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
North 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.
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.).
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 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.