish-beige stone of the Gergeti Trinity Church in Kazbegi, Georgia.
A cross, as well as whimsical symbols (lizards, chameleons?) are carved into part of the church’s pink, beige, and grey exterior.
Left: The tower and pinkish-beige wall of the Gergeti Trinity Church near Kazbegi, Georgia. Right: On a wall, an intricate circular symbol is carved. There is centuries-old graffiti below it.
Left: We noticed offerings left by religious pilgrims, including a cross made out of branches placed on this rocky wall. Right: An intricate carving with centuries-old graffiti below it.
In the photo on the left, a woman wearing a green headscarf walks past a doorway of the Gergeti Trinity Church in Georgia. On the right, a sign outside the church reads: "Smoking, photography, littering and writing on the walls are prohibited. Access to the church for men is allowed only in long pants. For women only in a dress. If needed, dresses can be provided. There are also symbols showing that littering, smoking, and photography are not allowed.
There is a dress code to enter the church (for both men and women), and photography is not permitted inside.
About 15 visitors stand on a rocky platform overlooking a mountainous backdrop near the Gergeti Trinity Church in Georgia. The sky is mostly cloudy.
Visitors standing near the church take in its mountainous backdrop.
A cluster of delicate purple flowers resembling lavender grows on the grassy slopes near the church.
A cluster of delicate purple flowers adds color to the grassy slopes. I’m not sure if lavender can grow at this elevation?
Two people (whose backs are facing the camera) look at the view from the Gergeti Trinity Church. Large mountains are visible off in the distance, and you an see the tiny town of Kazbegi below.
Mighty mountains tower over the town of Kazbegi (Stepantsminda).
Three hikers walk on a dirt path as they make their way up to the Gergeti Trinity Church. You can see the rooftops of Gergeti and Kazbegi below, and there is a green hilltop.
Hikers make their way down from the church. (This is not the path we took to get to the church. It’s said to be more steep.)
Two brown horses graze on the yellowish-green slopes of the Caucasus Mountains in Georgia. The Gergeti Trinity Church (near Kazbegi) is in the background.
Wild horses graze, with the church in the background.
A woman and man stand on the yellowish-green slopes of the Caucasus Mountains in Georgia. The Gergeti Trinity Church (near Kazbegi) is visible in the background.
Me and Shawn.
A car and a van drive up the grassy slopes near the Gergeti Trinity Church, marring the landscape. In the background are steep mountain slopes — some covered with a bit of snow.
Since there is a parking lot, we were surprised to see people driving on this grassy slope. There were lots of spinning tires, and unfortunately, the landscape was marred.
Five 4x4 minivans park in a concrete parking lot in front of Georgia's Gergeti Trinity Church.
Contrary to what you see in the promotional posters, the landscape is not all pristine at the top. Here, 4×4 vehicles drop off their passengers.
A shepherd wearing a red jacket looks after about 15 grazing sheep on the grassy slopes of a mountain in the Caucasus.
A shepherd looks after a flock of grazing sheep. By now, more clouds had rolled in, and things were starting to get cooler.
Left: Hikers walk down a path from the Gergeti Trinity Church. You can see a shepherd and his sheep in the background. Right: A pair of hikers is visible in silhouetted form on a curvy dirt path leading past a watchtower in the Caucasus Mountains.
Left: Hikers make their way down from the church. You can also see the shepherd and his sheep in the background. Right: The sky was more overcast during our hike back to Kazbegi. This made the light more filtered, giving the setting a soft, dreamy glow.
A man hikes down a rocky/dirt path alongside a stream in the Caucasus Mountains.
Shawn heads down the same path we walked on to get up to the church.
An overhead shot of a stream flowing down a mountain slope near Stepantsminda, Georgia.
A small mountain stream parallels the path.
A young boy rides a black horse on a sidewalk in the town of Kazbegi (Stepantsminda), Georgia. There are 2 tourism billboards on his right, and a house in the background.
Back in town, a boy rides a horse past promotional billboards.
Tourists, as well as three street dogs, walk on a road near Kazbegi's peach-colored taxi stand / marshrutka departure point. They are walking on a street undergoing construction.
A trio of homeless dogs walks on a road near Kazbegi’s peach-colored taxi stand / marshrutka departure point. We didn’t encounter any aggressive dogs while in Georgia, but it’s worth pointing out that a fair number do roam the streets. Some wear plastic ear tags, indicating that they’ve had veterinary care. We found it heartwarming that locals often feed them and give them some affection.
A brown and white cow walks on a street undergoing construction in Kazbegi, Georgia.
A cow checks out a street undergoing construction. In the background is a tiny food market.
The interior of a Kazbegi restaurant is decorated with a reddish-orange carpet wallhanging. A painting of a man hangs in one corner, over a black piano. Light-colored wood chairs are seated beside each table.
After our hike, we had dinner at this restaurant, which was owned by a Russian-speaking family. I yearned to play the piano that was tucked into a corner of the dining room.
The Gergeti Trinity Church is seen in silhouette form against a cloudy backdrop. Snowy Mount Kazbek is only partially visible.
When we got back to our guesthouse, I braved the chilly temps and sat on the balcony taking in this extraordinary view. I hoped that the clouds would eventually give way so that I could see Mt. Kazbek. I’d have to wait until the next morning.
A snowy Mt. Kazbek towers over the beige-colored towers of the Gergeti Trinity Church in Georgia.
If we thought the cloudy views of the tiny church were impressive the day before, you can imagine how thrilled we were to finally see Mt. Kazbek the next day. We felt so fortunate that we had a cloud-free morning. But since we had to catch a ride back to Tbilisi, we couldn’t admire the vista for too long. At 5,054 meters (16,581 feet), Mt. Kazbek is Georgia’s third-highest mountain. It’s also known as Mkinvartsveri.
Three minivans are parked by Kazbegi's taxi stand / marshrutka meeting point. The sign on the left indicates money exchange and says "RUB GEL Exchange." Another sign on the right shows the Tbilisi marshrutka schedule. It reads: "Tbilisi Marshrutka, 10 Gel. 7:00, 8:00, 9:00, 10:00, 11:00. 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00, 17:00, 18:00."
Marshrutkas waiting to transport passengers back to Tbilisi. The marshrutka departure schedule is posted on the upper right-hand side of the building.
A car parked on a grassy lawn near the Georgian Military Highway. There are greenish-brown mountain slopes in the background. A tiny house sits on one hilltop.
Not far from Kazbegi, the landscape opens up even more. If we’d had our own car, I would’ve loved to have had a picnic here.
A river flows through the valley below a mountain covered with green vegetation near the Georgian Military Highway.
Such majestic mountains.
Clouds had rolled in by the time we made it to the Russia–Georgia Friendship Monument.
A close-up view of the Russia-Georgia Friendship monument. The background is red, and there is an orange banner that says "1783, 1983." A woman holds a white dove and a child in her hands. Warriors seated on white horses are on either side, as are depictions of two church buildings.
The monument’s vibrant paintings add color to the now-monochrome landscape.
A close-up view of the right interior side of the Russia-Georgia Friendship monument. A man in a green uniform is at the center. He is flanked by female figures who are dressed in folk costume.
A man sells souvenir items at the Russia–Georgia Friendship Monument. On the table there are 3 rows of jarred honey stacked on one another, along with wool socks, fuzzy hats, and a cross-stitched purse.
A vendor displays jars of honey, wool socks, a cross-stitched purse, and fuzzy hats.
Cars drive on a curvy mountainous highway in Georgia. There is a wire cable guardrail, and steep, green-covered cliffs on the right.
Steep drop-offs on the Georgian Military Highway.

Where in the World?

Planning Pointers:

The Gergeti Trinity Church (also called Tsminda Sameba) is located near the town of Kazbegi (also called Stepantsminda). Tbilisi is about 145 km (90 miles) from Kazbegi / Stepantsminda.

Numerous tourism operators offer day trips from Tbilisi to Kazbegi. We were worried we’d be too rushed if we attempted this drive — and the hike — in one day. As a result, we decided to do the trip independently. We spent one night in Kazbegi.

We left Tbilisi around 08:00 on a Friday morning and took a marshrutka to Kazbegi. We arrived in Kazbegi around noon, dropped our stuff off at the guesthouse, and then hiked up to the church that same day. We were able to get back down to Kazbegi before dark, have dinner, and then warm up in our guesthouse. We left Kazbegi early the next morning and were back in Tbilisi by the afternoon.

The Georgian National Tourism Administration website has more information about Kazbegi and the Gergeti Trinity Church.

How to get from Tbilisi to Kazbegi:

To get from Tbilisi to Kazbegi, we took a marshrutka — a minivan shuttle that makes a given trip on a regular basis. The driver didn’t depart until the marshrutka was completely stuffed with passengers. In other words, it didn’t leave at a set time.

A one-way ticket from Tbilisi to Kazbegi cost 10 Lari per adult.

Our trip took just over 3 hours.

Marshrutkas heading to Kazbegi depart from the Didube Bus Station. Since we spoke only a few words in Georgian, we had a challenging time finding our way at this lively and crowded bus station. The destination signs placed in the windshields of the marshrutkas were mostly in Georgian.

Private taxi drivers approached us — sometimes rather aggressively — trying to get us to hire their more costly private taxis instead. One taxi driver even followed us around Didube Station as we tried to find the Tbilisi-Kazbegi marshrutka. The marshrutka was a fraction of the price that the private taxi driver was quoting.

Eventually, some helpful locals pointed us in the direction of the proper marshrutka. Even once we found the correct marshrutka, the aggressive taxi driver still shadowed us. He got into a heated discussion with the marshrutka driver. Fortunately, the marshrutka driver was straightforward with his pricing.

There were about 7 other passengers in our marshrutka. Some travelers were Georgian, others were international visitors like us. There were seat belts.

The scenery on the Georgian Military Highway was extraordinary. But I won’t sugar-coat the journey and make it sound like it was a tranquil one. In fact, it was occasionally frightening! The driver overtook vehicles at breakneck speeds — even around tight mountain passes with no visibility. At times, his driving angered other drivers that he overtook too closely. They responded by honking.

We had one break at a small rest-stop. It had a toilet (it’s a pay-to-pee-pee, so make sure you have spare Lari with you. It cost 1 Lari per person when we were there.) Outside, the rest stop was filled with stands selling refreshments, treats like churchkela, jars of honey, and homemade souvenirs such as wool socks.

When we arrived in Kazbegi, we had to muscle our way off the marshrutka. That’s because people were already waiting in line to get a seat for the trip back to Tbilisi. There were clearly too many passengers and not enough seats.

How to get from Kazbegi to Tbilisi:

Seeing how limited spots were on the Kazbegi-Tbilisi marshrutka the day before, we thought it was a good idea to arrive at Kazbegi’s marshrutka stop / taxi stand early the next morning. We got there at about 08:30. By this time, the marshrutka was already filling up. Our original plan was to take this marshrutka back to Tbilisi. However, the marshrutka didn’t have any seat belts and it already looked crowded.

We made the spontaneous decision to take a shared taxi back to Tbilisi, as opposed to a marshrutka.

The shared taxi had seat belts. It was also less crowded than the marshrutka. In total, there were only five of us in the vehicle, including the driver.

We split the fare with two other travelers. The ride cost 25 Lari per person.

Using Google Translate beforehand, we asked the driver to please drive slowly. We also asked if the ride could include a short stop at the Russia-Georgia Friendship Monument. He obliged. We were happy we spent a bit extra for this type of transport as the ride was much more relaxing than the day before.

Hiking to the Kazbegi Church:

Elevation: About 2,170 meters (about 7,119 feet).

Hiking: There are at least two well-traveled paths leading to the Gergeti Trinity Church.

We took the more gradual path, which paralleled a stream. The hike from the town of Kazbegi to the church took us 1.5 to 2 hours. We made numerous stops to admire the scenery and to take pictures. If you go straight up, you’ll probably be able to do the climb more quickly.

The trail was rocky in some spots. Parts of the trail were signed with painted markers (red and white painted rectangles).

We did the hike in mid-September. We’re glad we didn’t wait a few more weeks to do so, since it got pretty chilly that night. Days later, I saw that it had snowed in Kazbegi.

See this blog post for detailed instructions about the various paths.

Parking: When we hiked to the church, we noticed a small paved parking lot. It was full of mostly 4×4 tour vehicles. I’m not sure if individual drivers can park there or not.

Unfortunately, we also saw some vehicles off-roading to create their own parking in the meadow. The ground was moist, which resulted in spinning tires and a marred landscape.

Ticket prices:

When we visited in late 2019, there was no fee to enter the Kazbegi Church.

Dress code:

There is a dress code for entering the church. Men must wear long pants. Women must wear a dress or skirt. Near the entranceway, there are baskets full of sarongs. You can borrow one and tie it over your shorts or pants.

What to bring:

We didn’t have our trekking poles with us. However, they would’ve made the hike a bit easier — especially in spots where the path got rocky.

For our mid-September hike, we were happy we packed:

  • reusable bottles filled with a sufficient amount of drinking water
  • snacks for a picnic
  • sun protection, since we were at a higher elevation (sunglasses, sunscreen)
  • sturdy shoes (we wore running/walking shoes)
  • layered clothing, because the weather can change quickly
  • a scarf (for covering my head while inside the church)

Accommodation in Kazbegi:

We spent one night at Soso Burduli’s Guesthouse. It was cozy, clean, and modern, and the owner was friendly. We were especially pleased that the heater worked well, since Kazbegi’s nighttime temperatures got to be quite chilly. Our room didn’t have special views. However, the back of the guesthouse (west-facing, I believe) looked directly onto Mt. Kazbek and the Gergeti Trinity Church. Pretty magnificent!

Another advantage of the hotel was its proximity to Kazbegi’s bus stop / taxi stand as well as its town center. It only took 2-3 minutes to get there on foot.

Save to Pinterest

Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

Published by Tricia A. Mitchell

Tricia A. Mitchell is a freelance writer and a co-founder of Eloquence. Born in Europe but raised in the United States, she has lived in Valletta, Malta, as well as Heidelberg, Germany. An avid globetrotter who has visited more than 65 countries, she has a penchant for off-season travel. Tricia has learned that travel’s greatest gift is not sightseeing, rather it is the interactions with people. Some of her most memorable experiences have been sharing a bottle of champagne with distant French cousins in Lorraine, learning how to milk goats in a sleepy Bulgarian village, and ringing in the Vietnamese New Year with a Hanoi family. She welcomes any opportunity to practice French and German, and she loves delving into a place’s history and artisanal food scene. A former education administrator and training specialist, Tricia has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in international relations. She and her husband, Shawn, married in the ruins of a snowy German castle. They’ve been known to escape winter by basing themselves in coastal Croatia or Southeast Asia. Though they are currently nomadic, they look forward to establishing a European home someday. Her writing has appeared in Fodor’s Travel, Frommer’s, and International Living.

34 thoughts on “Hiking to Georgia’s Gergeti Trinity Church

    1. Hi Jo! As we drove through these magnificent landscapes, I felt “happy tears” emerge at least once or twice. Shawn and I feel immensely fortunate to have had this adventure in the Caucasus before the pandemic started. We’re looking forward to getting back out on the open road — perhaps sometime later this year.

      Thank you for your kind comment and wishes for a happy 2021. I wish you all the best too.

  1. What a fantastic post, Tricia. Enjoyed every step although I was exhausted by the time we made it to the church!!! Thanks for sharing.

    On Sun, Jan 3, 2021 at 6:39 AM Travels with Tricia wrote:

    > Tricia A. Mitchell posted: ” One of the most iconic images from the > country of Georgia features the Gergeti Trinity Church dwarfed by immense > mountains. This 14th-century church is crowned with cone-shaped towers and > is located in the heart of the Caucasus. It’s just a few kilometer” >

    1. Hi Mary Ann, thanks for traveling along with us in spirit! Our hike only took a few hours, and for some travelers to this area, this tiny church is just the first stop during a longer adventure. Some hikers continue upward for an all-day trek to the glacier below Mount Kazbek: https://www.caucasus-trekking.com/treks/kazbegi-hike-to-glacier I think Shawn and I will have to train a bit more for that one — and perhaps bring our trekking poles. :)

    1. Darlene, it is a fascinating spot. Given the area’s rugged terrain, I’m in awe that people managed to build these elevated structures more than 600 years ago.

      Wishing you a wonderful 2021 that is full of health, joy, and new adventures! In the meantime, we have the gift of reminiscing about past trips.

  2. Sounds spectacular! Georgia is one of the destinations we hope to get to when travel restrictions ease. Your wonderful descriptions make me even more eager to go.

    1. Hi Bobbi, when you start planning your trip to the Caucasus, please feel free to send any questions my way. While in Georgia, Shawn and I also made weeklong trips to neighboring Armenia and Azerbaijan. The overnight trips to get to those two countries (via Soviet-era trains) are worthy of their own posts thanks to the interesting people we met along the way.

      It’s worth pointing out that we visited before the recent conflict in AZ and AR, however, we did not visit the contested territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. You can’t travel overland between AR and AZ, so Georgia makes a great hub for exploring the other two countries.

      Happy 2021 to you and Jeremy! Thanks for stopping by.

    1. Hi Henry, glad you enjoyed this peek at Georgia. I’m sure I’m feeling like most people are in the world right now: looking forward to socializing again, going to museums and events, and doing a bit of exploring too. In the meantime, I feel fortunate to have many wonderful travel moments — such as this one in Georgia — to reminisce about. I’m guessing you’ve probably been reflecting upon some of your trips to Germany these past months. Do you already have a rough itinerary lined up for when travel is safe again?

      A very happy new year to you!

  3. Tricia and Shawn, I am just mesmerized by these pictures and the hike you took, it’s an adventure by itself to follow you on these paths. The landscape and the mountain are just majestic and the church itself. Thank you so much for sharing, it brought me much Joy and hopefully travelling will be possible again after this pandemic, when ever that might be. I like to recommend a book of a world traveler to you, but I will send it to you on FB messenger, have to look up the title. Be blessed and stay safe my friends from afar.

    1. Cornelia, I’m happy this glimpse of Georgia’s majestic mountains brought you joy. Your kind words made me smile — much welcomed on a cloudy day. :)

      Since you’re originally from Oberbayern, I’m curious if you’ve made it up to Germany’s Zugspitze? As we rode through the mountainous landscape of the Caucasus, there were times when I was reminded of the Alps. But the flora was distinct from what I remember in the Alps. I think the vegetation blanketing the mountains on the way to Kazbegi looked rather velvety.

      When you get a chance, I’d love to hear what book you recommend. Wishing you much happiness in 2021!

      1. Hi Tricia, it’s always such a pleasure to hear from you. I must admit that I never made it up to the Zugspitze, maybe one of these days when I’ll be able to visit Germany again. I think one of the reasons was, that I’m not into being in crowds on a mountain at all. But when I was young , I climbed to the Aplspitze, that was a great adventure. I have to apologize that I didn’t get to write you the title of the book I had mentioned to you earlier, it took me some time to remember it’s title, “Senior moments”. So here it is: Shivya Nath , The Shooting Star… A girl, her backpack and the world. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Happy reading and take care .

      2. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve been up to the Zugspitze. If I did, it was when I was a child. As for the Alpspitz, I’ve heard that the new x-shaped viewing platform is thrilling. I’m not sure I’d have the courage to step out on it. :)

        I’m heading to our library now to see if they have a digital copy of the book you recommended. Thanks so much for thinking of me, Cornelia!

    1. Hi Carol, ironically, it was a frightening private taxi ride we’d had when we first arrived in Georgia that made us think the minivan (marshrutka) would be a safer option for this trip to Kazbegi. :) We hoped that someone driving a minivan might be less inclined to speed than a private driver wanting to maximize his number of trips. In the end, we found it was hit or miss with the private drivers — even when we asked them to drive at a reduced speed before we got into the car. Some were more than happy to do so, others got into race-car driver mode once we were underway.

      Another option in Georgia is train travel, which is probably my favorite mode of transport. We took the train whenever possible, but Georgia’s connections are limited. I do think that as more and more travelers head to Georgia, we’ll see less minivans and more big buses. Hopefully that’ll lead to less road accidents and fatalities.

      Wishing you a wonderful 2021!

    1. Margaret, wonderful indeed. I felt especially fortunate to have had the time to actually climb to the top, rather than drive up on a quick tour. It left me with even greater respect for these imposing mountains.

  4. People who lived hundreds even thousands of years ago really did know how to pick a perfect spot to build places of worship. What a majestic location the Gergeti Trinity Church is situated! Just by looking at your photos I can imagine how fresh the air must have been when you were there. Lucky you and Shawn got to visit this beautiful corner of Georgia right before international travel restrictions were imposed.

    1. So true about them picking the ideal spots, Bama. Interestingly enough (according to our Lonely Planet guidebook), a cable car was constructed here during Soviet times. The locals reputedly thought it marred this sacred landscape, so they destroyed it. I wasn’t able to see any signs of the cable car during our hike.

      I hope you’re staying well, despite the pandemic. How are things there? I recently saw a news piece about Indonesia’s vaccination program. As I recall, it said that Indonesia is focusing on vaccinating its working-age population first. Here’s hoping we’ll all be able to return to some kind of normalcy in the near future.

      Enjoy the rest of the weekend, and thanks for taking the time to share your thoughtful comment. :)

      1. Unfortunately, things keep getting worse here. The government is now focusing on vaccinating health workers and some “influencers”, purportedly to convince people that the vaccines are safe. Then, starting at end of April it’s the working-age population’s turn.

        Are you still living in Europe? How are the vaccination arrangements for non-Europeans there?

        Have a nice and relaxing weekend too, Tricia!

      2. I’m sorry to hear that things are getting worse, Bama. Wishing you good health until you can get vaccinated! As for things in Europe, the vaccines are rolling out very slowly. We are in the midst of researching what the protocol is for getting vaccinated. Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of confusion — even among local residents.

  5. Hello Tricia, I had a blast “hiking” with you and Shawn up the mountains to Georgia’s Gergeti Trinity Church. What a fantastic trip. Did you really have to wear a dress? :) Hope 2021 is a much better year so you can continue to travel the world. Happy New Year!

    1. Hi Zlatica, I’m glad you enjoyed the virtual hike. :) The “dress” they mention in the sign outside the church is really more like an apron or a sarong that you can wear over your clothes. That sign did make me smile as I was looking back at the photos, though. You can see some visitor just couldn’t resist editing the sign’s English. It’s unfortunate that the Georgian equivalent wasn’t nearby, as the Georgian script is lovely.

      Thank you for your thoughtful new year’s greetings. May you and your family also have a wonderful 2021!

  6. Dearest Tricia, I have been following you on this amazing adventure. This has been my arm chair travel get away and my salvation. We are in a pandemic “only those living in your home can be in your home”. No visits from our son and his wife. No visits from our friends. To complicate matters the beginning of September Lar had a rock climbing fall and broke both his ankles. Three months in a cast and then air-boot. Now it is physio that stretches to up a year and a half. He has been a hiker, mountaineer and climber for forty years and this was his first mishap. We both have enjoyed this particular post and envy you these once in a lifetime adventures. Good wishes for a much better 2021 for us all. XXXXOOO Virginia

    1. Virginia, I’m sorry for my belated reply — it’s always wonderful to hear from you. I hope Lar is recovering from his accident. Hopefully by the time it’s safe to be out and about again, he’ll be feeling strong and ready for more outdoor adventures.

      Like you, we’ve also been refraining from all social visits outside of our household. It’s tough not seeing family and meeting friends for coffee and little excursions, but I firmly believe that if we all do this, we could get through the pandemic more quickly.

      In the meantime, I send you sunshine and a hug! Thanks for your ever-thoughtful comments.

    1. Bonjour, Gerard! I couldn’t agree more about how magnificent this scenery is. And the uphill climb probably would’ve even been breathtaking (physical exertion-wise) if we hadn’t been stopping so often to take pictures. :) Have you been in NY during the entire pandemic? Hope you’re staying well.

      1. Hi Tricia. I haven’t been in New York City since February of last year because of the pandemic. I normally go about once a month. I’m looking forward to going again after I’m vaccinated.

      2. Ah, I thought you lived in NYC, Gerard. I imagine you’ll have a long list of spots to visit there once it’s safe to travel again. I haven’t been to New York in about a decade, so I also look forward to getting back.

Join the conversation.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: