ancient traditions and epic beauty
Krasnodar – Adygea – Karachay-Cherkessia – Kabardino-Balkaria
This tour is offered on a regular monthly basis from April through October. Let us know your desired departure month by clicking on the learn-more button below: we will match your preferences with the next relevant scheduled group departure. If you are still unsure about your desired departure date, then simply tell us a period or a season of the year and we will provide you a range of scheduled group departures: just pick up yours!
Our scheduled group departures don't suit your plans? If you are travelling with more than 4 friends, you can set your own departure date: we will arrange a bespoke tour just for you for the same price per person advertised below. If you are travelling solo or with less than four companions, we will then organise a slightly more expensive tailored tour according to your time schedule and specific geographical preferences.
DAY 1 - Krasnodar
In the morning you will meet our tour guide in the lobby of the designated hotel (exact hotel address and meeting time will be communicated well in advance per email; private airport pickup and shuttle service available for a small additional fee).
We’ll devote the entire day to Krasnodar, a bustling southern town of Soviet glories and Cossack pride.
Highlights of your stay in town will include a gastronomic walk around the chaotic central bazaar, a meeting with the Kuban Cossacks, a nostalgic pilgrimage to the main Red Army memorials and an architecture-focussed tour through the many modernist wonders scattered around town such as the UFO-shaped city circus and the futuristic cinema Aurora.
Lunch, dinner and overnight in Krasnodar.
DAY 2 - Adygean Lowlands
Early in the morning we'll depart from Krasnodar and head towards Adygea, an autonomous republic of the Russian Federation mainly inhabited by the Adyghe people, a sub-ethnos of the Circassians.
We'll drive across the barren lowlands of Northern Adygea and stop en route in a couple of sleepy towns and villages such as Giaginskaya, renowned for the production of a super tasty traditional cheese.
Around lunchtime we'll eventually reach Maykop, the sunny capital of Adygea.
Soviet and post-Soviet sightseeing around Maykop: Grand Mosque, Republican Museum, Central Bazaar, Soviet Train Station, Old Brewery, Lenin Park, and WWII Memorials.
Dinner and overnight in Maykop.
DAY 3 - Lago-Naki Plateau
In the early morning we will head south towards the Lago-Naki Plateau, known for its thriving fauna and lush alpine meadows and arguably one of the most beautiful places in Southwestern Russia.
Besides the routine pauses for food, toilet and random landscape pictures, we'll break the two-hour-long scenic journey in the traditional Adyge settlements of Abadzekhskaya, Mishoko and Kamennomostsky and visit the ancient dolmens dotting the surrounding woods.
After lunch we’ll arrive in Guzeripl, the main village in the area, and devote the rest of the day to the exploration of the Lago-Naki Natural Park.
Dinner and overnight in Guzeripl.
DAY 4 - Cherkessia
In the morning we'll exit Adygea and head for Cherkessk, the rather unattractive capital of the Republic of Karachay-Cherkessia, homeland of the Circassian and Karachay people.
Once in Cherkessk we’ll spend the minimum amount of time required to visit the few architectonic remnants of the good old Soviet days, the mandatory Lenin statue, the smelly central bazaar and the satellite town of Psyzh, a large rural settlement mainly inhabited by Abazins, an ethnic group of the Northwest Caucasus, closely related to the Abkhaz.
We’ll then travel south to Arkhyz, a mountain village in the neighbouring Republic of Karachay-Cherkessia, the homeland of the Circassian and Karachay
Besides the routine pauses for food, toilet and random landscape pictures, we'll break the two-hour-long journey in several traditional Circassian towns and hamlets along the way such as Khabez, Ali-Berdukovskiy and Zelenchukskaya.
In the vicinity of Arkhyz we'll visit the Nizhnearkhyzskoe Gorodishche archeological complex, tentatively identified as the medieval capital of Alania, a Christian state destroyed by the Mongol hordes in the 13th century.
Arkhyz is also the site of a Soviet astrophysical observatory which formerly boasted the world's largest solid-mirror reflecting telescope: a not-to-be-missed massive display of Soviet technology and engineering.
Lunch, dinner and overnight in Arkhyz.
DAY 5 - Karachay
We'll leave Arkhyz in the early morning hours and set off for a comprehensive tour of Karachay-Cherkessia.
Taking a shortcut through remote Cherkessian valleys and passing isolated tiny hamlets such as Khasaut-Grecheskoye and Krasny-Karachay, we’ll reach the picturesque Karachay town of Teberda and then head towards Dombay, a renowned Soviet mountain resort home to one of the most significative examples of modernist architecture in the area: the mighty Amanauz Hotel.
Descending from the high peaks of the Caucasus, we’ll move onto Karachaevsk, the cultural capital of the Karachay people, and then turn east to the traditional Karachay village of Mara, a highly photogenic settlement surrounded by idyllic green pastures.
In the afternoon we'll continue our Karachay-Circassian odyssey driving past oddly located Soviet monuments, shiny new mosques, melancholic provincial towns and rickety country houses.
In the early evening we'll eventually reach the Russian resort town of Kislovodsk, where we’ll enjoy a well-deserved wellness break at the hotel spa.
Dinner and overnight in Kislovodsk.
DAY 6 - Russian Spas
We'll spend the day touring the historical Russian spa towns of Kislovodsk, Essentuki and Pyatigorsk.
These elegant cities used to be the romantic setting for rocambolesque intrigues, flings, duels and adventures during the second half of XIX century: such reputation still lives on thanks to the work of great Russian poets and novelists like Lermontov and Pushkin, who set many of their masterpieces in these stylish frontier towns.
Dinner and overnight in Essentuki.
DAY 7 - Kabardia
We'll start the day early heading to Terskol, a Soviet resort town lying under the shadow of Europe's highest peak: the mighty Elbrus.
Once in Terskol, we’ll have a walk around the village and then take a ride on the aerial tramway leading up to the Gara-Bashi viewpoint.
In the afternoon we'll visit the Soviet mining town of Tyrnyauz and the traditional village of Bylym.
We’ll then transfer to Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria, an autonomous republic named after the two main ethnicities inhabiting it: the Kabards, current descendents of the ancient Circassians, and the Balkars, Turkic-speaking people with Central Asian roots.
Nalchik Soviet stroll: Central Mosque, Friendship Square, Lenin Square, Park of Culture and Recreation, Parliament, Lenin Avenue, Deportation Memorial, Komsomol Sculpture and plenty of Soviet Monuments and Socialist architectonic shapes.
Dinner and overnight in Nalchik.
DAY 8 - Balkaria
Early in the morning we’ll enter the cultural heartland of the Balkar people, driving south across the breathtaking sceneries along the Chegem river.
Near the traditional Balkar village of Eltyubyu, we’ll also visit an impressive monumental necropolis of mysterious pre-Islamic origins.
We’ll then take a little-travelled shortcut through remote mountain passes and secluded valleys of sublime beauty: following the Kardan whitewater stream we’ll reach the postcard-like hamlets of Bezengi and Karasau before eventually entering the enchanting Cherek Gorge.
We’ll first stop at the Blue Lake, a pretty alpine body of water, whose real charm mostly comes from the melancholic Soviet holiday atmospheres of the tacky tourist complexes built around it.
Following the national road P291, arguably one of the most beautiful and at the same time hazardous routes in the former Soviet Union, we’ll then head for the very end of the gorge: the it-would-be-Chamonix-if-it-wasn’t-the-Caucasus settlement of Verknaya Balkaria.
We’ll conclude the day (and the tour itself) with a relaxing walk around the village before feasting on mountain delicacies freshly prepared on the spot by a chunky Balkar chef.
Dinner and overnight in Verknaya Balkaria.
DAY 9 - Flight back home or transfer to further destinations
After enjoying a last Balkar-style breakfast together we'll take care of your transfer to the airport/train station of choice.
For those flying out: we will arrange transfer to Nalchik International Airport for your flight back home.
For those wishing to take the train/bus to reach further destinations: we will arrange transport to the local train/bus station.
End of the tour.
4 to 9 participants: 1750 € per person
The price includes: double/twin room accommodation (breakfast included; single supplement: 18 euro/night), private transport in the region, entrance fees to the attractions listed in the itinerary, guiding and translation service.
The price does not include: international flights and any other flight not explicitly included in the tour price and itinerary, meals, drinks and tips, transport to and from the airport of arrival/departure (35 euros/ride), visas if required, entrance fees to attractions not listed in the itinerary, insurance.
The route of this tour has been carefully designed after several research trips in the region. It is, however, always possible to slightly modify the itinerary according to the needs and the suggestions of the participants. Our motto is flexibility. It is also possible to make the tour the other way around, starting in Nalchik and finishing in Krasnodar, if a Crimea extension is planned.