Wild Frontiers of North Caucasus
Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia, North Ossetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Abkhazia & many more
May 05 to 22, 2018
The Northern Caucasus is northern part of the Caucasus region between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea and within European Russia. North Caucasus, historically one of the hottest spots of the world, the land of famous warriors and strange archaic traditions, is turning to peace now. And we are going to explore it in the most beautiful time, when spring turns to summer. That is time of weddings, green forests with berries and abundant tables. We’ll visit most of the North Caucasian republics, including Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia and North Ossetia. We’ll move from wild East to developed West: from the Muslim republics of Dagestan, Chechnya and Ingushetia to the Christian part of the North Caucasus like North Ossetia, Kabardino-Balkaria and Abkhazia - the true treasures of Caucasus, keeping their ancient ways of life. Travelling west, we will visit medieval towers and gorgeous waterfall, witness the secrets of medieval martial arts which are kept with Ossetia’s pagans, enjoy the innocent beauty of the Elbrus peak. We’ll travel in subtropical Abkhazia where boasting treasures from so many historical periods (from Stone Age to Soviet era) once again rose from the ashes. Abkhazia is a partially recognized country, which was the pearl of Georgia in the Soviet period. Join us on this exploratory journey marveling at isolated villages, Tsar period buildings, orthodox monasteries and also cultures that have survived centuries without outside influence and some majestic landscapes.
Tour cost (Air and Land): $7,995.00
Per person sharing in double occupancy
Single Supplement: $650.00
Price based on a minimum of 6 participants and maximum of 10 participants
Credit for not using our included airfare $850.00
Escorted by Spiekermann Travel’s Tour Manager
Your tour does not include
- One visa needed for RUSSIA. (Multi Entry)
- Any fluctuations or increases on airport taxes, fuel surcharges and security fees.
- Alcoholic beverages and any soft drinks.
- Trip surcharge to operate below required minimum participants.
- Transfers if not arriving/departing on scheduled dates
- Dayroom or overnights necessitated by changes in airline schedules.
- Items of a personal nature (laundry, phone calls, emails, excess luggage charges, etc.).
- Travel insurance.
Your tour includes
- Roundtrip air from/to JFK via Istanbul into Moscow and out of Sochi including taxes and security fees (Based on current fare at time of printing).
- Internal flight Moscow to Makhachkala.
- All transfers and transportation by A/C minibus & 4x4 vehicles on some days.
- Accommodation in combination of 2, 3 or 4 stars categories & few 5* star hotels in larger cities.
- English speaking local guides throughout the whole trip.
- Meals as mentioned (B: Breakfast, L: Lunch & D: dinner)
- Mineral water during touring days on vehicle.
- Entrance fees to the museums and historical sites.
- Porterage of luggage (except at border crossings).
- Gratuities to local guides, drivers and restaurant staff for included meals.
Trip Grade: I Easy – In general reasonably paced sightseeing, easy walking and no particular physical challenges.
Trip Grade: II Active – From time to time some hikes, slightly more demanding walks at or to sites, few elevations, comfortable but busy schedule and some long drives.
Lodging Level: ** Delightful - Some stays in private homes or small inns that may lack western style amenities. They are clean but will entail sharing bathroom/toilet facilities (1 night in such home stays).
Lodging Level: *** - **** Superior - Lodges and hotels with additional amenities, refined service and comfort level acceptable to western standards. (2, 3 or 4 stars) and one 5 star hotel. Due to the nature of this trip, we are using the best available options in each city/town and region.
View Tour Itinerary
Saturday to Sunday, May 05 to 06
USA to Moscow
Depart your hometown arriving the next day at Moscow Airport. Upon arrival pass through customs and collect your luggage and be transferred to a nearby hotel for overnight.
Monday, May 07
Morning flight to Makhachkala and meet your guide at the airport and head to lunch followed by a visit the colorful bazaar and explore the historical city center. Visit the Dagestan Museum of Fine Arts, which had just gone through detailed restoration to provide a fitting home for its extensive and invaluable collection of local paintings, weaponry and jewelry with its lovely collection of clothing, houses and local society. Dagestan people are known for ethnic dancing skills so we will enjoy rehearsal of dance ensemble to touch tradition of the Caucasian dancing. Afterwards we will take a short drive to Derbent. Overnight at your hotel. (B,L,D)
Tuesday, May 08
Today we will be exploring the Old Town of Derbent with its abundance of historical UNESCO sights and ample chances of meeting local people. We will visit Naryn-Kala, the citadel of Derbent and walk around the narrow streets of the Old Town. Here we’ll find the oldest mosque of Russia dating back to the 8th century, and look at old baths or “hamams”. We are going to visit the Muslim shrine of a saint and Kyrkhlyar cemetery. This is a burial place of the 40 warrior-martyrs who according to the legend brought Islam to Derbent. After lunch, we’ll go to the Armenian Church turned into the Museum of Carpets and rugs. Overnight at hotel. (B,L,D)
Wednesday, May 09
Derbent-Kubachi (Victory Day WWII)
Today is victory day that commemorates the victory of Soviet Union over Nazi Germany in Great Patriotic War. We are going to take a look at Parade and after we will start our way to Kubachi village located up in the mountains. It is the most famous craft-village of Dagestan. Jewelry of the Kubachi region are the ones you will see exhibited at the Metropolitan museum in New York and in the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg. We’ll meet jewelry masters and explore their life. Have dinner with one of the jewelers. Overnight at homestay.(B,L,D)
Thursday, May 10
In the morning we will drive on 4x4 vehicles up to the mountains and start from Balkhar village. It is famous for a very archaic pottery tradition. We are going to explore it and make our own souvenirs from clay with our own hands. After lunch in the village we’ll climb with our jeeps to Avar Mountains to explore Chockh which is famous for the XIX century architecture then we’ll have some off-road driving in the historical area called Andalal. Local people in the XVIII century stopped the 50,000 soldiers’ army of Nadir Shah. We are going to visit the museum of that battle. Our final stop will be Gunib village. Overnight at hotel. (B,L,D)
Friday, May 11
Today we will explore historically important places - a village where Imam Shamil’ (the famous leader of gazavat in XIX century) was captured. This war lasted for 29 years. Then we will head to Chechen Mountains. On the way we’ll visit Karadakh gorge (1 hour walk for those who would hike) then we drive to Gotsatl village for lunch. Gotsatl village is known for its very fine and intricate jewelry craftsmanship. Later on we visit the Rakhata village specializing in the production of burkas (traditional Caucasian felt coats) and also we’ll visit a mill where villagers make urbech (traditional paste of flax seeds and apricot pits - Dagestani Nutella). Late in the evening we will arrive to Kezenoy-am Lake which is on the border with Chechnya. Overnight at hotel. (B,L,D)
Saturday, May 12
Kezenoyam- Grozny (Chechnya)
After breakfast we are driving to the Grozniy. Upon arrivel we will enjoy our sightseeing tour of Grozniy by visiting mosque known by the locals as “Heart of Chechnya”. It is one of the grandest mosques in Europe. We will enjoy lunch and panoramic view at the restaurant situated on the 33rd floor. After lunch we will take a short walk around the city-center. Also we will visit the museum of A. Kadyrov museum which is a recently built museum in the heart of Grozny, Chechnya. Overnight at hotel. (B,L,D)
Sunday, May 13
Grozny – Ingushetia
After breakfast we leave Grozny but before we will stop at the Dondi-Yurt museum which is a private ethnographic Museum of the Adam Satuev. After enjoying the excursion we will head to the mountains of Ingushetia. On the way we stop at the Tkhaba-erdy one of the most ancient Christian church of Russia and Vovnushki the most impressive towers of all Caucasus which were built on the top of the cliffs. During the right timing of the day we will see Djeyrakh and Targim valleys from the Tsey- loam pass. Overnight at the mountain resort. (B,L,D)
Monday, May 14
Ingushetia- Vladikavkaz (North Ossetia)
In the morning we will explore the complex of medieval towers known as “Erzi”. We will stop for the lunch at the local village and learn more about daily life of people in the village. Afterwards we will start our way to Vladikavkaz which is the capital city of the Republic of the North Ossetia. Check in to the hotel and free evening at the leisure. (B,L,D)
Tuesday, May 14
Today we will explore Vladikavkaz with its monuments, sculptures and historical buildings. We will see many examples of Russian Modern architecture, visit the National Museum and feel multicultural spirit of the city. Also we stop at Orthodox and Armenian Church. In the afternoon our main stop will be market of Vladikavkaz where we can try the local specialties and different types of cheese. In the evening we will enjoy traditional Ossetian music which will be performed by local ensemble. Overnight at hotel. (B,L,D)
Wednesday, May 16
After breakfast we will head to the mountains of Ossetia. We’ll visit the most famous sights: the greatest necropolis in the Caucasus (near Dargavs village), we will stop at the holiest sanctuary known as Rekom. Moreover, we’ll drive up to the Arkhonsky pass by 4x4 vehicles to enjoy the panoramic view and then go down to Dagom and Ursdon villages famous for their crypts and towers. Later on we will return back to Vladikavkaz. Overnight at hotel. (B,L,D)
Thursday, May 17
Vladikavkaz-Nalchik (Kabardino- Balkaria)
We will continue our adventure and drive to Kabardino Balkaria. We will familiarize ourselves with Kabardian culture by stopping to see the performance of the riders and masters of the traditional martial arts and also we will enjoy the old ethnical songs about the heroes. We will enjoy our picnic lunch and taste cuisine of the Kabardian warriors. Than we will continue our way to Black river village where we will meet local winemakers and taste local wine. Arrive to Nalchik in the evening. Dinner and overnight at hotel. (B,L,D)
Friday, May 18
Nalchik- Mount Elbrus- Pyatigorsk
After breakfast we will start our way to see the highest mountain in the Russia and Europe. Our 4x4 vehicles will take us to the “Prielbrusye” National Park so we could enjoy beautiful waterfalls, take thermal bath and if we will be lucky with the weather than we can enjoy view of the Elbrus pick from the foothills. After lunch we will continue our way to Pyatigorsk which is the Russian town located in Caucasus and it has spirit of the Russian classical literature and music. Overnight at hotel. (B,L,D)
Saturday, May 19
Pyatigorsk- Mezmay village
Pyatigorsk is a resort-city located in Stavropol region, Russia. It is the oldest spa and mud resort of federal importance as well as an industrial, commercial, scientific, cultural, and tourist center of the Caucasian Mineral Waters eco-resort region. We will make several sightseeing stops in the city by stopping at Lermontov monument, “Oryol” Sculpture. The sculpture depicts an eagle fighting a snake - the official symbol of the Caucasian Mineral Waters. Our next stop will be Lermontov Gallery. In the early 20th century, it was decided to build a fashionable construction of metal and glass. The gallery was opened in May, 1902. It was named after the Great Russian poet Lermontov. After we will head to Mezmay village, upon arrival we will enjoy Cossack cuisine. Overnight at hotel. (B,L,D)
Sunday, May 20
Mezmay village- Sochi
Mezmay village is a mountain resort which is located in Krasnodar region. We will have reasonable relaxed day and we will do light trekking in the surrounding areas. In the evening will take bullet train “Lastochka” from Khadyzhenskaya station to Sochi. Upon arrival transfer to hotel for overnight and dinner. (B,L,D)
Monday, May 21
Sochi - Sukhumi (Abkhazia)
After having breakfast, we will drive to Abkhazia and visit the Old Gagra. We will walk and feel the spirit of imperial Russia at this resort which was created as a Russian Riviera. Our next stop is Pitsunda which was also luxury resort town in the days of the USSR in the 1960s. It is known for its pine forests and also for the first Christian community created here (III century AD). Then head towards a traditional Abkhazian village where we will have lunch with the locals. Our next stop is New Athos. Hiking up Anakopia hill, we visit the 8’Th century ruins of Anakopia fortress. We will make stop at New Athos to visit cave and the monastery which was the biggest Orthodox center on the Black sea. Arrive to Sukhumi in the evening. Overnight at Hotel. (B,L,D)
Tuesday, May 22
Our last day in the North Caucasus and we will spend relaxed morning by taking a walk in the historical part of the town, and enjoy our lunch in the city. After the lunch we will head towards the Russian border. On the way if the time will permit we’ll visit Pitsundo-Myussersky reserve (the only reserve in Abkhazia, placed on the shore of the sea) and we will reach a wild beach by motor-boat. The forest surrounding the beach is famous for Iberian oaks, treelike heath and arbutus. Have some time to stroll and take pictures then we are back on the mainland to head to Russian border. Cross the border and depart from Sochi to USA.
We (STS) reserve the right to change hotels, restaurants or the order of activities if/as needed