Overland trip to Elbrus (highest volcano in Europe)
Duration: 12 days / 11 nights
Driving distance: 1400 km
Types of driving: 40% asphalt and 60% off-road
Type of tour: Self driving tour
Vehicles: UAZ PATRIOT
Minimum driver age: 21
Group size: from 6 to 25 person
Accommodation: Best hotels on the way (Twin/Double occupancy)
Meals: 3 times a day
Best time: May - October
Day 1. Moscow
Arrival to Moscow. Pick-up at airport arrivals hall. Transfer to the hotel, check-in. Rest of the day at leisure. In the mood for sightseeing in Moscow? We are happy to offer you some ideas.
Option 1: Walking tour of Moscow city center: Red Square, followed by a short introduction to Moscow metro (1,5-2 hrs). You will see St.Basil’s cathedral (exterior), GUM mall , Kazan church, State History Museum and the Moscow metro (Revolution Square station).
Option 2: Guided tour of the most iconic streets and architecture with a private vehicle (3-3,5 hrs). Highlights: Red Square and St.Basil's Cathedral, Bolshoi Theatre and the Alexander Garden, the State Duma and Russian Govt buildings, Lubyanka Square with KGB HQ, the Russian State Library, Sparrow Hills, Moscow-City business district, Poklonnaya Hill, Victory Park, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Option 3: Moscow River Cruise on the amazing Radisson yacht (2,5 hrs). Accommodation in a hotel (Meals: - /-/-)
Day 2. Route: Mineralnye Vody - Verhnya Balkaria - Blue Lakes (170 km). Distance: 170 km
We take the first flight to Mineralnye Vody. The cars will be waiting for you at the airport there. The drive starts after a short briefing and acquaintance with the team. We are to drive through several mountain gorges and passes. Lunch in the village of Upper Balkari.
There we will visit the ancient fortified tower houses preserved in the Caucasus region. An impressive sight against the background of the gorgeous scenery. Each tower has its own intriguing history and belongs to the oldest clans of the area.
After exploring the towers and the Cherek Gorge, we will head to the place of our night stay at Blue Lakes. Accommodation in a tourist base. (B/L/D). Picnic lunch.
Day 3. Route: Blue Lakes – Nalchik. Distance: 80-100 km
We will stroll around after breakfast. The lakes can rightfully claim to be unique. All the lakes here are of karst origin with crystal clear water of aquamarine color. The most surprising part is their depth. The largest lake is only 230 meters long and 135 meters wide, but its depth is 368 meters. Only Lake Baikal and Lake Teletskoye are deeper. This lake is very popular among divers.
On this day we will overcome the highest mountain road of Kabardino-Balkaria and drive through the Shkolny Pass of 3,150 meters. In case of clear weather and good visibility we will see the snowy giants of the Caucasus range with a breathtaking panorama of the five-thousand mater high Koshtan-Tau and Dykh-Tau. Our path runs along the largest glacier of Kabardino-Balkaria - Bezingi. By evening we will reach Nalchik and stay there overnight. Accommodation in a hotel. (B/L/D) (good 4* hotel). Picnic lunch.
Day 4. Route: Nalchik - Azau (Elbrus region). Distance: 130 km
After breakfast we will drive to the Chegem Gorge to see its famous waterfalls. Then we’ll head to the Elbrus region through the Aktopark Pass and get to the highest peak of Europe – Mt. Elbrus (5642 m). It is a crime not to take a walk to the volcano when driving around Elbrus. That's why we will take the cable car to get to the highest station of Gara-Bashi (Barrels shelter, 3 780 m). A gorgeous panoramic view opens from this point in good weather.
After that we return to the Azau Glade and spend the night in a comfortable hotel with wonderful atmosphere. Climbers from all over the world come here to conquer Elbrus – a chance to meet other adventurers! Accommodation in a mountain lodge (B/L/D)
Day 5. Route: Azau - Kislovodsk. Distance: 160 km
In the morning we will spend some time strolling around. Then we’ll drive from the Azau valley to the city of Kislovodsk (160 km). If weather allows, we can admire the beautiful views, going along the Kingol Pass (3250 m). This day we will drive along the mountain roads and even along the bottom of the Canyon, seeing amazing waterfalls and cliffs. Further on, we will head to the center of Kislovodsk. Check- in at the hotel and walk around the cozy city.I
n 1803 Tsar Alexander I of Russia ordered the construction of the military station which became Kislovodsk. The site took its name from the many mineral springs around the city. The settlement gained town status in 1903. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Kislovodsk was a fashionable spa that attracted many musicians, artists, and members of the Russian aristocracy. In the special rooms one can take not only mineral baths, but different kinds of a spa sessions, saunas, massage, and mud wraps. Accommodation in a hotel (B/L/D)
Day 6. Route: Kislovodsk - Kamennomostsky. Distance: 365 km
We wake up refreshed in the morning, have breakfast, take a short walk along the beautiful city and park and start our journey. We have to drive to the village of Kamennomostsky (365 km). If the weather allows we will visit the scenic spots and, perhaps, do another small off-road patch. The most pleasant point of the day is the Arkhyz gorge, where we try to ascend to the Sofia waterfalls. The road to the waterfalls is very beautiful , with off-road parts. We will even have to ford across the river. Usually the road is not completed without someone either sticking in the mud or being unable to drive up a rocky road. We will likely use special equipment. Accommodation in a hotel. (B/L/D). Lunch as a picnic.
Day 7. Adygea (Kamennomostsky). Lagonaki Plateau.
Most of the day will be devoted to walks and activities. We will visit a cave with hot springs and take a walk through the forest to reach the Lagonaki Plateau.
We will pass through the forest path along a mountain river to see a cascade of waterfalls. If the weather allows we will definitely go swimming there.
After such an active day, we will return to the hotel to have sone rest. Should you have enough energy left, you will be able to swim in the thermal springs and relaxing warm baths. Accommodation in a hotel. (B/L/D)
Day 8. Adygea (Kamennomostsky). Visit Dolmens.
Today we give ourselves a good night's sleep. We will have breakfast and then continue our off-road challenge. First we visit the Dolmens (very interesting megalithic tombs), then go on to see the ammonites scattered along the riverbank. After that we’ll drive along the valleys and the forest, our goal for the day being to drive up the Una-Koz plateau.
Our way runs across several mountain river wades. In the evening we will come back to the hotel. Accommodation in a hotel. (B/L/D)
Day 9. Route: Kamennomostsky – Guamka (off-road). Distance: 80 km
The driving distance of the day is very short , but full of adventures and off-road bits. We will have to cover 80 kilometers through the entire day.
It’s mostly forest roads, but sometimes the path goes in the absence of roads – only mud and stones. Still the special off-road equipment is always there to help.
Having reached the Guamka Gorge, we will leave our cars in the parking lot, and start a short train tour. It is important not to miss the last train that goes to the Guamka Gorge, otherwise we will have to go back on foot. Accommodation in a hotel. (B/L/D). Picnic lunch.
Day 10. Route: Guamka - Sochi – Roza Hutor. Distance: 270 km
This day we head from the Guamka Gorge towards Sochi (270 km). We will visit several beautiful canyons with waterfalls along the way. Some time will be devoted to short relaxing walks as well. We will drive up to the most interesting view by cars to observe the fascinating vicinity from the heights. We will travel along the coast of the Black Sea, and if we are lucky, we get to see a beautiful sea sunset. After check-in at the hotel we will have an opportunity to take a walk along the picturesque streets of the most modern ski resort in Europe. The resort was built from scratc in 2014 for the Winter Olympic Games. Accommodation in a hotel. (B/L/D)
Day 11. Route: Off-road day in Sochi area
This day starts with a drive up to the Khmelevsky lakes.
The route is unpredictable as the road meandering through the mountain forest is sometimes washed out by rains. Having admired the lakes, we will rise to an altitude of about 1,800 m, where you can walk along the Alpine meadows, see many flowers included in the Red List and enjoy the greatest panorama of the Western Caucasus.
After that one more stretch of off-road driving awaits, a lot of pleasure for the off-road driving fans. Back to the hotel by evening. Accommodation in a hotel. (B/L/D)
Day 12. End of route. Departure
Departure to Moscow. If some of the guests are willing to stay for one more day in Sochi and do some canyoning, or visit the renowned Sky Park, we could postpone their flight to Moscow for one more day. SkyPark is the new and unique high altitude amusement park. Moreover, it is a joint operation by Russian partners and the New Zealand-based AJ Hackett International, who are famous for bungee jumping projects all over the world.