Discover the North Caucasus — From Sochi to Grozny
Krasnodarskiy krai, Adygea, Karachay-Cherkessia, Stavropolskiy krai, Kabardino-Balkaria, North Ossetia, Ingushetia, Chechnya, June - September
Guide — Olga Masiutina
Group: 4-7 people
It is difficult to see all of the North Caucasus in just 6 days, but on this tour we will manage to visit the most important parts of the region and experience its tremendous cultural diversity.
During this tour we will stay in the most interesting cities — Pyatigorsk, Vladikavkaz, Grozny — we will take off-road vehicles up into vast mountain ranges (to the foot of Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe), we’ll see ancient churches, as well as the modern life of Caucasian ethnic groups, and we will meet people whom you will never forget.
Day 1. Mezmay — Secret of the Caucasian Forest
Route: Central Sochi — village of Mezmay
184 km, 3 hrs 15 min by commuter train, 86 km, 1 hr 40 min by minibus
Early in the morning we will meet at Sochi Central railway station. We’ll board the high-speed Lastochka commuter train and travel to the town of Khadyzhensk, regionally famous for its beer production. There we’ll switch to a minibus, and a couple of hours later will be at the village of Mezmay, the most out-of-the-way spot in the Krasnodar Region, located near the Lagonaki Plateau (a UNESCO heritage site). At Mezmay, we’ll trek across the canyon of the Kurdzhips River, with its picturesque waterfalls and boxwood groves that make the area look like a bewitched fairytale forest. In the evening, we’ll get to experience a genuine “black” banya, a traditional bathhouse where stones are heated indoors, emitting smoke which blackens the bath’s interior walls.
After partaking in this ritual, you’ll realize how little you actually know about the real Russian bath, and discover another method of purifying the body of toxins and excessive strain. The ritual will be overseen by professional bathhouse attendants.
Dinner will be served by one of the local families, and we’ll spend the night at a 3* hotel.
Day 2. The Flatlands and Mountains of the Western Caucasus
Route: Mezmay — Maikop — Zelenchukskaya — Arkhyz
330 km, 5,5 hours by minibus
Today we will visit the household museum of Zamudin Guchev, located in the suburb of Maykop, the capital of Adygea. There we will have the chance to learn about the culture of the Adyghs, the indigenous people of the Western Caucasus’ foothills and steppes. After a long drive through the flatlands, we’ll come to the Republic of Karachay-Cherkessia. From there we’ll go to Stanitsa Zelenchukskaya, a former Cossack village, to see the world’s largest radio telescope, a legacy of Soviet science which still operates to this day. We will also visit one of Russia’s oldest Christian temples, built in ancient Alania during the 10th century.
We’ll spend the night at a 4* hotel.
Day 3. Imperial Resorts with a View of Elbrus
Route: Arkhyz — Gumbashi Pass — Yessentuki — Pyatigorsk
220 km, 4 hrs
In the morning, we will drive across the Gumbashi Pass towards the Caucasian Mineral Waters group of resorts, part of the Stavropol Region.
Oh, the majestic calm of the Central Caucasus! We’ll spend most of the day strolling around Russia’s first spa resorts that were established as an alternative to Germany’s Baden-Baden and England’s Bath. Wounded officers recuperated here, and the creme de la creme of Russian aristocracy flocked to the spa towns’ promenades.
Even today, Kislovodsk, Yessentuki, and Pyatigorsk are considered Russia’s best spa resorts. The day will conclude with mud baths in a Soviet era spa center.
We’ll stay the night at a 4* boutique hotel.
Day 4. Kabardino-Balkaria — Thermal Springs with a View of Elbrus
Route: Pyatigorsk — Dzhily Su — Shaukam Pass (2,950 m) — Tyrnauz — Nalchik
185 km, 7 hrs.
Today we will take off-road vehicles to high-altitude passes to see the beauty of the Balkar mountains, and even bathe in thermal springs. Europe’s highest mountain, Elbrus, will be just 15km away from us!
In the evening, we’ll conclude the trip at Nalchik and spend the night in a 3* hotel.
Day 5. Kabardino-Balkaria and North Ossetia
Route: Nalchik — Vladikavkaz
120 km, 2 hrs
At Nalchik, we’ll conclude our introduction to Adyghe culture by meeting Felix Nakov, a skilled master of the shashka, the Cherkessian blade which was the most effective weapon of the nineteenth century, eventually adopted by the Russian Cavalry who used it to conquer vast swaths of the world, from Siberia to Paris.
Next, we’ll drive to Vladikavkaz, the capital of North Ossetia.
Many call this city the St. Petersburg of the Caucasus. For years Vladikavkaz was one of the region’s most important cultural and commercial centers, and in many ways it remains one to this day. The streets of the Old City are adorned with late 19th and early 20th century houses that were built by Russian army officers and merchants. Walking along the city’s central street, Prospekt Mira (Avenue of Peace), one gets a sense of the quiet pace of provincial life. All around you’ll find inviting cafes, and cheerful locals who never seem to be in a hurry.
From the city’s central streets, there are also breath-taking views of snow-covered mountain peaks.
We’ll spend this afternoon slowly exploring the city, learning to make famous Ossetian pies, and enjoying traditional Ossetian dances or meeting with Taymuraz Berozty, a young multi-instrumentalist who is rekindling the musical traditions of his land.
Day 6. Chechen republic and revived from the ashes Grozny
Route: Vladikavkaz- Magas- Urus-Martan — Grozny
140 km, 2,5 hrs
First we’ll visit the museum of deportation 1944 in Magas — the capital of Ingushetia, then we’ll head to a private open-air museum, Dondi Yurt. We’ll have lunch with the museum’s creator and take a tour of the exhibit.
We’ll be in Grozny at lunch-time and visit a restaurant that specializes in the national cuisine.
In the afternoon we’ll explore the city, visiting the Heart of Chechnya mosque, and the museum of the republic’s first president, Akhmad Kadyrov and walking along the Putin’s avemue.
Tonight we stay in Grozny-city 5* hotel and have dinner in «Kupol» restaurant, placed on the roof this skyscraper.
Day 7. Departure
Route: Grozny — airport
10 km, 20 minutes
Transfer to the airport of Grozny.
- English-speaking guide 24 hours per day;
- all local guides;
- accomodation (3-5* hotels);
- 3 meals per day;
- comfortable transportation;
- all tickets, entrance fees and so on;
- your flights to Sochi and back from Grozny;
- extra alcohol;
- souvenirs and other personal expenses.
- single suppliment is 200 USD;
- we require 20% nonrefundable prepayment (500 USD);
- please, get in touch with Dmitry Lemeshev for booking and other issues [email protected], phone +7 926 213 99 81.