The Georgian Military Highway

The Georgian Military Highway is a sight on its own. Not far from Tbilisi the road becomes just rocks, yet thousands cross at any given time via taxi, cars, busses, and trucks. The road eventually reaches Kazbegi and then the Russian border (for whatever reason, although it is mentioned all over the internet…backpackers keep trying to cross even though the border is only for CIS citizens).

The highway’s first encounter is the Ananuri Church Fortress. Gracing the cover of the new Lonely Planet and numerous post cards, this Church sits on a lake overlooking numerous mountains. You will see some tourists come by as it is not too far from Tbilisi and has a pretty gorgeous setting. You can climb to the top of one of the towers, although mind the gaps on the floor. Below the church is an abandoned housing complex or something. It is very strange, looks relatively new and very abandoned.

Soon after you will find yourself going really far up into the mountains. The road will soon leave, and you will find yourself on a rocky and bumpy miserable road to Kazbegi. There is some construction and several abandoned tunnels, it seems the road tunnels will not be in use for some time…if ever. The next stop is a giant scenic outlook where you will be far above the mountainscape. Many wander underneath to a piece of land the hangs off a cliff. Try to jump over the railing rather than follow underneath…there is tons of poop and mud all over.

At some point you will meet a large brown calcium waterfall. It looks scary, but the ground is really strong with shoes. It grabs your shoes, so you can walk on water without slipping. Once you get closer to Kazbegi you will have the opportunity to detour towards Sno Valley. All the guidebooks say you must take a Jeep, but we went with a minivan with no problems. At one point someone just shook their head while looking at the giant van go across the dangerous slopes.

In Sno Valley is an ancient guard tower which you can climb to the top (with strong upper arm movements of course). Further down you will find yourself lost from civilization, not even another car in sight. You will see plenty of cows though.

The best way to experience this road is to hire a driver. They usually go for around 150 Lira a day. If you go by marschrutka you end up missing a lot, plus have an even less comfortable drive.

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