Travel to the North Caucasus: Karachay-Cherkessia and Kabardino-Balkaria

Mountain edge

There are no stories, epics, legends about the Caucasus. Some people associate the Northern Mountains with the poems of Lermontov, Pushkin. They remind someone of Vysotsky. But above all, the Caucasus is glaciers, mountains and snow-capped peaks. Many come here for stunning scenery, fresh mountain air and the opportunity to go snowboarding or skiing. Yes, it is the resorts of the North Caucasus that attract tourists, athletes from all over the world, not only in our country.

Are you interested in what the Caucasus is? About 28 million years ago, a large mountain fold was formed between three seas: the Black, Caspian and Azov seas. It was called the Caucasus. All the mountains of the Caucasus are divided into the Transcaucasia, the Caucasus and the North Caucasus (it is here that the famous ski resorts of the Caucasus are located). Since the Caucasus is traditionally considered part of the European continent, the highest peak in Europe is Elbrus (the height reaches 5642 meters).

How to get to the North Caucasus?

Pushkin said that it takes many months to get to the Caucasus. But it was a long time ago. Today, you can get to the resorts located in the North Caucasus by plane, train, bus, car. For example, trains leave for the Caucasus every day from both Moscow and St. Petersburg. They go for about 1 day. The cost of the trip depends on which carriage you prefer to travel in: compartment, reserved seat or luxury. As a rule, you will be able to keep within 3 - 7 thousand.

You can use the Crimea-Caucasus ferry. You can find out the exact cost, time of departure of the ferries on the official website of the ferry. Of course, the fastest way to get to the Caucasus is by plane. Fortunately, air traffic is regular with all nearby cities: Makhachkala, Beslan, Minralnye Vody, Nalchik, Maykop, Krasnodar.

Variety of Caucasian resorts

All North Caucasian resorts are divided into two types: ski and health resorts. The second includes such well-known balneological resorts as Essentuki, Minvody, Pyatigorsk, Zheleznovodsk, Kislovodsk. In these cities, the bowels of the earth are rich in healing mineral springs that can give people strength, health and relaxation. They drink mineral water and bathe in it. The sanatorium and medical facilities are very well developed here. More than 130 spas offer a variety of health treatments for wellness.

The famous ski resorts of the Caucasus are Lagonaki, Arkhyz, Elbrus, Mamison, Matlas. The organizers of ski sports complexes have a plan: to unite all the resorts into one ski cluster, which will become the largest in the world. There will be 900,000 meters of pistes, 200 modern lifts. However, winter sports fans do not expect "tomorrow", they are already actively exploring the ski resorts of the Caucasus.

Let's look at the main resorts of the North Caucasus in more detail:

As for the resorts of Matlas, Mamison, it should be emphasized that they are at the stage of development, they are far from fully equipped.

Photo: personal archive of Jamlai Bugaev

When tourists, having arrived in Grozny on a sightseeing bus, ask the guide: "Where is the Black Star Burger here?" - it becomes clear that urban tourism in Chechnya is firmly on its feet. But few people know about extreme tourism in the republic. And, perhaps, Jamlai Bugaev (better known as Maxim or Max), the executive director of the Republican Federation of Mountaineering and Mountain Tourism, a member of the Russian Union of Rescuers, the head of the research expedition "Unknown Chechnya" republic. For the readers of "This is the Caucasus" Jamlai Bugaev spoke about six promising areas of tourism in Chechnya.

Mountaineering Mountains for pioneers

- Today many climbers would like to come and be the first Poles, the first Swiss or French to conquer the Caucasus mountains in Chechnya. What is the reason for this? Perhaps it sounds incredible, but there are a lot of climbers in the world, and in general, there are few mountains. All routes have been trodden, there are few white spots left in the world - peaks they have not yet visited. The Chechen mountains have always had a very complex transport infrastructure, the mountains are difficult to access, many of them are not used at all, which is why today they are so attractive for climbers from all over the world. Of course, this gives us a certain incentive for the first ascent of our mountains.

But there is one big problem: the mountainous part of Chechnya is located on the border with Georgia, and climbing the mountains from our side is prohibited. A paradox arises: from the side of North Ossetia, which also borders on Georgia, you can climb Kazbek, but for some reason you cannot climb the Chechen mountains.

The problem needs to be solved by law, and this is not a quick process. Another important aspect is route classification. Due to the fact that the Chechen routes are not classified, they do not have a category of difficulty.

Photo: personal archive of Jamlai Bugaev

Mount Diklosmta. View from Chechnya

But we still find ways to ascend. For example, in 2018 we set ourselves a goal - to climb the mountain peak of Diklosmt (4285 meters) by the 200th anniversary of Grozny. This is the border of Chechnya, Dagestan and Georgia, and the border guards from the Chechen side did not let us in. I had to go for a trick - they got permission from the Dagestan side. There, the border guards who met us at the foot said that we were the first civilians they had seen in these places over the past 20 years. This route has really not been used for 20-30 years. It was not possible to prepare thoroughly: there was no information about him even on the Internet. The ascent lasted 5 days. During this time, I managed to plunge into the icy mountain river more than once, get completely wet and dry completely.

Climbing: where to host the championships

Photo: personal archive of Jamlai Bugaev

"AiF-SK" decided not to postpone this issue for a long time and, using the example of the two most visited in the mountains of Ossetia, the Kurtatinsky and Digorsky gorges, tried to understand: is there any tourism in the republic?

Not only in Tsei

What will attract a potential tourist? In winter - primarily the ski slopes, which were actively used here in the 70s of the last century. The track and lift with a capacity of 1200 people per hour will become part of the hotel complex. “The cost of the project is 400 million rubles. Private business - 60%, the state - 40%, - said the director of the construction company Igor Khadartsev. - The first stage - we will commission the hotel in the IV quarter of 2018. The ski track is the second stage. Its construction is supposed to be included in the program of socio-economic development of the North Caucasus Federal District until 2025 ”.

In the summer - certainly hiking along the terrainkur. Interesting routes are being developed.

Heals air

The Dzivgis Fortress consists of seven defensive structures built at the entrances to natural caves more than 500 years ago. According to one version, it was captured by Tamerlane, after which all its defenders were killed, according to another, an enemy never set foot on its territory. At the entrance to the Central Tower - one tour after another. Tourists from various regions, from Stavropol to Vladivostok. Everyone enters the cave, some daredevils try to penetrate its narrow part. There is a legend that after a few tens of meters, overcome on bellies, you can find yourself on the opposite side of the rock.

Right at the foot of the historical monument - rickety sheds and fresh buildings. In Fiagdon, land is worth its weight in gold.

“We are from Nizhny Novgorod,” Natalya Nekrasova, traveling with her son Dmitry, shares her impressions. - In the mountains - for the first time. Such beauty, such power, and people are very cordial and welcoming. "

The healing air of Fiagdon helps to heal lung diseases and asthma. In the center of the village there is an unfinished health complex. The construction is frozen.

Without gas and roads

Digoria is a special world. It has long attracted residents of Vladikavkaz and guests from other regions, but due to its remoteness, lack of roads and gas, it remains a pipe dream for many. Although in recent years the resort segment has been developing there as well.

Share beauty

Elena Evdokimova, AiF-SK: Batyr, how did your passion for tourism begin?

Batyr Malsagov: In the late 1990s, I was assigned to organize an excursion for a guest from Germany. I showed him the flat and mountainous Ingushetia, one of the first Christian temples of Tkhab-Yerdy, the Targinskaya depression. My ward turned out to be an inquisitive, attentive and interested excursionist, I proudly showed him our ancestral towers, the crypts of our ancestors. Today, many people themselves are looking for interesting routes on the Internet, but on the spot they must learn more in order not to be disappointed, to get good impressions and come to our region more than once. If we talk about excursions, this is the preparation of guides, comfortable transport, directions. In the Caucasus, we have basically a standard set of offers, but there are also rare tours and individual, specially designed routes.

- The list of places is traditional. Why “to the classics of the genre” - Elbrus, Dombay, Arkhyz, Dargavs not add something new?

- Verified popular routes will always be in demand. New ones need to be developed, checked - whether people will go. These are financial risks that very few tour operators can afford. Indeed, the overwhelming majority of these are small firms. There is one more important point - the creation of infrastructure. A stream of excursions to the Dzheyrakh gorge started from Kavminvod, it's great. The new route is steadily gaining momentum. But there are no toilets, nowhere to throw away the trash and eat. You don't really travel on an empty stomach. If the well-trodden routes are already equipped, there are still problems with new ones.

Tourist Cheat Sheets

- For real tourists, the issue of comfort is secondary - a backpack, a tent, dry rations ...

We often have bloggers from all over Russia in Ingushetia, they post information on the Internet. But this is not enough. We need a special portal where everything about tourism in the North Caucasus will be collected. Including about hiking routes - designated places for equipped overnight stays, border zones, where routes must be coordinated in advance. Need pointers.

Love your land

- Today there is a lot of talk about the growth of domestic tourism. In the Stavropol Territory, for example, they trumpet about a record number of guests, but silence about the quality of the reception ...

This happens: you know that there is the Caucasus, that it’s a couple of hours to fly to Mineralnye Vody, that it seems that someone from your acquaintances was there and spoke coolly, but you still cannot (read: not much want) to go there. And then you decide, like me, and fall in love once and for all: with mountains, people, landscapes, views of immense canyons, traditions, cuisine, and this is all Caucasian.

I am telling you about the first trip to the North Caucasus, namely to Karachay-Cherkessia and Kabardino-Balkaria, and I sincerely hope to inspire you for such a vacation.


From Mineralnye Vody, you can go on a trip along the chosen route - independently, with a guided tour or by Bla Bla Car.

How to get there

Mineralnye Vody was the starting point of my route. Prices for a direct flight in winter from Moscow start from 2500 rubles. round trip, from St. Petersburg - from 4000 rubles. Further along the chosen route, you can get by taxi, with a guided tour by car or by Bla Bla Car.

CMS Blitz

If you, like me before, have never been and do not understand where to go here, where the Elbrus region begins and other details - you are not alone!

Explaining: the starting point for traveling along the Elbrus is Mineralnye Vody. This is a transport hub, from where it is convenient to go in different directions. You can go to a sanatorium and get medical treatment at the healing springs of the Stavropol Territory (Kislovodsk, Pyatigorsk, Essentuki, Zheleznovodsk, etc.), all cities are located close to each other. Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia - this is all the Elbrus region, just in different directions, that is, you can see the majestic Elbrus from everywhere, only from different angles.

What to take with you

Some facts about the Caucasus

More than 82 peoples live in the Caucasus, and each has its own history, traditions and characteristics. Just imagine: everywhere they cook national dishes in their own way, give their daughters in marriage and talk about life.

The mountains in the Caucasus are different everywhere: all the landscapes are fantastic, but completely different from each other!

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