It wasn’t all yoga and meditation on our Zen Travel retreat. We drove down the Georgian Military Road, through the vast Dariali Gorge, a river gorge at the east base of Mount Kazbegi. This 208-kilometre road was used by invaders and traders over the years and is part of the route from Tbilisi (Georgia) to Vladikavkaz (Russia) and from it, you will get some breath-taking views of the sheer size of the Dariali Gorge. The gorge has attracted a reputation among the locals (who call themselves the Mokheve) as one of the most romantic places in the Caucasus and with the soft, lush greens and tumbling streams contrasting with the towering valleys, it’s easy to see why.
As we head closer to the Russian border, we stopped to gaze and take in the beauty of the gorge; it’s a geological wonder and a natural trade route for numerous civilisations since pre-Christian times. If you look close enough, you can spot a tiny church, barely visible and camouflaged by being built of the local stone as it nestles into the mountainside. It’s an engineering and logistical marvel.
Further on, we encounter the Gveleti Lake – glass-smooth, a heart-shaped lake surrounded by thick reeds and close to an international boundary where border soldiers regularly patrol the area. A little further on and after a moderate hike, we encountered the Gveleti Waterfalls, an absolute must-see with a cataract of water flowing out of the solid rock and falling in a gauzy cascade into a pool below. It’s a spectacular bit of nature through the scenic Dariali gorge.
Disclaimer: My Week of Zen on Kazbegi Mountain, was a sponsored trip by Zen Travel, Tbilisi, Georgia.