Day hike from Kazbegi village to the foot of glacier covering Mt. Kazbek.
Nice one-day hike from Kazbegi (Stepanstsminda) village to the foot of Gergeti glacier covering Mt. Kazbek at the elevation of 3200 meters.
On the way, you will pass beautifully situated Gergeti Trinity church, probably the most famous Georgian landmark.
Duration: 7-8 hours
It takes up to five hours to climb to the glacier and another 2-3 hours to return.
In a single day, you will have to hike 1600 meters up and down.
How to leave Kazbegi:
Marshrutkas to Tbilisi leave hourly from the bus stop at the main square. The first one departs at 6:00 am., the last one at 5 pm. and the trip also costs 10 GEL.
The best place to start your trip to Kazbegi is the Didube bus station (located by the metro station of the same name). Here, you will need to decide if you want to take a marshrutka or a taxi.
Cheapest and the least comfortable way to get to Kazbegi. These depart when full from 8. am till late afternoon. The ride costs 10 GEL and takes 3-4 hours.
There is one thing you need to consider - these are meant for locals, not tourists. That means that the driver doesn´t stop at any tourist hotspots along the Georgian Military Road. Instead, he will make only one break halfway, usually by some restaurant. So, as a first-time visitor, I would definitely forget about marshrutka and pay those few extra bucks for a taxi.
While the seat in shared taxi usually costs about 25 GEL, this mode of transport has many advantages. Car seats are larger, provide more legspace and better views (marshrutka windows are small, dirty and positioned too low so you often have to crawl to see the mountains outside). Also, the drivers stop at popular sights along the Georgian Military Road and give you enough time to explore.
There are only few things to consider - most drivers stop just at Ananuri fortress and Treaty of Georgievsk momunent so if you want something extra, better agree upon it beforehand. Also, it might be hard to find shared taxi which DOESN´T make breaks since these cater mostly to tourists.
If you travel in a group or money is not an issue for you, you can also hire a private taxi. Prices for the ride start at some 100-120 GEL, depending on the situation. Also, if you want to have everything planned in advance and prefer some proven driver, you could use gotrip.ge service, but expect to pay 140 GEL or more.
Description of the route
Cross the Tergi river and enter village Gergeti. Follow the main road; you should see several signs showing the way
to Tsminda Sameba (Gergeti Trinity church).
The marked path will eventually leave the main road and turn left into the hill. After a short walk between the houses, you will end up on a meadow.
Shortly, your path will cross jeep track, but don't let it disturb you and walk straight to the information panel you can see from the crossroad.
Then follows a pleasant walk in the forest and not so pleasant steep ascent on a rocky road. Your path will cross jeep track again, but don't follow it for too long
and turn left into the forest. The trail will eventually lead you out of the woods, within sight of Gergeti Trinity Church. I think this is the most straightforward path to the church - chosen here since the church is only the first stop on the hike to the glacier. If you want to hike only to the church, I recommend you to take slower, more scenic trail which approaches the church by the valley from the south, better check this post about the hike.
The church is really nice, but the views are somewhat spoiled by a new road with the parking lot (which is a good idea, but most of the drivers ignore it and keep parking right by the church).
Luckily, this is the highest the cars can go. The trail now turns west, climbs into some undergrowth, and after few minutes you will end up on a ridge. Walk straight as there is nowhere to get lost, the path is pretty obvious.
After some pretty long and steep ascent, you will come to the small pass with the stone cairn (elevation 2900m) - this place is called an Arsha pass. From here you have a first views of Gergeti glacier and Mt. Kazbek.
Now path descends a little, crosses several streams forming Sabertse river and ascends again to the foot of the glacier. You can try a small walk on a glacier,
take a few pictures and its time to go back the way you came.
It is also possible to reach meteostation Bethlemi hut at elevation 3600 meters (route also on the map),
but to make it there and back to Kazbegi in a day is very exhausting (11 hours of walk). At the station, you can sleep (booking recommended) or camp nearby for 10 GEL.