Roads of the Caucasus

The Junction of Earth and Sky

13 days
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Roads of the Caucasus

Makhachkala – Derbent - Gunib - Kyzyl-Yurt – Lake Kezenoy-Am - Veduchi – Grozny - Vladikavkaz - Harizdmin – the Upper Tsey - Digorsky gorge - Kislovodsk - Mineralnye Vody
Join us and explore North Caucasus to the max on a 13-day journey across Dagestan, Chechnya and North Ossetia. See the deepest canyon in Europe, the impressive thousand-year old fortress in Derbent and the remains of a WIG craft on the shore of the Caspian Sea. Taste the cocktail of the thrilling gorges, amazing cliffs, great local food and wine.

Duration: 13 days / 12 nights

Driving distance: 1500 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 20 person

Accommodation: Best hotels on the way (Twin/Double occupancy)

Meals: 3 times a day

Best time: April - November

Day 1. Route: Arrival in Makhachkala. Transfer to Derbent. Distance: 133 km

Meeting at the airport. Transfer to Derbent. Nature has been generous to this picturesque corner -a sunny, warm climate, healing water, charming landscapes and, of course, the majestic Caspian Sea. By the way, we will see The Caspian Sea more than once in today's journey.

Upon arrival in Derbent, we will drive to the walls of the Naryn Kala Fortress - the oldest preserved fortress in Russia. Derbent is a treasure; it has been in the sphere of interests of the largest empires more than once. It passed from one empire to another as if it was a ring of power, and once it even existed as an independent Derbent emirate. The powerful fortress matched the city. And when you see the tower, you begin to understand why it struck fear in hearts and minds of people who wanted to take it by force. After admiring the sights, we set off to the hotel.

Accommodation in a hotel (Meals: - /L/D)

Day 2. Route: Derbent - Gunib. Distance: 280 km

After breakfast, we leave to meet new adventures. First, we will drive to the shore of the Caspian Sea –Lun-class ekranoplan was moved here in 2020. It looks like a huge aquatic beast -- a bizarre creation more at home in the deep than above the waves. This is a hybrid of a ship and an airplane. The giant, of a 5-storey building size, impresses the imagination with its power. It was built back in the 80s and will now be located in the "Patriot Park", which will soon open on the shore of the Caspian Sea.

Next, our path lies in the direction of the fortress of Kala-Koreish - to the lost world, which was once the capital of the largest Kaitag feudal possession, belonging to the Kaitag Disrtict. Now the ancient city is hidden from prying eyes by mountain passes. Tourists are infrequent visitors here-thanks to the height of 1000 meters above sea level, but those who get to the point are the real lucky ones-yes, much has been destroyed by time, but each stone remained is of historical value and dates you back to hundreds of years-to the time of power and strength.

Then we will move to Gunib

Accommodation in a tourist base. Meals: B/L/D

Day 3. Route: Gunib - Kyzyl-Yurt. Distance: 240 km

This day, our path will lie in the direction of the small, distinctive town of Kyzyl-Yurt (Kizilyurt). But the main point of the day is the Sulak Canyon. What strikes you most is the depth of the canyon, that reaches 1920 meters. Being here, it is impossible to believe that its height exceeds the Grand Canyon of Arizona for more than 120 meters. Standing on the edge of a cliff, with your arms open like wings, you get the feeling that you are about to fly. You can look at the canyon and feel it in different ways, but deep sense of flight and freedom raises in every heart.

Heading to our next aim, we will admire the reflection of the mountains in the emerald surface of the Irgan reservoir from the car window. By the way the reservoir is the heart of the second most powerful hydroelectric power station in Dagestan.

Today we will also see the" Gate of Wonders " situated in the Kardakh Gorge – one more canyon of 170 meters high, but only 2-4 meters wide. You’ll find yourself between the huge boulders, crashing up into the sky.

Accommodation in a hotel. Meals: B/L/D

Day 4. Route: Kyzyl-Yurt – Lake Kezenoy-Am. Distance: 130 km

This day, we’ll enjoy interesting and exciting off-road trip - we will drive along a mountain," rough" road. This road is not indicated in the maps– therefore it is even more interesting and mysterious. The day will be filled with extreme, "unexpected turns" and wonderful landscapes outside the window, rapid rivers, vast pastures and azure sky. And today we will see the creation of the hands of the residents of 12 settlements that are part of Benoy. 12 houses built from natural materials represent the farms that are part of the rural settlement. Here everything is preserved, even the smallest details - backyards, sheds (for livestock), household utensils and a clay oven for roasting corn. In the evening we will arrive at Lake Kezenoy-Am - the largest and deepest lake of the North Caucasus.

Accommodation in a hotel. Meals: (B/L/D)

Day 5. Route: Lake Kezenoy-Am - Veduchi: Distance: 120 km

After breakfast, we’ll head to the city of guards - Hoi, built on the very edge of the cliff!!! You can wander through the streets of the town for a long time, wondering, why the stone dwellings of the city are located on the moststeep cliffs. And even though the steep stairs that once led to these abodes have long since crumbled and turned into decay, and even though the city is dead, the brave spirit of its inhabitants is still felt here. And, probably, here you will understand where the courage, fearlessness and honor of the Caucasian people come from. Further we will visit the Nohchi-Keloi waterfall - there is not much people here, but the view of the waterfall is wonderful. We'll reach Veduchi by evening.

Accommodation in a hotel. Meals: (B/L/D)

Day 6. Route: Veduchi - Grozny. Distance: 110 km

After breakfast, we are on our way to the city of Grozny. Driving a bit along a picturesque road – we will find ourselves in a cozy tourist complex "Nikolaevskie waterfalls". It is a cascade of 12 waterfalls, the highest of them is 25 meters. The road to the falls is short, but interesting. We’ll go down a stony road, then down the stairs - and here it is - a fabulous view of the Falls. If the time allows, we can stroll around the grounds. Then we will continue the off-road part. The next attraction point of the day is "The pride of Muslims" Mosque, situated in the very heart of Shali. It is one of the largest mosques in Europe.

This is a unique project that has no analogues in the world, the size of the building is impressive - it's twice bigger than the Blue Mosque of Istanbul, the marble was specially produced for the building on the Greek island of Thasos, and the paintings under the domes were made by the best craftsmen from around the world using pure gold. The composition is crowned with a 3-ton, 8-foot chandelier specially designed for this project in Turkey. After lunch, we will arrive in Grozny and check-in at the hotel. And in the evening we will stroll around

.

Accommodation in a hotel. Meals: B/L/D

Day 7. Grozny. Tour of the city.

Today we don’t have to hurry, and therefore, after a morning breakfast we will go on a tour of the city. Located on the banks of the Sunzha River, and founded in 1818, Grozny was awarded the title of city of Military Glory. Grozny is a very diverse and miscellaneous city - 7 new high-rise buildings soaring into the sky and proclaiming the new-fangled appearance of the Republic are adjacent to small, well-preserved archaic buildings; a modern mosque is adjacent to an old Orthodox church, and amazing sports arenas perfectly supplement the flower parks. During the tour, you will see all the "business cards" of the city and learn the stories and secrets of the most important buildings.

AAfter lunch, we can continue the walk on our own. In the evening, we will have dinner at the iconic restaurant.

Accommodation in a hotel. Meals: B/L/D

Day 8. Route: Grozny - Vladikavkaz. Distance: 200 km

This day prepares a lot of "goodies". It starts with a visit to the "Vovnushki" tower complex. For centuries, these stone giants protected the mountaineers from unfriendly invaders and agressors, and also served as a haven for long trade caravans, stretching along the mountain gorges as a string. From time immemorial, Ingush villages were built at a small distance from each other, and each settlement was crowned with a tower. In case of danger, the signal from tower to tower was transmitted almost at lightning speed.

Egikal is the largest of the tower complexes, it looks more like a city. There are ancient cyclopean tower-type dwellings, five battle towers, six semi — combat towers and fifty residential ones, plus many burial grounds surrounded by stone defensive walls on the territory of the complex. The city occupies a large area and it is interesting just to stroll there.

The city is so ancient that it seems that the seal of time lay on it a long time ago. And now it's high time for us to move on - Vladikavkaz is ahead.

Accommodation in a hotel. Meals: B/L/D

Day 9. Route: Vladikavkaz - Harizdmin. Distance: 100 km

Today we leave Vladikavkaz early in the morning. We are heading to the crypt burial ground "Dargavs", which is on the right bank of the Giseldon River. Now it is a place of attraction for tourists from all over the world, but once the plague raged here, claiming thousands of lives, the population gradually decreased and then, the brave people began to build crypts. They walked away there with their families, and lived out the rest of their lives. But even then, the population was steadily declining. The village of "Dargavs" suffered the most from the epidemic. During the years of the plague, the city of the dead was formed here. It consisted of 97 structures that preserve the history of the great feat of an entire nation.

Then we will drive to the Karmadon gorge… who is more important - nature or man? This place answers this question relentlessly and categorically. Once this gorge was famous throughout North Ossetia... now it is famous as well, but now it has a completely different fame. This story is telling us that in a matter of minutes a natural disaster can take dozens of human lives and make hundreds of people truly unhappy... after touching "eternity" - we will drive to Harizdmin.

Accommodation in a hotel. Meals: B/L/D

Day 10. Route: Harizdmin – the Upper Tsey. Distance: 105 km

Today we will find ourselves in the Tsey Nature Reserve with a total area of about 30 thousand hectares. If the level of the group allows – we will arrange a small trekking in the surrounding area... just imagine-majestic snowy peaks, stormy, rapid mountain rivers, beautiful waterfalls falling from the rocks, protected coniferous and mixed forests, alpine and subalpine meadows, clean ozonated air and breathtaking landscapes, as well as 76 glaciers covering more than 37 thousand square meters, and, of course, an immensely rich animal world: 1,500 tours, 200 bison, approximately 35 bears, 175 species of birds and 2 thousand species of invertebrates and insects.

Here you can also find unique temple of Uastyrdzhi-the god of men and the patron saint of hunters, travelers and warriors. The temple stands on a high-altitude glade surrounded by granite rocks and a pine forest. In the evening we will arrive at the place of our overnight stay.

Accommodation in a hotel. Meals: B/L/D

Day 11. Route: Upper Tsey- Digorsky gorge. Distance: 80 km

You never get tired of being surprised by North Ossetia - how many different attractions can be hidden in such a small territory. And the Digorsky Gorge is one of them. You will never be able to explore this gorge from beginning to end thanks to its huge size.

We will visit the oldest cave-shrine of Digory Izad (the Angel of Digor) with its scary skulls of sacrificial animals of hundreds of years old. We will see the Devil's Bridge laid across the Urukh Canyon and the sanctuary of Nana Zadalesskaya with a recreated atmosphere of an ancient mountain dwelling (saklya). And, even if we will not have enough time to see all the iconic places, this gorge will not leave you indifferent. Well and let’s not forget about a stunning starry sky.

Accommodation in a hotel. Meals: B/L/D

Day 12. Route: Digorsky Gorge – Kislovodsk. Distance: 210 km

After Breakfast we’ll start our way in the direction of Kislovodsk. We will arrive there by dinner. This cute resort town became a center of attraction for Russian vacationers in the early 19th century. This was a time when Mikhail Lermontov and Alexander Pushkin spent time in its green parks.

The name of the resort, as you might guess, means "Sour Waters", but Kislovodsk has a decidedly sweet taste. Despite the crowds of tourists and dozens of sanatoriums situated around, Kislovodsk relaxes to the core. Green landscape, hectares of well-kept gardens, clean air at an altitude of almost 1000 meters above sea level, as well as uncompromisingly delicious cuisine and, of course, the healing waters – and it seems like happiness is already here. And in the evening, we’ll gather together for a delicious farewell dinner.

Accommodation in a hotel. Meals: B/L/D

Day 13. Route: Kislovodsk - Mineralnye Vody. End of program. Distance: 55 km

Breakfast. Transfer to Mineralnye Vody. Flight home.

We hope to see you again.

The cost includes:

  • Rent of UAZ Patriot (2018-2019) specifically designed for driving tours. One vehicle for 3-4 guests
  • Support car with all the necessary equipment
  • Mechanic-instructor and English-speaking guide
  • Accommodation: Best hotels on the way (list of hotels is sent when booking the program)
  • Meals: 3 times a day according to the program, picnic lunch on some days
  • Ethnic song and dance show
  • Route preparation including off-road part
  • Transfers from/to airports (group transfer)

The cost does not include:

  • Single supplement and early check-in
  • Meals not indicated in the program
  • Additional programs and services
  • Strong drinks and personal expenses
  • Domestic and international flights
  • Gratuities

Over 1500 km of mountain landscapes and the unique culture and traditions of distant corners of Russia one never sees on the TV, is what we carefully packed into one magnificent trip and wrapped it up with a ribbon of unforgettable impressions.

We will pass Dagestan, the Chechen Republic and North Ossetia to visit the oldest fortress in Russia, to be thrilled by the deepest canyon in Europe and admire the largest watchtower complex in the country.

Here's your chance to see a giant WIG craft, one of the largest mosques in Europe, the most acclaimed mineral waters resort in Russia and much, much more.

The above is spiced up with the fascinating flair of the car trip, immersion into the history of the Caucasus with a professional guide, and plenty of delicious food and wine - in a word, pure happiness!

We strongly advise you bring all the cameras at hand! Views guaranteed. And the Caucasian cuisine. After all, it’s common knowledge that the best shashlyk (kebab) in the world you can taste is cooked in the mountains!

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