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Expedition to mountains of Dagestan

Dagestan, 9 days, 18 - 26 of August 2018

Guide — Dmitry Lemeshev

Group: 5 - 10 people

Children of Kusur village. Photo of Shamil Gadzhidadaev

In store for us is an expedition to the regions of Daghestan bordering on Georgia and Azerbaijan. Here vast expanses of virgin nature have survived, and the people still observe the mountaineers’ shepherding traditions.
We climb up to the somber highlands to see blossoming alpine meadows. We’ll visit genuine alpine villages where living conditions have hardly changed since the last century, and we’ll familiarize ourselves with strong-willed shepherds who, for months, live side by side with marauding bears.
We’ll traverse tens of kilometers on foot because there are no roads leading to the shepherds’ camps and to one of the villages. However, horses will be carrying our rucksacks…

Село Кусур. Фото: Владимир Севриновский

Kusur village. Photo: Vladimir Sevrinovsky

At the end of the journey, we’ll make a pilgrimage to an ancient shrine, and visit the oldest town of Russia that emerged at the crossroads of many civilizations and combines their features.

Itinerary

1 day. Arrival to Makhachkala

Our flight arrives in Makhachkala, the capital of Daghestan.
Transfer to the hotel, rest.
Dinner downtown, a walking tour of the historical streets with a connoisseur of urban folklore.

2 day. From the capital of the republic to the capital of sheeps

7 hours by all-road-car (240 km)

В селе Гоцатль

The director of the jewelry factory tell us about the features of local engraving. Photo: Vladimir Sevrinovsky

Trip to the village of Gotsatl’ famous for its jewelers. Here the jewelers will conduct an engraving master-class for us. We’ll stroll the village streets.
Lunch before departure.

Карадахская теснина - невероятно глубокое и узкое ущелье, промытое небольшим ручейком . Впрочем во время ливня ручеек превращается в бушующий поток, который гладко полирует скалы. Фото: Магомед Шапиев

Karadakh gorge — an incredibly deep and narrow gorge, washed by a small river. During a rainstorm it trickle turns into a raging stream, which polishes the smooth rocks. Photo: Magomed Shapiev

Next we’ll head for the Karadakh Gorge, an incredibly narrow and deep canyon with curious rock formations.
A journey to Kamilukh, the most remote village in Tlyaratinsky district. The long trip (over three hours) will be embellished by breathtaking and sometimes scary alpine views. On the way, we’ll make a stop-over at the village of Goor where medieval towers stand firm on the rocky cliff.

Kamilukh in the morning. Photo: Vladimir Sevrinovsky

Kamilukh in the morning. Photo: Vladimir Sevrinovsky

For dinner, we’ll be treated with local delicatessen: sheep sour-cream, cheese and, of course, fresh mutton. Kamilukh is the last place in Daghestan where sheep cheese is produced in significant amounts. On the nearby pastures, the shepherds keep over 10,000 sheep!
Night in village houses.

3 day. To the shepherds

12 km, climb up 670 meters, 4–6 hours walking

Овцы на пастбище в верховьях Джурмута. Фото: Владимир Севриновский

Sheep in the pasture in the headwaters of Dzhurmut river. Photo: Vladimir Sevrinovsky

We’ll make a simple walk in the River Jurmut valley to the farthest shepherds’ camp. En route, we’ll come across several camps and get to know the shepherds’ lifestyle.

Стоянка пастухов в верховьях Джурмута на закате. Фото: Владимир Севриновский

Shepherd’s camp in the headwaters of Dzhurmut river. Photo: Vladimir Sevrinovsky

We’ll spend the night nearby, in tents.

4 day. Khalakhurkhats pass (3481 meters)

distance 10 km, climb up 800 meters, climb down 1200 meters, 5-8 hours trekking

Осенний вид с перевала Халахурхац. Фото: Владимир Севриновский

Autumn view from the Khalakhurkhats pass

The hardest day of the expedition. We are going to climb up to the lifeless highlands and descend to the headwaters of the River Samur, one of the longest rivers of Daghestan.

На подходе к пограничной заставе.  Фото: Владимир Севриновский

On the way to the frontier post. Photo: Vladimir Sevrinovsky

At night, we’ll be hosted by the border patrol at the farthest outpost in a picturesque meander of the River Samur.

5 day. Kusur — the alive archaic

distance 15 km, climb down 150 meters, 5 hours trekking

В селе Кусур, куда до сих пор не проложена автодорога, во время праздника Курбан байрам. Фото: Владимир Севриновский

In Kusur village, during the holiday of Eid al Adha. Photo: Vladimir Sevrinovsky

Kusur (2147 meters), one of the few villages in Daghestan where no motorway goes. That’s why people live here like their ancestors in the 19th century.

Приветливая аварская бабушка из Кусура во время празднования Курбан байрам. Фото: Владимир Севриновский

The friendly Avar lady from Kusur during the celebration of Eid al Adha. Photo: Vladimir Sevrinovsky

The road will be scenic and not hard. By lunchtime, we’ll be in the village to spend the rest of the day. The night in a village house.

6 day. Villages of Tsakhur people and Akhty

distance 18 km, 4-5 hours trekking + 2-2,5 hours by micro-bus

Долина реки Самур. Фото: Дмитрий Чистопрудов, Николай Рыков

Samur valley. Photo: Dmitry Chistoprudov, Nikolay Rykov

This day will be devoted to the descent to civilization.
First, 18 km down a horse trail to the beginning of the motorway at the village of Mukhukh. Thereafter, by minibus, by the beautiful road to the village of Akhty.

Село Цахур - одно из сел, которые населяет один из малых народов Дагестана - Цахуры. Это только одно из множества живописных сел, которые мы увидим с дороги. Фото: Дмитрий Чистопрудов, Николай Рыков

Tsakhur village — one of the villages that are inhabited by one of the small peoples of Dagestan — Tsakhurs. This is just one of the many picturesque villages that we see on the road. Photo: Dmitry Chistoprudov Nikolay Rykov

Visit to local museum. Rest in thermal bathtubs.
Lunch in restaurant!
Dinner (Azeri cuisine)
Night at hotel 3*.

7 day. Hiking to the Shalbuzdag mount.

5 hours by ll-road-car, 4 hours hiking, climb up 700 meters, climb down 700 meters, 2 hours by micro-bus

Паломницы отдыхают на тропе.

pilgrims resting on the trail.

We’ll rise early in the morning and by a Russian four-wheel drive vehicle climb the slopes of Mt. Shalbuzdag to the altitude of nearly 3000 meters. Then, on foot, we’ll climb the pilgrims’ trail to the ancient shrine that has been popular since the pre-Islamic time. Some Muslims believe that seven ascents to Mt. Shalbuzdag are equal to one hadj.

Дербент, Кырхлярские ворота. Фото: Дмитрий Чистопрудов и Николай Рыков

Derbent, Kyrkhlyar gates to Old City. Photo: Dmitry Chistoprudov Nikolay Rykov

By nightfall, we’ll descend and have dinner in the ancient Derbent, UNESCO cultural heritage.
Night at hotel 3*.

Day 8. Derbent

Дербент, улица Старого Города. Водитель-дальнобойщик перебирает свой КамАЗ после рейса прямо на территории объекта культурного наследия ЮНЕСКО. Фото: Дмитрий Чистопрудов.

Derbent, street of the Old Town. The trucker repairing his Kamaz after the long way at the site of UNESCO Cultural Heritage. Photo: Dmitry Chistoprudov.

The entire day will be devoted to lazy walks down the streets of the ancient Derbent: the Naryn-Kala citadel, the Old Town, and the oldest mosque in Russia (A.D. 733-734); we’ll meet interesting citizens, eat at an excellent restaurant and a traditional tea-house…

Еще лет 50 назад, когда все крыши в Дербенте были плоскими, каждый житель города держал у себя на крыше голубей - это было всеобщее увлечение. Сейчас в городе осталось всего пара фанатиков  - Нияз один из них. Он держит более 3000 голубей у себя дома - некоторые из них по-настоящему удивительные птицы.  Мы обязательно зайдем к Ниязу на чай. Фото: Дмитрий Лемешев

Even 50 years ago, when all the roofs were flat in Derbent, every resident of the city held at the pigeons on the roof. Now there are only a couple of fanatics in the city — Niyaz one of them. He holds more than 3,000 pigeons at home — some of them are truly amazing birds. We’ll come for a cup of tea to his house. Photo: Dmitry Lemeshev

Derbent is multicultural city as evidenced by mosques, the Orthodox church, the Armenian church turned into the Museum of the Carpet and Jug, and the synagogue where mountain Jews gather…

Day 9. Departure

110 kм, 2 hours by micro-bus
In the morning, we’ll depart from Derbent, straight to the Makhachkala airport.

Map

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Conditions

Included:

  • guide 24 hours per day;
  • all local guides;
  • accomodation (3* hotels - 3 nights, home-stay 2 nights, tents - 3 nights);
  • 3 meals per day;
  • transportation;
  • all tickets, entrance fees and so on;
  • border-zone permit and visa-support.

Not included:

  • your flight to Makhachkala and back;
  • extra alcohol;
  • souvenirs and other personal expenses.

Booking and other conditions:

  • single supplement - 150 USD;
  • 20% prepayment is required 90 days in advance;
  • we need scanned copy of your passport and Russian visa 65 days in advance to make border zone permit in time.