remote and secretive mountain Republics on the edge of europe
Kabardino-Balkaria – North Ossetia – Chechnya – Ingushetia – Dagestan
Regular monthly departures: this tour is offered regularly once a month. 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 give you a wide 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 - Russian Spa Towns
In the morning you will meet our tour guide in the lobby of the designated hotel in Mineralnye Vody (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).
Introductory briefing about the region, the route and the set of rules to observe while travelling in the North Caucasus.
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 Mineralnye Vody.
DAY 2 - Kabardino-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.
In the afternoon we'll visit the Soviet mining town of Tyrnyauz and then transfer to Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria, an autonomous republic in the Russian Caucasus mainly inhabited by the descendents of the ancient Circassians.
Nalchik walking tour: Central Mosque, Friendship Square, Lenin Square, Park of Culture and Recreation, Parliament, Green Market, National Museum, Lenin Avenue, Deportation Memorial and plenty of Soviet Monuments.
Dinner and overnight in Nalchik.
DAY 3 - North Ossetia
In the morning we'll head to Vladikavkaz, the capital of North Ossetia-Alania, a peculiar autonomous republic, where ethnolinguistic Persian roots blend together with Christian Orthodox traditions.
We'll break the 2-hour journey in Beslan, a small Ossetian city that sadly became famous for the 2004 school siege.
We'll then visit the somber remnants of the school and of the nearby memorial-cum-graveyard.
Quick lunch in the city centre in front of one of the last Stalin statues in the whole former USSR and transfer to Vladikavkaz.
Vladikavkaz walking tour: Lenin Statue, Prospekt Mira, Soviet Memorials, Ossetian Churches and Grand Central Mosque.
Dinner and overnight in Vladikavkaz.
DAY 4 - North Ossetia
We'll devote this day to Tsey, a Soviet mountain resort renowned for the pristine nature of its surroundings and the mystic atmospheres of the ancient Ossetian temples scattered in its woods.
On the scenic way to Tsey we will stop in Mizur, a rough-and-ready quintessential Soviet mining town.
Once in Tsey, you will be spoilt for choice: for sporty ones there are plenty of hiking trails, of various length and difficulty, waiting to be trodden; whereas the bon viveurs will be able to indulge in culinary pleasures and lazy walks in the forest.
Dinner and overnight in Tsey.
DAY 5 - Ossetia - Ingushetia
We'll move eastwards through a breathtaking mountain scenery and head to the tiny and isolated Republic of Ingushetia to reach the remote mountain hamlet of Dzheyrakh, famous for its medieval watchtowers looking at the Great Caucasus Range.
On the way to Dzheyrakh, before leaving Ossetian territory, we'll drive to the mighty Fiagdon Valley and stop for a picnic lunch at Dargavs, the Caucasian city of the Dead, a monumental necropolis hidden set against a lovely alpine backdrop.
Dinner and overnight with a local family in Dzheyrakh.
DAY 6 - Ingushetia - Chechnya
Morning hiking along one of the many wild trails crisscrossing the area.
For the lazy ones: chillout morning with the locals.
After lunch we'll head back to the plains and visit Nazran, the largest town of Ingushetia, and Magas the surreal brand-new capital of the republic, where we'll pay a visit to the Memorial of the Ingush Genocide.
We'll then head straight to Grozny, the capital of Chechnya.
Evening stroll through the downtown.
Dinner and overnight in Grozny.
Day 7 - Chechnya
In the morning we'll head back to the mountains, this time to the ancient chechen village of Itum-Kale.
Traditional Chechen lunch in the mountains.
Walk around the village and short hike along one of the many trails crisscrossing the beautiful surroundings.
Back in Grozny we'll then have a guided tour of the Grand Central Mosque and pay a visit to the National Museum and the adjacent memorial.
Dinner and overnight in Grozny.
DAY 8 - Chechnya
We'll devote this day to visit some of the most significant places in Chechnya: Tsentaroy (the hometown of Chechen president and strongman Ramzan Kadyrov), Urus-Martan (ethnographic museum), Argun and Gudermes (booming oil-towns with impressive mosques and an evocative WWII memorials).
Chillout afternoon in Grozny for souvenir shopping and/or coffee pleasures.
Lunch, dinner and overnight in Grozny.
DAY 9 - Chechnya - Dagestan
Early in the morning we'll leave Grozny and head to Kezenoyam, a magnificent mountain lake surrounded by high peaks and green pastures.
On our way to the lake we'll stop for some food at the central bazaar of Vedeno, a small town notoriously known for having headquartered the frightful Chechen rebels and Arab mujahedeen commanded by Al-Khattab and Shamil Basayev, Russia's very own version of Osama bin Laden.
After having spent some relaxing time on the lake, we'll pay a quick visit to the nearby ghost village of Khoy and move further east to the highlands of Dagestan, the most feared and least travelled republic in the whole former Soviet Union.
We'll travel scenic mountain roads visiting several traditional villages along the way before finally arriving in the mountain hamlet of Gunib, the very place where the legendary Imam Shamil made his last stand against the tsarist forces during the XIX century Caucasian Wars.
Dinner and overnight in Gunib.
DAY 10 - Dagestan
We'll continue our journey in the Dagestani mountains enjoying the eternal atmospheres of ancient settlements, abandoned ghost towns and stunning natural sceneries before finally reaching Kubachi, one of the most famous traditional centres for the production of silver jewellery in the world.
From Kubachi we'll move on to Derbent, one of the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world.
Derbent walking tour: Old Citadel, Naryn Kala Fortress, Friday Mosque, Armenian Church and the Park of Soviet Military Glory.
Dinner and overnight in Derbent.
DAY 11 - Dagestan
In the morning we'll move north along the Caspian Highway and head to Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan.
On the way we'll stop for a seafood lunch in Kaspiysk, a gritty post-Soviet port town full of nostalgia.
Makhachkala walking tour: Lenin's Square, Central Bazaar, Grand Mosque, Drama Theater, National Museum, WWII Memorial and many Soviet-era buildings.
Dinner and overnight in Makhachkala.
DAY 12 - Flight back home or transfer to further destinations
After enjoying a last lavish Dagestani-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 Makhachkala 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 train/bus station.
End of the tour.
4 to 9 participants: 2300 €
The price includes: double/twin room accommodation (breakfast included; single supplement: 20 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 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 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 round, starting from Makhachkala and finishing in Minvody.
Please note: It’s advisable to arrive in Mineralnye Vody 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. Mineralnye Vody has been chosen as the starting point of this route because the local airport is one of the busiest in the region and a relatively easy and cheap one to reach from Europe / North America or Moscow. Alternatively you can also choose to land directly in Nalchik or Beslan and we'll then collect you for an additional fee of only 15 euros. Please contact us to learn more about that.
Airport pickup/transfer in Mineralnye Vody and Makhachkala 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
Southern Caucasus and/or Western Caucasus