high mountains and legendary people
Makhachkala – Gotsatl' – Gunib – Chokh – Kumukh – Tsovkra – Kubachi – Derbent
This tour is offered on a regular monthly basis. 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.
The following itinerary refers to our most popular route in Dagestan. This diverse and fascinating land, almost a Soviet version of Afghanistan, greets its temerarious guests with a cornucopia of natural, historical and cultural wonders. In case you are interested in a particularly remote area, secretive ethnicity, unusual activity and/or off-the-beaten-path attraction within the Autonomous Republic of Dagestan or if you are just looking for an hit-and-run visit to Makhachkala and its surroundings, we can easily meet your needs with a unique tour individually designed according to your preferences. Thanks to our deep knowledge of the territory and longstanding collaboration with independent local guides we are able to offer you a wide range of tailored routes and bespoke itineraries across and beyond the high peaks and gentle slopes of legendary Dagestan. We also regularly cater for biologists, conservationists, ethnologists, historians and documentarists interested in conducting field research in the region. Get in touch for more info on our private tours to Dagestan!
DAY 1 - Makhachkala
Our tour guide will meet you in the arrival hall of Makhachkala International Airport (exact meeting time will be communicated well in advance per email in accordance to your flight schedule).
Introductory briefing about the region, the route and the set of rules to observe while travelling in Dagestan.
Makhachkala Soviet and post-Soviet sightseeing: Lenin's Square, Central Bazaar, City Beach, Grand Mosque, Drama Theater, National Museum, WWII Memorial, socialist mosaics and a vast array of architectonically striking Soviet-era buildings.
Lunch, dinner and overnight in Makhachkala.
DAY 2 to DAY 5 - Dagestani Mountains
Scenic mountain drive to the central mountain districts, heartland of Dagestan’s indigenous people.
We’ll spend four days in the area touring traditional mountain villages (auls), ancient ruins, crumbling mosques, Soviet monuments, natural wonders and breathtaking landscapes.
The long list of remote settlements we’ll visit includes: Gunib (the very place where the legendary Imam Shamil made his last stand against the Russian Empire), Kumukh (cultural capital of the Lak people), Chokh (picturesque Avar settlement of antique mansions and vertigo-inducing escarpments), Kubachi (mountain town renowned for the production of silver jewellery), Khunzakh (ancient fortresses and postcard-like vistas), and Tsovkra (famous for its curious tightrope-walking tradition) as well as the ghost villages of Gamsutl’ and Kala-Koreysh.
Less famous but equally fascinating hamlets we’ll tour include Tsurib, Obokh, Gotsatl’, and Sogratl.
During our time in the area we'll have the unique chance to meet with local mountain dwellers (farmers, herders, artisans and artists alike), proud and energetic representatives of the vast array of different ethnicities inhabiting the republic: Dargins, Avars, Laks, Azeris, Kumyks and more; just have a look at any ethnographic map of the Caucasus and you will immediately understand why Dagestan is also known as the Soviet Babel.
Dinners and overnights in traditional Dagestani guesthouses.
DAY 6 - Derbent
Today we’ll descend from the mountains to Derbent, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and home to Dagestan’s only UNESCO world heritage site.
We’ll devote the entire day to Derbent and its many sights (Old Citadel, Naryn Kala Fortress, Friday Mosque, Armenian Church, Lenin Statue, Park of Soviet Military Glory, Central Bazaar) and then hit the city beach for a shashlyk dinner with romantic views on the Caspian Sea.
Lunch, dinner and overnight in Derbent.
DAY 7 - Buynaksk
We’ll take the coastal road back to Makhachkala and visit the archetypical Soviet port town of Kaspiysk along the way.
Here we’ll be able to admire two truly mesmerising Soviet-era sights: the abandoned Dagdizel Plant №8 (a torpedo factory emerging from the Caspian waters like a dystopian manmade island coming straight out of Kevin Reynolds’ Waterworld) and the photogenic rusty remnants of an original Soviet ekranoplan (a larger-than-life ground-effect vehicle used to travel across the Caspian Sea).
We’ll then make a detour to Buynaksk, Dagestan’s former capital, and stop at the Sulak Canyon, the deepest gorge in the Russian Federation.
In the late afternoon we’ll head further north to Sary-Kum, the largest sand dune in the former Soviet Union, where we’ll admire our last Dagestani sunset before eventually returning to Makhachkala for the evening.
Dinner and overnight in Makhachkala.
DAY 8 - Flight back home or transfer to further destinations
After enjoying a final lavish Dagestani breakfast together we'll take care of your transfer to the airport/train station of choice.
For those flying out: transfer to Makhachkala International Airport for your flight back home.
For those wishing to take the train/bus to reach further destinations: transfer to the train/bus station.
If you are fit enough you can also prolong your stay in the republic and undertake a challenging but extremely rewarding 5-day 4x4-trip up to the extremely remote mountain Lezgian hamlets of southwestern Dagestan, close to the border with Azerbaijan; please contact us to learn more about this option.
End of the tour.
3 to 8 participants: 1690 € per person
The price includes: double/twin room accommodation (breakfast included; single supplement: 18 euros/night), private transport in the region (jeep or minivan), entrance fees to the attractions listed in the itinerary, guiding and translation service.
The price does not include: international flights, meals, drinks and tips, 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.