SECESSIONIST MOUNTAIN PARADISE
Vladikavkaz – Tsey – Tskhinvali – Leningor – Goret – Dargvas
The following itinerary involves a visit to one or more separatist provinces and/or contested territories. Our tours are aimed to an educated clientele animated by a genuine cultural and historical interest for the little-known regions we offer within our portfolio of post-Soviet destinations. By no means we endorse or support political parties, ideological movements, armed factions and interest groups involved in the military and diplomatic conflicts afflicting the regions we travel to. Specifically we do not support territorial separatism and we strongly reject any form of violence. De facto independent but the de jure unrecognised states shall be fully considered as constituent entities of the country they seceded from. We firmly believe in true dialogue and unbiased fact-checking as the only viable path for a durable peace and stability in the region. In this regard our tours shall be seen as an instrument of knowledge and awareness for the erudite clientele we cater for. Political activists, Putinists, propagandists and biased publicists of any sort are not welcome to join our tours.
Bespoke tours to South Ossetia: the following itinerary refers to our most popular route in South Ossetia. In case you are interested in a particularly remote area, secretive ethnicity, unusual activity and/or off-the-beaten-path attraction within South Ossetia or if you are just looking for an hit-and-run visit to Tskhinvali and its surroundings, we will easily meet your needs with a unique tour individually designed according to your preferences. Get in touch for more info on our private tours to South Ossetia!
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 Essentuki.
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.
Besides admiring the graceful lines and the fine decorative elements adorning the luxurious baths from the late Tsarist epoch, we will, of course, also explore the vast plethora of Soviet-era cyclopic modernist resorts rising high over the historic cityscapes.
Dinner and overnight in Essentuki.
DAY 2 - North Ossetia: Beslan and Vladikavkaz
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 Elkhotovo (for the unmissable Memorial to the Unbending Defenders of the Elkhotov Heights) and in Beslan, a small Ossetian city that sadly became well-known around the world media during the dramatic 2004 school siege.
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 city walk: Soviet monuments, Tsarist architecture, Soviet concrete giants, traditional Ossetian churches and ancient mosques.
Dinner and overnight in Vladikavkaz.
DAY 3 - North Ossetia: Tsey
We’ll leave Vladikavkaz after breakfast and head to the Ossetian mountains, stopping en route in Gizel, home to the impressive memorial complex erected to Petr Barbashev (hero of the Soviet Union), in Mizur, a rough-and-ready quintessential Soviet mining town, and, of course, in Tamisk, for a mandatory visit to the larger-than-life monument to Saint George the Slayer.
We'll then devote the entire 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 around the surrounding forests.
Once in Tsey, you will be spoilt for choice: for the 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 through the forest.
Dinner and overnight in Tsey.
DAY 4 - South Ossetia: Northern Villages
We will leave Tsey early in the morning and drive to the internationally unrecognised but de-facto independent Republic of South Ossetia.
Besides the routine pauses for food, toilet and random landscape pictures, we'll break the journey to visit melancholic roadside Ossetian villages and their rather unexpected natural and monumental attractions: sulphuric waters, Stalin portraits and forlorn Soviet memorials.
Border Crossing: before lunch we'll cross the border into South Ossetia. Unrecognised states are much safer and friendlier than you might think and we will take care of all the border formalities; however, this is a very sensitive area and you shall strictly follow the (rather simple) instructions your guide will brief you about.
After entering the South Ossetia we'll head to the mountain hamlet of Goret.
Visit to the village and walk in the nature to admire stunning gorges and majestic peaks.
Dinner and overnight with a local family in Goret.
DAY 5 - South Ossetia: Tskhinvali and Leningor
From Goret we’ll drive towards Leningor, a small Ossetian town right next to the frontline with Georgia.
We'll then visit the ruined old town, the old castle and the colourful food market, which is usually full of Georgian fruits and greens.
After lunch we'll move to Tskhinvali, formerly Staliniri, South Ossetia’s war-ravaged capital.
Tskhinvali walking tour: Old Town, Tskhinvali Cathedral, Jewish quarter, National Museum and Farmers Market.
Dinner and overnight in Tskhinvali.
DAY 6 - South Ossetia: Towers and Monasteries
In the morning we'll explore the ancient towers and churches of the Znaursky district.
Lunch with a local family in the picturesque village of Tsorbis.
In the afternoon we’ll then go truly off the beaten path: haunting WWII memorials in Rustavi, eery ruins in Traskharo, and the magnificent Tamara monastery, the biggest of its kind within the unrecognised international borders of South Ossetia.
Dinner and overnight in Tskhinvali.
DAY 7 - Flight back home or transfer to further destinations
After enjoying a last Ossetian-style breakfast together we'll take care of your transfer to the airport/train station of choice.
For those flying out: transfer to Mineralnye Vody International Airport for your flight back home.
For those wishing to take the train/bus to reach further destinations: transfer to the local train/bus station.
End of the tour.
4 to 8 participants: 1740 € per person
The price includes: double/twin room accommodation (breakfast included; single supplement: 18 euro/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 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.
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 definitely the easiest and cheapest one to reach from Europe / North America. Alternatively you can also choose to land directly in Beslan-Vladikavkaz. Please contact us to learn more about that.
Airport pickup/transfer in Mineralnye Vody is available for just 35 euros per ride.
Disclaimer: the designations employed and the presentation of the material on this website do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of our company concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The territory of the Tskhinvali Region (formerly: South Ossetian Autonomous Region) is internationally recognised as integral part of Georgia. Regardless of your/our position on the issue and for all travel-related intents and purposes, however, the territory of the Tskhinvali Region (formerly: South Ossetian Autonomous Region) is no longer under the control of Georgian authorities. This tour is not operated by Soviet Tours.
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
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