Why visit Caucasus?
For any city dweller, the Caucasus is a truly exotic place, which is both accessible and relatively inexpensive. Magnificent mountain ranges, the monuments of ancient civilizations, local traditions and customs are no less capable of amazing visitors today than they were in the days of Alexandre Dumas and Leo Tolstoy, who celebrated the wild frontiers of the Russian Empire in their writing. After a comfortable flight and often visa-free entrance, you find yourself in a different, alluring and enchanting world, where unusual and unfamiliar things are everywhere to be seen.
Diversity of landscapes
The Caucasian terrain is beautiful in its diversity and diverse in its beauty. Wild and bleak nature can be found side by side with places that have been made habitable for thousands of years. A couple of days, and often just a couple of hours, is enough to get from seaside beaches to snow-capped summits. From subtropical, sun-soaked gardens to perpetually gloomy canyons, or from old-growth forests to endless alpine meadows—the scenery of the Caucasus is incredible and diverse.
The Caucasus is home to many distinctive nationalities with complicated histories and unique traditions. Here, Christian and Islamic ceremonies are intertwined with archaic beliefs and customs. Craftsmen use the technologies of their distant ancestors to produce handmade masterpieces. Ancient monasteries and mosques can be found side by side with amazing fortress turrets and pagan shrines. There are dozens of rare dialects, but you won’t have any problem getting to know the highlanders as almost everyone in the Caucasus speaks Russian, which is the native language of our guides.
The Caucasus’ gastronomic map is even more complex and diverse than its physical or ethnographic one. The local cuisine changes from nationality to nationality, but also from one valley to another. In some places, it’s simple and straightforward, in others—refined and sophisticated, but everywhere it’s natural and fresh, and that is one of the principal longevity secrets of the local people.
Even if you’ve been to Caucasus-themed restaurants and tried khinkali dumplings, khachapuri cheese pies, or baklava sweets, believe us when we say that these dishes acquire a special taste when consumed in the highlands, one you’ll remember for a long time. Local wine-making traditions of this part of the world have a long history, perhaps the world’s oldest, and right now the region is experiencing a true wine renaissance, so you’ll be amazed by the diversity that’s available. Caucasian feasts are a living tradition, which turns any eating occasion into a real celebration.
Layers of history
The Caucasus has a tangible history, it remembers everything: ancient dates, modern Russian times and Soviet power. What’s ancient history in the West is still alive and kicking in the Caucasus! During your journey you will encounter post-industrialism in big cities and Medieval clan systems in mountain villages.
Modern technologies amazingly intermingle with old commandments. Thus in an out-of-the-way Daghestani village a girl climbs up the highest local mountain to catch 3G on her smartphone and, most importantly, to see her boyfriend because down in the village neighbors may intercept their coy glances.
At wedding parties in Digoria each and every young man covets to ride as closely as possible to the bride’s cortege when she is on her way to the bride-groom’s house, they battle for this place! A century ago the journey turned into a horse race. Nowadays, young men bump their expensive Toyotas and Nissans unwilling to cede their honorable place in the cortege. A passage to the Caucasus is a journey through the history of mankind!
When you come to the Caucasus, you’re a guest, not a tourist
The Caucasus is an unexplored land. Quite recently, most of the Northern Caucasus and unrecognized republics of Transcaucasia were hotspots, off limits for tourists. Over the past years, the situation has improved quite a bit: our experience in the region shows that nowadays these lands are safe for travel. While there is an absence of mass tourist destinations in this part of the world, the wilderness and unexplored landscapes provide a great deal of charm. Local populations are not yet used to tourist groups, thus for them we are genuine guests. You will be treated with infinite attention and that famous Caucasian hospitality!
And yes, the Caucasus is safe
Even though Dagestan, Ingushetia and Nagorno-Karabakh sometimes provide fodder for alarming news, we’ve been working in the region for a long time, and can confidently claim that it’s very unlikely for travellers in the Caucasus to face any trouble. Your safety will be protected not only by our guides and porters, but also by the local residents, who still see tourists as guests and consider taking care of them a point of honour.