Kazbegi and Gergeti Church are among the top attraction of Georgia, and it is no surprise that you want to include it in your itinerary. But maybe you plan to visit in late autumn or winter and have some doubts regarding the weather conditions? You are not alone. Many of our guests send us these question. While the answer is not simple (Kazbegi is surrounded by high mountains and the weather changes dynamically), I will do our best to explain you to what you can expect there in winter.
Kazbegi (or Stepantsminda as it is the official name of the town) gets most visitors in summer and early autumn. But it is an interesting place to visit almost all over the year. Actually, I visited Gergeti Church for the first in winter – in the Christmas time, 5 years ago.
The winter was quite mild at that time, and it was easy to get to Kazbegi and later hike up to the Gergeti Church. Nevertheless, it was totally empty – I was the only tourist. During all day I didn’t meet anyone. My only companion was a strayed dog, who accompanied me to the church and later up to the hills above.
There was not so much snow in the whole area. Just the mountains surrounding the Jvari Pass between Gudauri and Kazbegi were covered by snow. The Gergeti village below the church was all in the brown grasses.
Does it mean that you can come to Kazbegi at any time, without any preparations? By all means – NO. Every year is different, and while one winter is warm and gentle, the next year it might be harsh with extremely difficult conditions high in the mountains. Also during one winter, the situation is changing from month to month, week to week and even from day to day. I visited Kazbegi and Gergeti Church exactly at the same time (Christmas) last winter, and as you can see below, the conditions were completely different.
The town and surrounding mountains were tightly covered with snow. Streets of Kazbegi were also under think cover. The views were spectacular and the air crystal-clear, but the conditions for walking were difficult.
In this conditions, with snow lying on the hill, where the Gergeti Church is located, a 4x4 jeep trip, so popular amongst tourist in summer is not possible of course. the only option for those wanting to reach the church is to hike. While the trekking is completely safe (no avalanche risk, no gear required), physically it is quite demanding. Especially when the snow is fresh and deep. Good winter trekking shoes and trousers are a must. Warm, convenient clothes as well.
But when you finally get there, the view will reward you all the efforts. Sipping hot tea when admiring the church’s silhouette and later watching the fire buzzing inside is a unique experience.
So, to sum up:
- Is it possible to visit Gergeti Church in winter? Yes.
- Is it possible to get to the Gergeti Church by 4x4 vehicle in winter? Depends – you need to check the current conditions.
- Is it possible to do it as a 1-day trip? Unless the weather conditions allow using 4x4 transport to the hill – no.
- Is it safe to visit Gergeti Church in winter? Yes, under the condition that you know your way well, start early in the morning and prepare good shoes and clothes.
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