March 27th 2007


Gudauri-Kazbegi is a region situated in the north of Georgia at the border to Ingushetia (map). In order to reach this region one has to leave Tbilisi north on the centuries-old Georgian Military Highway, pass the Zhinvali-reservoir to the west and climb up the serpentines of the Khashuran slope to the Cross Pass (Dshvari Pass) - the most important and almost only usable crossing of the Great Caucasus.

location: Central Greater Caucasus, at the borders to North-Ossetia and Ingushetia

conditions: vulcanogenic rocks

destinations: Cross Pass (2300 m N.N.), Kasbek Mt. (5048 m N.N.), Devdorak Glacier, Sno Valley, Tshaukhi Mt. (3840 m N.N.), Upper Terek Valley

plants: Fritillaria collina, F. tenuifolia, Endemits: Galanthusplatyphyllus, Campanula hypopolia, C. sarmatica C. sosnowskyi, C. symphytifolia, Lilium georgicum, Primula darialica, C. bellidifolia, Cerastium kazbek. Plants of the highest (subnival) zone are: Delphiniumcaucasicum, Silene humilis, Pseudovesicaria digitata, Symphyoloma graveolens, Scrophularia minima.

animals: Capra caucasica, Wolf, Fox, Snow Cock, Black Cock


Mt. Kazbek from the south, and someone collecting spiders up frontUpper Terek valley with Terek river and KobiNorth of the Cross Pass there is the village Kobi. A detour to the Upper Terek valley to the west promises divers alpine plant communities and beautiful sceneries, including a southern view on Mt. Kazbek - when it is not covered in clouds, that is.


Kazbegi is the highest mountain town in the Caucasus (1700 m NN) and the last (larger) town south of the border to Ingushetia. It is the recommended start-off point for ascents to Mt. Kazbek and hikes to the Devdorak valley in the north. Lately Kazbegi has been given its old name again: Stepanzminda.

Zminda Sameba monastery - (c) K. Meister Above Kazbegi and the village Gergeti Georgia’s most famous monastery is situated (at 2000 m NN). From here it takes another one to two hours to reach the Orzferi glacier at the eastern side of the Kazbek. Alpine mats with numerous plant species line the way (e. g. Gentianella sp., Saxifraga sp.).

landscape above Kazbegisummit of Kazbek Mt. - (c) K. Meister

Kazbek Mt. (5048 m NN) is the eighth highest mountain of the Great Caucasus. It is known for its - most-times - clouded summit and good pictures can be taken only in the morning before the gathering of the clouds.

Devdorak glacier

Devdorak valley and Devdorak glacier in the background Devdorak glacier is the most (in)famous glacier of the Caucasus. It used to be very dangerous as its sudden glacier-slides ran down all the way to the Georgian Military Highway killing travellers and workers in the process. Nowadays it does not pose a big security problem anymore because it’s melting due to Global Warming. Its swollen glacier creek proved this point.


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