Caucasian Odyssey / 20D

20 Days Mountains Ethnic sights Caucasus Nature

This intensive tour around the North Caucasus from the shore of the Black Sea, passing through seven republics and mountain landscapes, all the way to the shore of the Caspian Sea. We are certain that after this trip you will fall in love with the Caucasus and want to return again and again. We have included in this tour the main sights of the region, comfortable accommodation and tasty national cuisine, which you can eat guilt free after all the hiking you will be doing in beautiful nature. 

  Your trip begins in Sochi, Russia’s main resort. Its beaches are very popular in summer, and in winter the beach goers are replaced by skiers who visit the Krasnaya Polyana Ski Resort in the mountains outside the city. It was here that the 2014 Winter Olympics were held. From here you will go to the Republic of Adygea, which is famous for its cheese. Then you will visit the Republic of Karachevo-Cherkessia and Pyatigorsk and Kislovodsk in the Stavropol Territory to try the mineral waters from the springs found here.

You can’t possibly visit the Caucasus Mountains and miss the tallest mountain here - Mount Elbrus, which is actually the tallest mountain in Europe. It is in the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria and you will go 3,750 metres up Elbrus on a ski-lift.

North Ossetia is one of the most beautiful republics in the Caucasus thanks to its scenic snow covered mountains. It also boasts a delicious cuisine and a fascinating history. You will visit the republic’s most mysterious places - the City of the Dead in Dargavs. 

Afterwards, you will visit Ingushetia, which is known for its alpine meadows and its ancient towers. You will see its brand new capital of Magas, which has been built in the centre of flat land.

Chechnya is probably not high on many people’s list of holiday destinations, but today the security situation has improved so much that tourists are now visiting.  And there is so much to draw them in. You will visit two of the best sights - the mountain lakes of Galanchozh and Kezenoy Am.

Finally, you will reach the Republic of Dagestan, which stretches along the Caspian Sea. However, your trip is not over immediately upon arriving at the sea as you will spend some time visiting some of the many amazing sights Dagestan has to offer. You will visit some villages where few tourists go and the city of Derbent which is the southernmost city in Russia and one of the oldest.



  Arrival in Sochi. Transfer to the hotel.

 Tour of Sochi - highlights of the tour include:

 Night in Sochi.



 Breakfast at the hotel.

A full day of sightseeing.

Krasnaya Polyana - this is Russia’s most famous skiing resort. The 2014 Winter Olympics were held here. In the winter it is packed with skiers, but in the summer it is much quieter but still visited by those who want to enjoy the spectacular views. 

Stalin’s Dacha - this summer house was one of Stalin’s favourite places. It was designed by the architect Miron Mirzhanov, who was also responsible for Stalin’s other summer residences in Moscow and Abkhazia. Its interiors are reminiscent of the rooms in the so-called “near dacha” outside Moscow. Other members of Stalin’s family lived here, especially his daughter Svetlana, while heads of states and other officials also visited.

Mount Akhun - a special viewing platform was built here in 1936 on the orders of Stalin. From this vantage point you can enjoy amazing views of the Black Sea and the city.

Hiking around Tiso-Samshitovaya Grove - this relic wood in the Caucasian Biosphere Nature Reserve is a unique site where you can immerse yourself in nature. The route runs for 5km and starts with a concrete path but then gives way to a gravel path. 

Olympic Park - this new park is a legacy of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Located here is Fisht Stadium, where the opening and closing ceremonies were held as well as matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Night in Sochi.



 Breakfast at the hotel.

Free morning in Sochi.

 Transfer to Adler train station.

 Express train to Maikop. Duration: 5h

 Evening arrival in Maikop and transfer to the hotel.

 Night in Maikop.



 Breakfast at the hotel.

 The Republic of Adygeya is the smallest republic in Russia and it is completely located within the Krasnodar Territory. During the tour you will visit the main sights of the city:

Maikop Congressional Mosque - this is the most famous building in the city. It was built in 2000 using donations from a UAE sheikh. 

Nation Museum of Adygeya - the Adyghes have lived in the Caucasus since time immemorial. This museum has the largest collection of items detailing the history and culture of the Adyghe people, including clothes, musical instruments, wares, as well as precious gems, sculptures and paintings. 

Khadzhokh Gorge - this is the most famous and beautiful natural sight in the republic - a deep and narrow canyon created by the River Belaya. It runs for almost 500 metres  at a height of up to 50 metres in places, all the while never exceeding seven metres between the two sides of the ravine.

Svyato-Mikhailovsky Monastery - this monastery was founded in the 19th century on the initiative of local cossacks who discovered on the top of Mount Fiziabgo the ruins of an early church. A monk from Month Athos came to the new monastery to become its abbot, while Grand Duke Mikhail Romanov, who was governor of the Caucasus at the time, provided financial support.

 Night in Maikop.


Ratan 600

 Breakfast at the hotel.

 Space day in the Republic of Karachaevo-Cherkessia - you will visit one of the largest astrophysical observatories in the world.

 Transfer to Zelenchukskaya Station: 200km

 Excursion to BTA-6 (Large Altazimuth Telescope) - the largest optical telescope in Eurasia, with a diameter of 6 metres. When it was built in 1975 it was the largest optical telescope on earth, but in 1993 it became the second largest after the completion of the Hale Observatory in California. However BTA-6’s astronomical dome is still the largest in the world.

Excursion to RATAN-600 - with a diameter of 600 metres  this is the largest-diameter individual radio telescope on earth. The telescope is used to investigate the Sun, solar wind and planets and satellites of the solar system, as well as more distant bodies such as radio galaxies, quasars and cosmic microwave background.

 Zelenchukskie Churches - you will also visit some of the oldest churches in Russia. They were built by the ancient people known as the Alans. The complex includes:

  • Southern Church - this was built in the 10th century and later reconstructed in the Russian style.

  • Central Church - this dates from the 9th century. It is built out of sandstone tiles in the form of a cross, suggesting that the architects were influenced by Byzantine style.

  • Northern Church - this served as the main cathedral of the Alan Eparchy from the 10th to the 13th century.

 Transfer to Pyatigorsk. Distance: 160km

 Night in Kislovodsk.



 Breakfast at the hotel.

 Excursion around Pyatigorsk and Kislovodsk - on this day you will visit two of the main cities of the Stavropol Territory’s mineral waters resort.

City tour of Kislovodsk - highlights of this tour include:

 Transfer to Pyatigorsk. Distance: 40km

 City tour of Pyatigorsk - highlights of this tour include:.

 Night in Kislovodsk.



 Breakfast at the hotel.

Today you will visit Europe’s highest mountain - Mount Elbrus (5,652m)

 Transfer to the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria. Distance: 170km.

The route lies along the beautiful Baksan Ravine, which is the main road to Elbrus.  At each turn, you will ascend higher and higher and the view gets more and more spectacular. You will pass through the city of Tyrnyauz, which is today half abandoned but nevertheless creates an impression with its Soviet-era multistory buildings surrounded by mountains.

 The first ski lift will take you up Mount Cheget from where you can enjoy a great view of Elbrus and the Baksan Ravine. The mountain is 3,700 metres above sea level and the lift consists of three sections. The first was the first ski-lift built in the Soviet Union in 1963. The lifts will take you up to 3070 metres above sea level.

 The second ski lift is located at Azau, the closest village to Elbrus. The ski lift will take you up to 3,730 metres above sea level to the Garabashi glacier. From here you can get a panoramic view of Elbrus and the Caucasian mountains. It too has three sections. 

Lunch at a cafe serving national cuisine.

 Transfer to Nalchik. Distance:130km

 Night in Nalchik



 Breakfast at the hotel.

Nalchik is the capital of the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria and one of the most beautiful and tranquil resorts in the North Caucasus.

 City tour of Nalchik - highlights of this tour include:

  • Cable car to the Central Park - you will go up Mount Malaya Kizilovka from where you can get a view of the whole city.
  • Sosruko Restaurant building - this is one of the symbols of Nalchik. It was built in 1968 in the form of a nart - a knight-like hero from sagas of many Caucasian people. It depicts his head and an outstretched are holding a torch. 
  • Trekking on the Dolinsk “Terrain Cure” - this is the main resort area in the city. A special route has been laid out on Mount Malaya Kizilovka so that it is beneficial to one’s health. It includes 1000 steps and runs from 2620 metres rising up to 863 metres.
  • Soviet architecture - as the city became a popular resort in the Soviet era, many of its buildings date from this time and so you can see here many grand buildings built in the style known as Stalinist Empire. The buildings resemble palaces decorated with columns. One of the best spots is the vaste Ploschad Soglasia (“Harmony Square”). 
  • Lunch consisting of the National Cuisine - the republic's cuisine differs from its neighbours and you will get the chance to try lyagur (died meat), khinchiny (thin pies), gedlibzhe (stewed chicken) and dzheshlibze (bean pate)

 Transfer to Vladikavkaz.

 Night in Vladikavkaz.



 Breakfast in the hotel.

On this day you will travel into the mountains of North Ossetia, some of the highest on the whole trip

 Dargavs Ravine and the “City of the Dead” - the fascinating and eerie architectural complex known as the City of the Dead consists of 99 stone tombs, each with two or four storeys. Experts believe they date from the 14th to the 18th centuries, but they could be even older. It was traditional in Ossetia to build tombs above ground and each family had their own.  Each tomb holds several bodies, some of them well-preserved due to the flow of the mountain air. Some of the bodies are in simple wooden boats, which were believed to help them on their travels to the afterlife. 

Karmadon Ravine - this ravine became infamous in Russia in 2002 when an avalanche killed the popular young actor and director Sergey Bodrov. However, despite this tragic event, the ravine is especially beautiful.

 Night in Vladikavkaz.



 Breakfast in the hotel

 City tour of Vladikavkaz - the capital of North Ossetia and a cultural centre of the Caucasus. It is located on the main route across the Caucasus Mountains through the Darial Pass from Russia to Georgia. 

  • Sunni Mosque - although North Ossetia is the only Orthodox republic in the North Caucasus, Vladikavkaz is home to one of the most beautiful mosques in Russia. It was built by a Polish architect who was inspired by Egyptian mosques.
  • Nativity of the Virgin Mary Church - this is the oldest Orthodox church in the city, dating from the early 19th century.
  • Prospekt Mira - Vladikavkaz’s main street and its historical and cultural centre.
  • National Museum of the Republic of North Ossetia - in the museum’s collection you will see unique archaeological finds and rare examples of Caucasian and eastern weapons.
  • Embankment of the River Terek - the Terek is the longest river in the North Caucasus and has its source in the Truso Valley from a glacier on Mount Zilga-Khokh 2,713 metres above sea level. The Terek flows through Georgia, North Ossetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, the Stavropol Territory, Chechnya and Dagestan.

 Master class on making Ossetian pies.

 Night in Vladikavkaz.



 Breakfast in the hotel.

 A tour to the Dzheyrakh Ravine which is like an open-air museum located in a stunningly beautiful place. The main sight here is its complex of towers. Watchtowers like these can be seen all over the Caucasus: Dagestan, Chechnya, North Ossetia and in Svaneti in Georgia, but Ingushetia is most famous as only in Ingushetia’s Targim Basin can you see so many examples in one place, with some of them standing as tall as nine-storey buildings. 

Lunch in a cafe serving national cuisine. A visit to the main landmarks of the ravine:

Duration: 7 hours

 Night in Armkhi



 Breakfast in the hotel.

 Magas is the only city in Russia to have been founded since the fall of the USSR and the only specially-built capital in the country. You won’t find here any historical buildings although it is still a pleasant city thanks to its interesting architecture. The main site is unmissable - the Tower of Harmony. It is the tallest tower in the republic and built in the traditional style. From the top, you can enjoy amazing views if you aren’t too scared to walk out on the special glass-floored viewing platform.

Lunch in Magas.

 Transfer to Grozny. Distance: 95km

 City Tour of Grozny - the capital of the Republic of Chechnya. Much has been written about the tragic recent history of Chechnya and its capital Grozny has been completely rebuilt following the two wars fought here in the 1990s. The highlights of the tour:

  • Heart of Chechnya Mosque - a definite contender for the most beautiful mosque in Russia. Its walls are decorated with marble and travertine and inside it is painted in frescos featuring Chechnen motives. Hanging from its ceilings are many gold plated chandeliers resembling some of the most important mosques in the world. The mosque can hold up to 10,000 people, making it also one of Russia’s largest.
  • Grozny City Viewing Platform - located on the 29th floor of one of the skyscrapers of the Grozny City business centre is a viewing platform from where you can see the whole of the city.

Dinner in a national restaurant.

 Night in Grozny.


galanchozh lake

 Breakfast in the hotel.

On this day you will travel into the Chechen mountains to the exquisitely beautiful Lake Galanchozh.

 Lake Galanchozh - the lake is located above the confluence of the rivers Gekhi and Osykhi in the foothills of Mount Verg-Lam, which rises to 1533 metres above sea level. It was once believed that Lake Galanchozh was bottomless, but now it is known to have a maximum depth of 35 metres, which is certainly deep enough for ancients to think it is bottomless.  The route to Galanchozh is also beautiful as you will be surrounded by enormous mountains and forests and always rising higher and higher. Around Galanchozh there are some ancient watchtowers and some ruins of ancient Chechen auls (villages).

Packed lunch at the lake.

 Night in Grozny.


kazenoy am

 Breakfast in the hotel.

A new day and a new republic await you - the Republic of Dagestan. But first, on route to Dagestan, you will stop at the largest lake in the North Caucasus - Lake Kezenoy-Am in Chechnya.

On route you will also visit:

Shira Yurt Open-Air Museum - this is a stylised mediaeval Chechen village; a copy of a traditional aul where the ancestors of the Chechens lived for many centuries. There is a 25-metre stone watchtower at the entrance.

Mother’s Heart Mosque in Argun - this is the only high-tech mosque in the whole of Russia. It’s dome is covered with lights and each night over 50,000 lamps and 95 projectors create a light show which changes from pink to green to blue.  It can hold 15,000 people. Its walls are predominantly made out of glass which create an open and light feel.

Pride of Muslims Mosque in Shali - this enormous mosque is often credited with being the largest in Europe. It can hold 30,000 people inside and up to 70,000 if including its auxiliary territories.  It was built out of white marble in an Uzbek architectural style. Inside there is a three-tonne chandelier in the form of a lotus flower consisting of 395 lights, each covered in gold and crystals. 

Lake Kezenoi-Am - this is one of the highest lakes in Europe. It is located close to the Dagestani border among meadows and steppe. 

Night in Kezenoy-Am.


Kezenoy am

 Breakfast in the hotel.

 You will visit the abandoned village of Khoy. The village stood for around 2000 years practically on the edge of a mountain and had a defensive role; its name translates along the line of “warders’ village”. Even today the village resembles a fortress with one wall running along the edge with a drop on the other side. The houses were built out of stones without the use of cement and some of the rocks have carvings on them.

 Transfer to Botlikh.

 Watermill at an Urbech factory - the popular Dagestani speciality of urbech is made here.  It is butter made out of various nuts or seeds (including pumpkin seeds, linseed, walnuts, hazelnuts, coconuts, poppy seeds, sesame or apricot seeds) and considered a natural product with no added sugar and even a superfood. 

 Transfer to Untsukul.

 Untsukul - this village has been famous since the 18th century for its handicraft in the form of metal engravings (cupronickel, brass, copper or silver)  set on a wooden object, such as walking sticks, cigarette boxes, pipes or pots, but also jewellery, household items, vases and purely decorative items.

 Transfer to Gunib.

 Night in Gunib.



 Breakfast in the hotel.

 Gunib was where the Caucasian War officially ended when the last holdout of Imam Shamil was captured by the Russian imperial army. However, it took the Russians more than two weeks, despite having an army more than 40 times larger.

 Chokh - this village situated on a hill has many 19th century buildings decorated with engravings. You will walk up its enchanting winding streets and alleyways to visit the old centre, where the houses have been abandoned and are now ruins.

 Trekking to Gamsutl - this is an ancient Avarn village which has been completely abandoned. It is often referred to as a ghost-village or even the Dagestani Machu Picchu.  You will be driven to the foot of the hill on which Gamsutl stands and the rest of the journey will have to be taken on foot. It takes about 30 minutes to get there along a relatively steep path, so make sure you have good walking boots and sticks if you need them. The village’s age is not known for sure, but most experts believe it dates from the 9th or 10th century. It started its life as a fortification and many of the houses are built as extensions to the rocks. Gamsult translates along the lines of “on the foothill of the khan’s fort”. It was certainly an ideal spot for a fort as from here you get a full view of the surrounding area. You will of course have time here to take lots of photos and to just take in the view.

 Transfer to Derbent. Distance: 170km

 Night in Derbent.



 Breakfast at the hotel.

 Tour of Derbent - Derbent is the leading contender for the oldest city in Russia. It is believed to have been founded in the 8th century BCE by the Persians. Overlooking the city is the Naryn-Kala Fortress, which dates from the 4th century BCE. It was built to protect the three-kilometre pass between the Capsian Sea and the Caucasus; one of the few passes in the whole of the Caucasus mountain range. It is believed that Alexander the Great passed through here.  Derbent is also home to the oldest mosque in Russia - it was built in 733.  You will also have a chance to walk around the narrow streets of the old city to soak in the history of the place.

 After the excursion, you will visit a local family to find out about the everyday life and traditions of Derbent citizens and have tea with them.

 Night in Derbent.



 Breakfast at the hotel.

 Transfer to Makhachkala. Distance: 130км

 Upon arrival, you will have a walk around the historical part of the city and along the beautiful seafront with the Caspian, which in places has retained a certain Soviet feel. You will also visit the city’s main market, where you can buy some souvenirs, including some tasty local delicacies.

 Night in Makhachkala.



 Breakfast at the hotel.

 On the last day of the trip you will visit the largest canyon in Europe and one of the most impressive views in Dagestan. The Sulak Canyon runs for 53 kilometres and reaches depths of 1920 metres.

You will go to special viewing platforms where you can take in the grandeur of this natural creation and even have a boat trip along the turquoise waters of River Sulak itself. Afterwards, you will have some tea from a samovar and enjoy some local sweets and the view of a waterfall.

After visiting the canyon you will go to a trout farm and restaurant complex where you will have a lunch of fresh trout.

 Night in Makhachkala.



 Breakfast at the hotel.

Transfer to the airport.



  • The tour is available the whole year round starting on any day.
  • Optional excursions should be booked before the start of the tour to schedule the itinerary.
  • Tickets to museums cannot be sold without an excursion with a guide.
  • All excursions/guided tours included in the itinerary are private which means private guides and private transport along the programme - unless otherwise stated.
  • Best time to travel on this route: from the end of April to mid-October.
  • Since most republics adhere to Muslim traditions, it is not recommended to wear excessively open clothes and shorts during the tour (especially in Chechnya and Ingushetia).
  • The basis of the cuisine of the Caucasian people is meat - if you do not eat meat, or eat only halal products, please inform us when booking a tour, so we can adapt the food for you.
  • Alcohol sales are limited in Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan. 






Date of the tour


Number of travellers

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Cost of the tour in
  • Private transport service according to the programme
  • Private guide service according to the programme
  • Entrance tickets to museums (skip-the-line where available)
  • Accommodation in a hotel, central location, standard DBL rooms with breakfast.
  • Plane tickets Moscow - Sochi, Economy class
  • Plane tickets Makhachkala - Moscow, Economy class
  • Train tickets Adler - Maikop, 2nd class.
  • Meal according the itinerary
  • Russian local sim card with unlimited data
  • Permission to border areas
  • Visa support documents
Not included
  • Tips for a guide or driver (optional)
  • Personal expenses
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