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Hiking and adventure tour in mountain Abkhazia

Abkhazia, 13th – 21st of July 2019

Guide — Dmitry Lemeshev

Group: 3 – 5 people

Закат на перевале Пыв. Фото: Michael Jeddah

Sunset on the Pyv pass. Photo: Michael Jeddah

On this trip, we’ll see the entire diversity of nature in Abkhazia, and familiarize ourselves with shepherds’ life in the mountains. These people have safeguarded the pristine cultural traditions of the Abkhaz people and the unwritten rules of behavior for humans and interaction with mountain spirits.
At the end of the journey we’ll descend from mountains to enjoy paradisal nature on the sea coast and explore the distinctive features of metropolitan life in Abkhazia.

Itinerary

Day 1. Welcome to the mountains of Abkhazia!

Фото: Денис Богомолов

Photo: Denis Bogomolov

The guide collects you at the Adler Airport, and in 1.5 hours you will arrive in the resort town of Gagra (Abkhazia) that has preserved its imperial charm and Soviet heritage.
Lunch in town.
Thereafter, we take the Ritsa highway to ride to the mountains. By sunset, we’ll have a stroll through the fir-tree forest from Lake Greater Ritsa to Lake Minor Rista, and have a picnic there enjoying the view on the mountains and the blue water surface. Afterwards, we’ll get back to Lake Greater Ritsa, and ride about 1 hour to reach the alpine shelter “Auadkhara” famous for the adjacent medicinal mineral water springs.
In the evening, a continuous feast, Abkhaz style.
Staying overnight at the alpine shelter.

Day 2. Lake Mzy: along the mountain range towards the Russian border

На Ацетукском хребте. Фото: Андрей Пашкевич

On the Atsetuk range. Photo: Andrey Pashkevich

This day we’ll walk towards Lake Mzy across the Atsetuk range. We’ll see fir-tree forests, the sub-alpine zone and alpine meadows. The culminating point in the trekking will be Lake Mzy situated at the very Russian border. On our way, we’ll also come across the atsangvars or stone fences, the vestiges of an ancient pastoral culture.
Back to “Auadkhara” by nightfall.
Staying overnight at the alpine shelter.

Day 3. Hosted by shepherds

Конная прогулка к озеру Мзы. Фото: Андрей Бойков

Horce-ride to Mzy lake. Photo: Andrey Boykov

We’ll have a very short drive in off-road jeeps to the zone of alpine meadows. Then we’ll make a horseback ride to the Seven Lakes District, and thereafter, we’ll cross the Bagrat Iashta range to visit the shepherds.
The Abkhaz pastoral culture is one of the most remarkable phenomena in the Caucasus. The men climb up the mountains with the cows and goats, herd them, milk them and make cheese on site. The cheese is stocked up to suffice for the entire family throughout the winter. Some of it is smoked, to keep it till spring time.

Летние хижины пастухов на хребте "Баграт иашта". Фото: Дмитрий Лемешев

Summer huts of shepherds on the Bagrat Iashta range. Photo: Dmitry Lemeshev

These men stay at the alpine pastures for months, in a narrow circle, and are exposed to all the whims of Nature’s elements. In such conditions, people strictly observe the ancient customs and unwritten rules of communication between each other and the mountain spirits.
Staying overnight in a shepherd’s hut or a tent.

Day 4. A day of respite in the mountains

Нехитрая пастушечья трапеза: абыста из кукурузной муки, козий сыр и острая абхазская приправа аджика. Часто к этому прибавляется еще и копченая дичь. Фото: Андрей Николаевич

Simple shepherds lunch: abysta made of maize flour, goat cheese and spicy Abkhazian adjika. They oftern add smoked game meat to this set. Photo: Andrey Nikolaevich

Every young man in Abkhazia shall once in a while climb the mountains and spend some time with shepherds. It is sort of an initiation ritual for men. Here young guys prove themselves full-fledged men, and are introduced to the unwritten code of behavior, the Apsuara.

Вид при спуске с хребта Баграт Иашта. Фото: Андрей Скрябин

View from Bagrat Iashta range. Photo: Andrey Skryabin

We’ll spend one day with the shepherds. Perhaps, we’ll ride on horseback to the Bagrat Iashta range or descend to the fir-tree forest to fetch some medicinal mineral water.
You may participate in milking and cheese making.

Day 5. Descent to Pskhu

Русский охотник, друг пастухов. Фото: Дмитрий Лемешев

Russian hunter, the frriend of abkhazian shepherds. Photo: Dmitry Lemeshev

Pskhu is the most inaccessible village in Abkhazia that has been populated by Russians since the early 20th century. Settlers from South Russia rendered this place habitable after decades of desolation, and preserved the Russian archetype, now almost gone. Before 1864, the village was inhabited by the Abkhaz, a most rebellious and independent mountain community. But they were deported to Turkey by the Tsarist administration.

В окрестностях Псху.

In the surroundings of Pskhu.

Nearly the whole day, we’ll be descending from alpine meadows to the deep valley of the River Bzyb.
We’ll be rewarded by staying overnight in a village house with a hot shower.

Day 6. By air to Sukhum, the capital of Abkhazia

На набережной в Сухуме. Фото: Отто Лакоба

On the promenade in Sukhum. Photo: Otto Lakoba

In the morning we’ll depart for the capital of Abkhazia by the 10 seater aircraft AN-2. This day we’ll stroll around the town, have coffee on the embankment, and ride to medicinal hot springs.
Staying overnight at a 4* hotel.

Day 7. Sukhum

Sukhum. Tour to Abkhazia

Embarkment of Sukhum. Photo: Daniel Zollinger (Flickr.com)

We’ll dedicate the whole day to seeing Sukhum. First we’ll visit its botanical garden, which is small, but has a really interesting collection. Then we’ll visit the national museum and a few important places in the center of the town. We will have lunch at one of the best restaurants that offer traditional cuisine.

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

After lunch we’ll have coffee with local history and culture experts, and visit souvenir shops. Next, we’ll go to a nursery of aboriginal grape varieties, which belongs to the biggest winery in the country. We’ll enjoy a nice wine tasting then have dinner with local musicians.
Staying overnight at a 4* hotel.

Day 8. A night on the beach

Новоафонский монастырь. Фото: Алексей Думчев

New Athos monastery. Photo: Алексей Думчев

Before noon, we’ll be exploring New Athos, a small town that from the very outset has become a major shrine of Orthodoxy in the Black Sea region. Nearby, on the steep hill, the ruins of Anakopia, the first capital of the Abkhaz kingdom, are situated. We’ll climb there by all means. In addition, we’ll have a ride in the Abkhaz subway: ten rail cars will take us to one of the most popular landmarks in Abkhazia, the Novy Afon cave.

Вид на море с холма, поросшего субтропическим лесом. Пицундо-Мюссерский биосферный заповедник. Фото: Дмитрий Лемешев

Sea view from the forest of Pitsundo-Myuseersky reserve. Photo: Dmitry Lemeshev

After lunch, we’ll visit the Pitsunda-Musser Reserve and spend the night on the sea shore: in a tropical forest, in tents.
We’ll spend the night sipping wine and swimming in the nocturnal sea.
Staying overnight in tents.

Day 9. Departure

Пляж ущелья Шлыпра. Фото: Александр Друзь

The beach of Shlypra gorge. Photo: Alexandr Druz’

By lunch time we’ll be in Gagra, and then we’ll depart for the Adler Airport.

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Conditions

Included:

  • English-speaking guide 24 hours per day;
  • local guides;
  • accomodation (2* mountain shelter - 2 nights; tents or shpherd's huts - 3 nights; guest-house in the village - 1 night; 4* hotel - 2 nights);
  • 3 meals per day;
  • transportation (all-road-cars, horses (cartage), plane, mini-van, boat);
  • all tickets, entrance fees and so on;

Not included:

  • your flights to Sochi and back;
  • souvenirs and other personal expenses.
  • single supplement 110 USD