National Park is located on the northern slopes of the mighty Caucasus range, and its protected area covers a total of over 8.700 hectares. At 5.047 metres above sea level, Kazbegi Mountain (or Mkinvartsveri) is the third highest mountain in Georgia, and is surrounded with myths and religious stories.
According to the Greek myth, as punishment for teaching mankind how to make fire, the Titan Prometheus was chained to a mountainside in the Caucasus for all eternity. According to Georgian stories, it was the icy slopes of Kazbegi to which he was chained. Prometheus (known as Amirani in Georgia) was apparently imprisoned in a cave 4.000 meters up. The cave, now called Betlemi (Bethlehem), later served as a dwelling for orthodox monks, and was said to contain many sacred relics, including Abraham’s tent and Christ’s manger.
Hot springs, acidic and carbonated lakes surround the mountain, and earth tremors are fairly frequent. Covered with 135 square kilometres of glacier, Kazbegi is a great place for ice climbing and mountaineering. The Darial Gorge is an almost impossibly steep cleft in the mountains connecting Russia and Georgia, running for 18km from Stepantsminda to the Russian border at Zemo Larsi.
For millennia, this mountain passage has been strategically crucial, and has been fortified since at least 150 BC. In places, the cliff faces are more than 1,000m high, and medieval watchtowers, waterfalls and wildlife make this one of the most incredible roads in the world. The steep valleys either side of the gorge are great places for bird watching. Eagles, hawks and the massive griffon vultures all nest among the rocky outcrops.
The gorge begins at the confluence of the river Chkheri (close to Stepantsminda) and ends near upper Lars. The Gorge itself is 11 km long. The confluence of Kabakhi and Khda rivers is the most narrow and rocky part of the gorge. You will also have an opportunity to see the Georgian Orthodox Cathedral, which is located within the gorge.