ancient traditions, obscure legends and the epic beauty of western caucasus
Krasnodar – Adygea – Karachay-Cherkessia – Kabardino-Balkaria
This tour is offered on a regular basis from April to October. Let us know your desired departure month by clicking on the ask-us button below and we will match your preferences with the relevant scheduled group departure. If you are unsure about the month you wish to travel in, 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 friends and there are 5 or more of you, you can set your own dates and we will organise a tour just for you without charging any additional fee. If you are travelling solo or with less than 4 companions we will 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).
Krasnodar walking tour: Monument to Catherine the Great, Cossacks Memorial, Red Street, St. George's Church, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and plenty of Soviet concrete architecture.
Lunch, dinner and overnight in Krasnodar.
DAY 2 - Adygean Lowlands
Early in the morning we'll depart from Krasnodar and head to 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.
At lunchtime we'll eventually reach Maykop, the capital of Adygea.
Maykop sightseeing: Grand Mosque, Republican Museum, Central Bazaar, Soviet Train Station, Lenin Park and WWII Memorial.
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 2-hour long journey in Mishoko, a tiny rural locality located right next to a stunning rocky gorge that - time permitting - we'll be able to explore.
At lunchtime we'll reach Guzeripl, the main village in the area.
We'll then devote the whole day to the exploration of the Lago-Naki Natural Park.
For the athletic ones: challenging hike in the hills.
For the lazier ones: easy hike and chillout afternoon with the locals.
For an extra fee is also the possibility to engage in different sport activities organised by the local resort such as rafting, biking and even paragliding.
Dinner and overnight in Guzeripl.
DAY 4 - Karachay Mountains
In the morning we'll Adygea and head to Arkhyz, a mountain village in the neighbouring Republic of Karachay-Cherkessia, the homeland of the Circassian and Karachay people.
Besides the routine pauses for food, toilet and random landscape pictures, we'll break the 6-hour long journey in several traditional Circassian hamlets along the way.
In the vicinity of the village we'll visit the Zelenchuksky Churches, an archaeological preserve extending around the ruins of Nizhnearkhyzskoe Gorodishche, 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 - Cherkessia
We'll leave Arkhyz in the morning and begin an ultimate tour of Karachay-Cherkessia.
We'll first stop in Teberda, to visit a pretty hilltop church from the 10th century, and then head to Karachaevsk, the cultural capital of the Karachay people.
From Karachaevsk we'll drive east to the traditional Karachay village of Mara, a stunning place surrounded by photogenic green pastures.
After lunch we'll continue our Circassian odyssey driving past oddly located Soviet monuments, shiny new mosques and rickety country houses.
Our last stop will be in Psyzh, a large rural settlements mainly inhabited by the Abazins, an ethnic group of the Northwest Caucasus, closely related to the Abkhaz and Circassian people.
In the late afternoon we'll eventually reach Cherkessk, the capital of the republic, where we'll enjoy an evening stroll through the archetypical Soviet downtown.
Dinner and overnight in Cherkessk.
DAY 6 - Russian Spas
We'll spend the day touring the historical Russian spa towns of Mineralnye Vody, Kislovodsk and Pyatigorsk.
These elegant cities used to be the romantic setting for rocambolesque intrigues, flings, duels and adventures during the later 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 Pyatigorsk.
DAY 7 - Kabardia
Morning transfer to Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria, an autonomous republic, the name of which derives from the two main ethnic groups living in the region: the Circassian-speaking Kabardians and the mongol-turkic Balkarians.
Traditional Kabardian lunch on a hilltop overlooking the city.
Nalchik walking tour: Central Mosque, Friendship Square, Lenin Square, Park of Culture and Recreation, Parliament, Green Market, National Museum, Lenin Avenue, Deportation Memorial and lots of Soviet Monuments.
Visit to the lesser known but definitely more authentic Kabardian towns of Baksan and Nartkala.
Dinner and overnight in Nalchik.
DAY 8 - Balkaria
We'll start the day heading to Terskol, a Soviet resort town lying under the shadow of Europe's highest peak: the mighty Elbrus.
We'll have a walk around the village and then take a ride on the aerial tramway leading up to the Gara-Bashi viewpoint.
The Southern part of the republic is the homeland of the Balkars, Turkic-speaking mountain people, who were forcibly deported to Siberia and Kazakhstan during Stalin's darkest years.
In the afternoon we'll visit the Soviet mining town of Tyrnyauz and some traditional Balkar settlements set against a gorgeous backdrop of green slopes and high peaks.
In the evening we'll return to Nalchik and indulge in an aperitivo of beer and shashlik in the city park.
Dinner and overnight in Nalchik.
DAY 9 - Flight back home or transfer to further destinations
After enjoying a last Kabardian-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 €
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.
Please note: It’s advisable to arrive in Krasnodar one day before the actual tour begins. You should notice, however, that you’ll have to take care of your accommodation for any day and night preceding the actual start date of the tour. Without any additional charge we will readily and gladly reserve a room for you at our hotel of choice and you’ll be able to pay for it by cash or credit card once you check-in. If your flight lands on the same day as the tour begins and you prefer to rest a bit before going out sightseeing, you will then meet your tour guide and the rest of the group at the designated hotel in the late afternoon.
Airport pickup/transfer in Krasnodar and Nalchik is available for just 35 euros per ride.
WHERE THE HECK AM I TRAVELLING TO?
BELOW YOU CAN SEE THE DIFFERENT TOUR STAGES MARKED ON A MAP OF THE REGION YOU ARE GOING TO EXPLORE WITH US
POSSIBLE TOUR COMBINATIONS FOR THIS ITINERARY INCLUDE