Located at the foot of the Greater Caucasus mountain range, the tiny village of Stepantsminda is a trekkers paradise!
Originally named after a monk (named Stephen) who constructed a hermitage in this location, Stepantsminda fell under Russian control with the expansion of the Russian Empire into Georgia, at the beginning of the 19th century.
After a failed revolt, the village officially changed its name to Kazbegi in 1925. However, in 2006, the town switched back to the current name of Stepantsminda. The region as a whole is still called Kazbegi and the town is often referred that way as well. It can be confusing at times!
Overall, the small town of under 2,000 inhabitants is located about 1,700 meters above sea level. It has a few small grocery stores selling the essentials and 2 or 3 restaurants to choose from.
Additionally, cars learn to share the streets with local cows and sheep..
In recent years, Stepantsminda has become more touristy as trekkers come to experience the incredible Kazbegi mountains. Multiple day excursions to Mt. Kazbek (5,047 metres) and Mt. Shani (4,451) are offered by various tour groups in the region.
Day tours are also offered from Tbilisi, Georgia or you can catch public transportation from Georgia’s capital (3 to 4 hours via Marshrutka, a small local van) to Stepantsminda. Additionally, Georgia is an ideal spot to try your thumb at hitchhiking as the people are friendly and welcoming! (Scope hitchwiki.org for tips on where to start)
If you don’t have time for a multiple day excursion and only have a day or two in Stepantsminda, make sure to spend one morning hiking to Gergeti Trinity Church!
From downtown Stepantsminda, it takes about 2-3 hours of fairly steep hiking to reach the 14th-century church, passing by cows and herds of sheep along the way.
Once you reach the Gergeti Trinity Church, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the surrounding Caucasus mountain range! Up and over the peaks lie Russia!
Stepantsminda is located in the northeastern part of Georgia and is easily accessible from Tbilisi, Georgia. Ideally, you’ll have at least a few weeks to explore the different areas of this stunningly beautiful country. This area of the world really is a hidden gem!
Even if time is tight, I would recommend making the trek to Stepantsminda for a day or two. The scenery on route to Kazbegi and the incredible Caucasus mountain range make this a trip you won’t soon forget!
Gamarjoba (hello) and Mudloba (thanks)!