It was the day after we got back from the super difficult and tiring Gergeti glacier hike and now, we’re facing the day and getting ready to do a 22 km hike through the Trusso Valley. Although to be fair, we were told that the hiking track can be considered flat with only slight elevations.
The weather that greeted us that morning wasn’t all that ideal for hiking with clouds hanging over the sky so we weren’t all that sure that our hike through the Trusso Valley is a go. When we looked out at our balcony, we couldn’t really see Mt. Kazbek. It was hidden from our view with gray clouds and fog. This means that hikers currently going through the Gergeti Glacier would be experiencing a less fun time than we did.
At 9 am, the weather was still quite gloomy but on the bright side, it wasn’t raining anymore! So we set off for our day of hiking through the Trusso Valley.
How to get to Trusso Valley
The entrance to the Trusso Valley starts at the Kobi Village 20 km south of Kazbegi located at the Georgian Military Highway. However, it’s best to start the hike 4 km within the valley at the Kvemo Okrokana Village.
You can take a marshrutka heading up to Kazbegi and ask the driver to drop you at the Kobi Village. If you want to start your hike at Kvemo Okrakana Village, it’s better to take a taxi to take you directly within the Trusso Valley.
If you’re already in Kazbegi or Stepantsmida, there is a local travel agency called Mountain Freaks – Mountain Travel Agency that organizes daily bus rides for tourists heading to Kvemo Okrakana Village. The bus departs from the travel agency’s office in Stepantsmida twice a day at 9:15 am (which returns at 4:30 pm) and 11:15 am (which returns at 6:30 pm). Check for the departure times in advance since they change it from time to time.
The bus departs can only carry seven passengers to the village and departs if there are at least three passengers on board. The return trip costs 30 GEL. Also during the high season, make sure to book a seat in advance since the bus has limited seats for passengers.
In our case, we got a deal with a cab driver for 100 GEL to take the four of us directly to the entrance of the Trusso Valley and back. We would have paid 20 GEL less if there were only two of us in the car but it was much cheaper than renting a marshrutka for the four of us so we just agreed to the deal with the driver.
How long does it take to hike Trusso Valley
The entire duration of the hike from the starting point of the track all the way to the fortress/border with Russia takes abo put three hours to reach and another three hours to head back to the starting point. So the entire hike took six hours overall to and fro to complete.
You wouldn’t have to worry about food though as there are cafes along the way that serves delicious khachapuri and coffee ( You just have to wait for quite some time) . But of course, it wouldn’t hurt to pack your own snacks and water for the hike.
Level of Difficulty of the Trek through the Valley
The 22km hike through the valley wasn’t the most challenging trek in the world. I mean, compared to the difficult hike along the Gergeti glacier we did yesterday, the hike through the Trusso Valley is relatively easy. But keep in mind that it’s still a 22 km hike so it can be seen as a challenge for beginner hikers.
The trek was relatively flat with short uphills but nothing steep. There are only gradual elevations on the track and the views are fantastic.
Sites to See During the Trusso Valley Hike
Our hike started at Kvemo Okrokana Village where we passed a few abandoned houses at the outskirts heading to the track of the Trusso Valley. We followed the path hugging the Terek River and eventually entered the beautiful Kasari canyon.
The views at that point were already stunning. The sight of the jagged rocky cliffs that seemed to be reaching to the sky (which at that point was starting to clear up) and the flowing waters of the Terek River from melted ice and snow from the mountain makes for a fantastic view.
Travertines and Red Streams
As we keep following the river, we crossed a bridge on the Terek and the whole valley opened up to us. The Terek started winding from the mountains the further we walked and shortly after, we encountered our first travertine. This one is mostly orange and white formed by local mineral springs.
There are several more we encountered with deeper shades of the red mineral color the further we walk deeper into the valley. There was a huge red one that we passed.
We walked further along the track passing the travertines and red streams and followed a narrow path that leads to the river valley and a footbridge that got us across the river and past a camp of friendly locals.
By this point, the path slowly going up to the hillsides and at the valley below, there were red streams that look like veins running through the valley. We realized that those were stream carrying off mineral deposits from the travertines that give the streams their vivid red color. It was quite a unique sight to see, especially from above.
As we descend the narrow hillside path, we could finally inspect the red streams up close and saw that in some of the streams, there were literally water bubbling out from the depths of the earth feeding mineral deposits into the streams and finally joining the larger river.
Further along the path, we encountered the famous mineral lake that’s one of the main attractions for hikers in the Trusso Valley (other than the great views). It really does appear to be boiling as a consistent flow of gas from underground is released into the water and finds its way floating to the surface of the lake. The strong smell of sulfur is not hard to miss.
The lake is a color of pretty turquoise blue though and is contrasted beautifully against its fluorescent orange shores. There’s a sign by the lake that says the water is safe to drink but I didn’t risk it, judging by the strong smell coming off of it.
I saw a few hikers dipping their toes in the lake though and by their alarmed reaction (and by the cool weather), the lake must be icy cold. I don’t recommend staying by the lake for too long though because the smell of carbon dioxide and sulfur hangs thickly on its surface so I’m sure it’s not a good idea to inhale those gases far longer than a few minutes. Additionally, I’m pretty sure it’s a bad idea to swim in the lake as well.
The further we hike, we’re once again being met with travertines with their vivid red mineral water and at this point, we saw bursts of water spouting off the ground. The geyser was quite a sight as the water surrounding the ‘pipe’ is a far more vivid red compared to the surrounding streams deposit and travertines around it.
We hiked up even further into the valley and encountered an abandoned village with only a few tents on the outskirts. We also passed by friendly shepherds with their flocks of sheep and herding dogs.
Past the abandoned village, we were greeted by several monasteries by the road with very friendly nuns and locals living in one of the monasteries. Some of the buildings were nicely painted with bright colors including a lovely shade of pink. There was a nun’s monastery that was newly constructed but looks like it was constructed at the same time period as the surrounding buildings.
Upon chatting with a friendly local, we discovered that the nun’s monastery was just newly reconstructed. The small church nearby was said to be also rebuilt just recently after it was destroyed years ago. It was such a beautiful sight straight out of a painting with stone and wooden buildings within a vacant flowering valley surrounded by high cliffs and mountains.
Just a short distance away from the monasteries and also the final stop of the hike is the ruins of the Zakagori Fortress on top of a hill. On the valley further down below the fortress lies the border between Georgia and Russia where a military post is present. We can’t go on further down the valley at that point but the locals encouraged us to climb up the hill and explore the ruins of the fortress. And explore we did.
It was stunning going up that hill and being inside the Zakagori Fortress. What’s left of the fortress’s stone bricked tower and walls is enough to tickle the imagination of what it once looked like in its glory days.
Of course, the views on top of the hill is completely stunningly awe-inspiring. The whole valley opens up to you and you can see for miles away. The sight is completely straight out of a postcard or a painting.
After a while exploring the fortress and admiring the stunning views, it was time to head back down the hill and start our hike all over again back to where we’ve originally begun.
After such a tiring day before hiking through the Gergeti Glacier, I have no regrets going on another one. This hike through Trusso Valley is so much more chill that it has become a method of unwinding for me after such a tiring day. The beautiful sights are the main attractions that got me to push through this 22 km hike.
Honestly, we wouldn’t have thought to go on a Trusso Valley hike have not the tourism officer suggested it to us. Georgia is truly blessed with a rich and beautiful landscape and even more blessed with its people’s hospitality to us travelers. I’ve really glad we went on this hike.