The Republic of Dagestan and its capital Makhachkala is not the most tourist destination. This is due to the huge number of myths and rumors about the safety of travelers, and in general safety in the republic. How, why and why to go to Dagestan, we tell.
"You will be stolen, blown up, or they will certainly watch you with caution all the time" - it was with this set of phrases that our friends and relatives accompanied us to Dagestan. Why did we choose this region? Yes, just at a photo exhibition in Moscow we saw a series of unique photographs of natural Dagestan. They couldn't believe that it was actually photographed in these places. We decided to check. Therefore, in this article I would like to pay attention to the unique natural treasures of this Caucasian region, talk about the two main cities of the region and, in general, about how and what people live, how strongly they adhere to religious traditions here.
Tourism in this particular Caucasian region is so undeveloped that here you really have to organize and look for everything on your own. There are practically no useful travel publications on the Internet. There are no travel services in the region. Even the simplest navigation in the form of direction signs to any sights cannot be found either.
Realizing the complexity of public transport, we confidently decided to rent a car for a few days. Looking for a car rental company on the Internet, you come across a continuous list of sites with luxury car rental for Dagestan weddings. Found, perhaps, the only company that rents not only wedding Mercedes. On this number +7 988 793 89 99 call good-natured Arsen. This is not an advertisement, but a good and, perhaps, the only person who will provide you with any car without any problems.
Hotels are not so smooth here either. Before traveling, looking through housing and prices for them, I wondered if we were really going to Dagestan? The market is scarce and it is difficult to find a good hotel room for reasonable prices. We advise you to book accommodation in advance, as well as look for options not only on the most popular sites.
In Makhachkala, you can feel at home in Moscow. There are no strict Muslim traditions here. Everyone dresses as the soul desires, eat what they want. According to the law, alcohol is sold in Dagestan until eight in the evening, but in fact, it can be bought without much difficulty at any time of the day.
Yes, it was not possible to enter the main mosque of the region calmly. But this happened not because here they treat you like a stranger, but simply because for the locals it is unexpected when tourists are generally interested in another religion and want to visit the mosque.
Also, the national flavor was "caught" in an endless stream of domestic "prior", wedding salons in large numbers and armed people in the city. Public order here is clearly monitored not only by police, but also by some military units. On many streets you often meet people with machine guns. On the one hand, you don't feel very comfortable, but on the other, it seems to be safe.
The city itself - the locals, by the way, call it "swing" - is clean and well-groomed. Many small grocery stores, cafes, restaurants.
Dagestan is a place about which we know nothing in essence. Stereotypes strive to get into these gaps, but if you get here, they are filled with: the Sulak Canyon, conversations with locals over coffee in a Turk, the Caspian Sea, miracle cakes with stringy cheese, a fortress from the UNESCO world list, carpet patterns of certainly favorite shades. It is impossible to penetrate the local to the end - the culture is very closed, but you can walk on a tangent, and this touch is worth it to jerk for a thousand kilometers.
Derbent is a miniature of everything that catches your attention in this region: walls that are five thousand years old, an old quarter with winding streets where you can get lost for a day, hot air and, to top it off, an urban phenomenon that unfolds right before our eyes. Last year, the most ancient city in Russia had a master plan that proposes a future that one wants to witness, and at the same time makes it possible. And on the way to Derbent, you will most likely find yourself in Makhachkala - the planes land here.
A few years ago, staying here even for a day meant testing your strength: the news flashed headlines about explosions at gas stations, kiosks and cafes. But today the largest city in the North Caucasus has changed, the number of residents is increasing every year, and tourists in the city always have something to do.
To find "House 15", you need to enter the arch at 18 Gamzatova Avenue, go through the garages and ring the bell at the gray door. A parallel world opens up behind it. "Why do you disappear so often?" - a chalk board at the entrance welcomes; here - with a dozen tables scattered under the trees, red armchairs, a shabby wooden chest of drawers and an indie van. Bizarre artifacts are everywhere: horns at the mirror, macrame braids, patterned colored carpets.
The idea to turn Rasul Gamzatov's house into a place where you can order a bowl with salmon, hummus and drink mate (they don't sell alcohol here) came to Murad Kalayev and his partners: now the poet's hallway houses a kitchen, rooms are given over to halls , the bathroom has remained unchanged, and the courtyard is buzzing from morning to evening. The place took root in Makhachkala not without adventures: visitors to "House 15" with an unconventional appearance and manner of dress were called "nephors" for a long time. But today the integration of culture has happened: in the evenings it is difficult to find a free seat here.
The owner of "House 15" and co-founder of the Moscow "Dagestanskaya Lavka" Murad spends this summer here, in a mobile home, with his wife and children. Now he wants to rent a mountain in Dagestan for 49 years: make a glamping (or a new village!) And show everyone how beautiful the view can be in the morning and why he doesn't want to return from here. On the territory there is a bookstore, which was made by Murad's sister Rukizhat: on the shelves of "Binding" you can find publications about Russian cosmism, about digital art, and about Zero Waste. As a merch - sweatshirts with the words “Make Dagestan great again”.
co-owner of House 15 and Dagestanskaya Lavka
“The concept of my life is this: in Moscow to promote everything that is connected with the real Dagestan, and in Dagestan - to show people what European culture can be: a vibe of openness, freedom and ease. Three years ago we decided to stir up a cool place that would bring together completely different people. In Makhachkala, right in the center of the city, there was an empty house of the poet Rasul Gamzatov, the three of us and our partners shook hands: we said that we would invest 300 thousand, and if nothing works out, we will remain friends. The place is still unique, although we expected that after us, others will begin to transform abandoned spaces into new places.
We wanted to make interesting cuisine for locals and something familiar for visitors. Therefore, we took the concept of Israeli cuisine as a basis. The word "falafel" had never been heard here before and was even scared. Now in Dagestan there is a craze for coffee, so I took an old professional coffee machine and decided to prove to everyone that you can not buy a new one for 1.5 million (as many do here) and make good coffee. We basically have no alcohol - instead, we try to surprise with different things: club-mate, kombucha, lemonades. In the future, we want to make a small "Flacon" in Makhachkala with a photo laboratory, a pottery workshop, a wine bar and a recreated national cuisine. "
Dagestan is a country of mountains. Mountains and foothills of the republic occupy almost half of its territory. Every traveler who comes here for the first time is amazed by the beauty of this amazing land. Tourism is just in its infancy, but apart from beautiful landscapes, you can see other equally interesting sights of Dagestan here.
The sacred place of the Dagestanis. The top of the mountain is at an elevation of 4142 m. Snow covers it up to an altitude of 3.5 km above sea level. Climbing the mountain is difficult. It starts from the high-mountainous village of Kurush and runs along a 30-meter rocky path. For this reason, it is possible to climb only during one month of the year, from approximately the twentieth of July to the twentieth of August. Pilgrims rise to ask the sacred mountain for forgiveness for their sins, health, the appearance of heirs, and also make secret desires.
The surrounding landscape is very similar to that of a Martian. Around the most bizarre rocks, and on one of them you can see the face of a boy. On the way to the very top there is a small lake Zem-Zem. The local population considers it curative and tries to take more with them.
There is also a crevice here. Some kind of "sinometer". People believe that if a person has committed many wicked acts, then he will not be able to crawl through it, no matter how slender he is. But if a person is pious and merciful, then no completeness will hinder him. The walls of the crevice seem to part by themselves in front of such a pilgrim and let him go forward.
The waterfall, which is located near the village of Arani on the river of the same name, has the status of a natural monument of the republic. And it is no coincidence. A powerful wall of water falls from a height of about 100 meters. In the lower course, the river slightly widens the gorge and forms several rapids. Around the rocks, greenery, sun! In May-June, the snowy peaks melt especially noticeably. At this time the water level is highest in the river, and the waterfall is the most complete. In winter, it is a huge, hollow icicle. Inside, crystal clear water flows, which the local population appreciates for its extraordinary taste.
On the southern side of the Turchidag plateau there is a village that is considered the most beautiful in Dagestan. Houses covered the slope tightly. It seems that leaving the house, you can step on the roof of a lower building. The ancient settlement has been known since the XIV century, although excavations confirm that they settled here in the Neolithic period. The Great Silk Road passed through these lands, so the Arab and Persian conquerors wanted to own it.
The village has presented many outstanding figures, who are remembered not only in Dagestan, but throughout the world. This is Ataturk's associate Magomed Musayev, the first printer and founder of the national press Magomed-Mirza Mavraev, Soviet freestyle wrestler, five-time world champion Ali Aliyev. Here in the cemetery is the grave of the hero of Avar songs Kamalil Bashir, known since the 16th century.
Tourists on the Sarykum dune
Workers of the tourism industry of Dagestan this year repeat one thing: the flow of guests to the republic is unprecedented. According to forecasts of the local Ministry of Tourism, by the end of the season the figure will be 20% more than last year. The rapid development of the tourism sector is confirmed by the constantly growing number of guest houses and hostels. Now there are forty registered, but, most likely, the real numbers are higher. A significant plus - guest houses are also open where there are no full-fledged hotels yet.
What service do travelers find in Dagestan - by the example of three establishments: in the mountains, on the picturesque Sulak canyon and in ancient Derbent.
Vladimir Sevrinovsky, journalist, traveler and guide:
- For my category of tourists, and I usually work with foreigners, guest houses, as a rule, are an option without fish. We use them where there are no hotels. They are also suitable for tourists who like to constantly, from morning to evening, communicate with local residents. If we talk about conditions and service, everything is subjective. What is good for me, unacceptable for most foreigners. The main problem is that there are few toilets and showers, and the quality is usually so-so. Other complaints are insufficient cleanliness, old beds. Authenticity is great, but only when afterwards you can relax in a comfortable individual room with shower and toilet.
The guest house "U Zainab" in the village of Gotsatl has been operating for more than three years.
- This is our house, we did not build it specifically for tourists. In general, we accidentally got into this business, - says Zainab Batiralieva, a former school teacher, and now the hostess of the guesthouse. - I really like to communicate with people, I love guests.
You can book your stay on Booking. om. Traditional word of mouth works along with the Internet service.
The house can accommodate ten people at the same time, but if a large group of tourists is suddenly expected - up to 25 people, they are accommodated in several neighboring houses, also adapted for receiving guests.
- From late September to mid-October, all houses are occupied. We are waiting for a group of 15 people for a yoga tour. Before lunchtime, they have classes in the forest. After lunch, my husband, he is a guide, arranges excursions, - says the hostess.
Belarus is one of the few European countries where it is quite possible to fully relax, while spending a very modest amount. The peculiarity of the local rest is also the fact that you can feel yourself almost simultaneously both in the distant Soviet past (which is now often what Russian tourists want, this is a kind of trend), and in a comfortable future striving for an ideal. Soviet legacy pr