Kazbegi (Stepantsminda), Georgia to Kursavka, Russia Week 121 July 21st - 22nd 2013
An early start and about 12 km backtrack through Upliststikhe village then Gori.

We passed the village herd of cattle being assembled for the days grazing.

East towards Tlibisi until we turned north.
We leave the central plain around Tlibisi.

Into the mountains again. Past Zhinvali Dam.

Ever deeper.

And higher.

Its Sunday morning in Georgia.
Recent bee keeping has involved stationery hives on the ground.

This is back to the Russian style of beehives on trailers.

Agriculture is mainly by hand.

We haven't seen a tractor for a couple of days.

The police stations we've seen in Georgia are all new.
Up to the pass (per Krestovy) at 2380m.
And a look back from a slightly precarious feeling lookout.
Past the village of Gudauri which seems to support the ski field.

This looked like it was for sale for $175,000.

There's a continual procession of Russian, Armenian and Georgian registered cars and trucks.
If it wasn't misty we would have got a good view.

We may yet as we've just read on our paper map that the border we are headed to is "closed to foreigners".

We really don't know as we can't find a date of publication on the map, its not mentioned in our guide book, and the Russian consulate in Canberra issued our visa for crossing here.

No internet. We'll see what happens tomorrow.

We didn't stop here.

There's a monument and what look like a couple of very powerful searchlights.

Over the pass and we begin to descend.

The mountain on the left is Kazbek - 5033m.

Hidden in the mist.

Forgot to mention our speed is about 20 km/h.

Road works and heavily potholed road.

But we aren't tired of the mountains.

It looks like we return to sealed road at the valley floor.

Tired after many days moving too fast we stop early.

A few km short of Kazbegi and about 20 km short of the border.

The road is about 100m beyond the truck.

This side of the herd of cattle.

We are in the Lesser Caucasus Mountains.

The Greater Caucasus Mountains are to the west.

The road down to the border.
We really are here.
After Kazbegi (Stepanstminda) the road has a better surface but is more twisty. Enclosed in the gorge.

The river is grey with silt.

Exiting Georgia was relatively easy.

We left our campsite at 06:10 hoping to beat the traffic.

Arrived at the border around 7 am.

Customs wanted to look inside but finding the right numbers on the "vehicle passport" (registration receipt) took a little time.

People were helpful, but slow.

The Russian border post was open.

Just incredibly slow.

It was an hour before we were let in the gate.

A few vehicles at a time.

Along with the Azerbaijan registered van in front we were directed to the truck queue by customs.


I went hunting for immigration. After a bit of confusion someone with a bit of English and a lot of authority appeared. 

The main concern seemed to be "how did you get here and where are you going?" given that "Australia is an island".

Immigration complete (the border is not "closed to foreigners") we were helped to swap to the car queue for customs. And helped to complete the vehicle declaration form (only in Russian, unlike when we entered from Mongolia which was in Russian and English).

It also didn't matter that we were a week later than the visa application.

It was 10am when we finally exited the border post.

And stopped for breakfast a few km downriver.

Also took time to reload the Russia maps to the iGo gps.

We are feeling at home in Russia already.

Its raining. Just like last time.

Rostov is about 600km to the north west. A place we passed through on 12th October 2011. About 21 months ago..

We will follow this road (M59) north west to Stavropol then turn east towards Astrakhan and the Kazakhstan border.

There is a more direct route but it passes through  Dargestan and Chechnya.

As it is we pass within 100km of Grozny (which was virtually destroyed) and pass through Beslan (where schoolchildren were held hostage and killed).

Parts of this area are still disputed. Including South Ossettia that was to our west as we drove north in Georgia. Our concern stems from the seeming willingness to see foreigners as targets to be used to further a cause and our reluctance to assist by becoming hostages.

Part of feeling "at home" was the ease with which we found a bankomat and filled a fuel tank.

Simple tasks that last time had been all consuming were non-events.

By the time we finish this trip we may be competent travelers!

We think the oncoming car is a very solid looking "Zil".

Traffic is relatively well behaved.

Possibly because of the frequent police cars and check points.

We were waved through.

Last time in Russia it was autumn with all of its colour..

This time we see sunflowers in bloom.

We stopped mid afternoon after a tiring day.

A few hundred metres down a muddy track hidden from the main road.

After the setbacks of China Visa hunting in Turkey life is becoming more stable.

We are a week behind our schedule which is neither here nor there at this stage. Looks like we'll easily arrive at the Chinese border on time.

A big change from the mountains.

We will sleep well on the assumption "red sky at night ......" applies here.

Astrakhan, Russia Week 121 July 23rd - 24th 2013

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