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Tour to Abkhazia and South Ossetia

Abkhazia and South Ossetia, 9th – 19th of June 2019

Guide — Dmitry Lemeshev

Group: 4 – 5 people

Тур в Абхазию и Южную Осетию The tour to Abkhazia and South Ossetia – the two countries that were not recognized as independent states not long ago! Both countries have a lot in common in their history; however, the distinctive culture and unique nature of each of the regions make them very different. Since the czar reign, Subtropical Abkhazia lying on the coast of the Black Sea has been knowns as a resort, while South Ossetia has gained notoriety due to its war. Very few people know that South Ossetia can be compared with the world shown in the films by Emir Kusturica; the world that harbors intangible preciousness of human souls and scenic mountains unconquered by tourists.

Itinerary

Day 1. 9th of June. Gagra

A warm night in the subtropics The guide will meet you at Sochi airport and take you to Gagra — one of the oldest Russian imperial resorts on the Black Sea. Gagra is in Abkhazia, 30 minuts driving from Russian border. Light dinner.
Overnight in a hotel (3*).

Day 2. 10th of June. Dynamic day in the mountains: Malaya Ritsa and Stalin’s «dacha»

Озеро Малая Рица

Small Ritsa lake. Photo: Denis Elagin

The tour to Abkhazia will not be complete without seeing Ritsa Lake. Definitely, we will go there, though our trip is not limited to taking pictures of the lake and coming back (the way tourists do it). We will walk through the virgin forest to Malaya Ritsa – the incredibly beautiful lake that lies off the beaten track of tourist routes. After that we’ll visit the summer house of Stalin and Khruschev.
In the evening come back to Gagra.
Overnight in a hotel (3*).

Day 3. 11th of June. Pitsunda and Sukhum

Brekhalovka. That is the place on Makhajir’s enbankment old people play chess and backgammon, where fishermen have coffee together with a minister… Photo Maciek Leszczelowski

First of all we’ll visit Pitsunda — a peninsula, which saved in memory Greek colonists, exiled Christians of the Roman Empire, Genoese merchants and Soviet tourists.
Afterwards we will continue to Achandara village which is one of many traditional Abkhazian villages. We’ll see lifestyle of one of the families, learn how to cook abysta (Abkhazian bread) and have lunch with the family. After that we’ll drive to Sukhumi — the capital of Abkhazia. Upon arrival we will visit national museum and walk in historical part of the town.
Overnight in a hotel (4*).

Day 4. 12th of June. Eastern Abkhazia: Traveling by jeep in the heart of rural life

Моквский собор

Temple in Mokva village. Photo: Alexey Korablev

We will see Mokva Cathedral – the largest medieval cathedral in Abkhazia, Tkuarchal, a ghost-city, which survived through 413 days of the blockade, and thermal springs in the vicinity of Kyndyg village. We will be back in Sukhum in the evening.
Overnight in a hotel (4*).

Day 5. 13th of June. New Athos and Gagra: walking around Russian Riviera

В парке Нового Афона

In the New Athos park. Photo Dmitry Kirillin

In the morning we will go to New Athos (Novy Afon) where we will spend the whole day. The hits of our sightseeing program are renowned karst New Athos Cave of a mind-boggling size; the first capital of Abkhazia – Anakopia citadel located on the top of the hill with steep slopes; and New Athos monastery – the largest Orthodox center on the Black Sea coast. We will come back to Sochi (Adler district) in the evening to take a night train to Mineralniye Vody.
Overnight in a train.

Day 6. 14th of June. The first impressions of Ossetia

Мечеть во Владикавказе

The Mukhtarov’s mosque on the Terek river enbankment. One of the symbols of the city.

After the train trip you may need to stretch your legs, that is why we would like to take you for a walk around the historical center of Pyatigorsk. After lunch we’ll hit the road to Vladikavkaz, the capital of North Ossetia. After short rest in a hotel we’ll walk around the historical part of the city. And in the evening we’ll meet enthusiasts of local folk music.
Overnight in 4* hotel.

Day 7. 15th of June. Rekom festival

Dancing on the field of Rekom in time of the festival.

Every third Saturday of June Ossetian people gather at the sanctuary of Rekom in Tsey valley. According to Ossetian epic tales about Narts this place become holy, when one of the tears shed by God due to the death of Bartraz, the strongest herro of Nart’s people, fell here. We’ll spend few hours at Rekom shrine exploring Ossetian feast traditions. Then we’ll head to South Ossetia. We will be right below the Great Caucasian Ridge, which we will cross through the Roksky tunnel that is 3,730 meters long. Get ready for a surprise: Everything is different on the other side. Different mountains, different climate…

Ущелье Урстуалта

Mountains of the gorge of White Tuals (Urstualta) — one of the gorges we pass on the road. Photo: hoochecoocheman.livejournal.com

It will not take us long to get to Tskhinval. We’ll have short walk in the town with a veteran of the war for independence.
Overnight in a hotel (3*).

Day 8. 16th of June. Rural life

В Чалисубани

The family we will stay with is multilingual. Husband speaks Ossetian, Georgian and in Russian. Wife — only Georgian. Children — Ossetian and Georgian.

In the morning we’ll go to Leningor — the most sensitive place of South Ossetia. This district was part of Georgia before 2008 and inhabitance is mixed there. Have lunch in Leningor and come back to Tskhinval district of South Ossetia.
Hike up to Usanet holy hill with local guide. Have dinner in the village.
In the evening we’ll come back to Vladikavkaz.
Overnight in a hotel (3*).

Day 9. 17th of June. Tir monastery and villages of Znaur district

Тирский монастырь

Tir monastery

We’ll spend few morning hours to explore Tskhinval. After that we’ll move to Tir monastery — one of the most interesting medeaval Ortodox complexes in South Ossetia. We’ll have lunch there.
In the afternoon we’ll go to Znaur district of South Ossetia to explore medieval churches, towers and meet locals.
Come back to Tskhinval in the evening.
Overnight in a hotel (3*).

Day 10. 18th of June. Keli lake or Vladikavkaz

Поход на Кельское озеро

Keli lake. Photo: Dmitry Egorov


In the morning we’ll leave Tskhinval to Urstualta valley. We’ll hike up to Lower Ruk mediaval tower, visit mineral springs of Zgubir village and then split our group…
Main option is to go to the upper reaches of the Ermandon river by all-road car and then hike via Keli pass (3112 meters) to Keli lake — one of the biggest mountain lakes of the Caucasus, placed on the outskirts of the Kel volcanic plateau. Horses will help us to carry equipment.
Night in tents.
Another part of the group will cross the border after lunch in Zgubir and go to Vladikavkaz.
After having rest in hotel we will continue exploring Vladikavkaz and have folk dance class.
Overnight in 4* hotel.

Day 11. 19th of June. Departure

The main part of the group will come back to Vladikavkaz while other will explore mountains of North Ossetia by all-road cars.
We’ll meet in the evening at the winery of Konstantin Dzitoev (one of the best winemakers of Russia) and celebrate ending of our trip.
Transfer to the airport of Vladikavkaz for the evening flight to Moscow.

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Conditions

Included in the price :

  • English-speaking guides;
  • all transportations;
  • accommodation;
  • meals;
  • museums and other tickets.

Not included in the price:

  • your flight to Sochi and back from Vladikavkaz;
  • suveniers and other personal expenses.

What to have with you

  • Comfortable demi clothing for outdoor activities.

Other detailes:

  • single suppliment is 400 USD
  • we require 20% nonrefundable prepayment.
  • please, get in touch with Dmitry Lemeshev for booking and other issues [email protected], phone +7 926 213 99 81