Further north to the Russian border, near the tiny village of Gveleti, lies a valley known for its waterfalls but also the biodiversity of its fauna. October might not be the perfect month to spot many flowers, but we did our best.
Near Stepanzminda we had spent the nights next to a pool, which is feed by a natural spring of sparkling mineral water. The pool was too cool for a swim, but the area was very quiet, just some locals came, to fill up their water bottles.
The hike to the waterfalls starts at Gveleti, just off the Military Road. We took the parking for 3 GEL, which was the right decision, as the path further up is bad, and there is not much space to park on the sides. From here it was a 1,5 – 2 hours walk to both waterfalls.
First we took the path to the bigger waterfall at the right, which takes you through a narrow valley until you reach the fall at the end. The water of both waterfalls comes down from Mount Kazbegi.
The hike to the second waterfall was shorter and easier, but also impressive. On the way out we went flower hunting and even found some bell flowers, of which this area has more than 20 varieties.
We had very much enjoyed the hike in this impressive landscape, with the autumn colours and the beautiful weather. Back in Stepanzminda we did some shopping, including Puri, the traditional bread, which is baked in a deep, circular oven called a tone, using firewood. The dough is slapped against the wall and taken off again with a hook when finished, which leaves the characteristic hole. The freshly baked bread is then placed on wooden racks to cool, and it is usually sold wrapped in a sheet of paper.
Before we left the area, we also drove a little bit into the valley of Sno, where we noticed some carved heads in a field next to the road. On our way out again, we had an incredible last view of the mighty Mount Kazbebi.
We had spent 4 nights in this area, and had enjoyed the mountains and valleys surrounding Stepanzminda a lot. Finally we left, to head to another part of Georgia. We thought we would try to drive to Tusheti next. More on our next post!