If you’re like many climbers from around the world, Mt. Elbrus is on your bucket list to summit. Whether or not you have a goal of climbing the world’s 7 summits, you are like many thousands of Russians and foreigners who descend on the Caucasus Mountains every year to conquer this beautiful peak.
Many climbers are single-minded and come to the “Caucasus” with one goal in mind: conquer Elbrus and go home. But if you’re like others, you want to maximize your time in Russia while you’re already here. For many, that means touring Moscow & St. Petersburg, which are great in their own right.
This is the year. 2019. It’s the year to get over the hump and travel to Russia. You’ve considered it for years. There are so many “Yes, but…” moments that have been holding you back, though.
Here are 4 commonly-held myths about travel to Russia that we want to alleviate for you. It’s time to get over the hump!
1) MYTH #1 – IT’S TOO DANGEROUS – Whether due to strained political relationships between governments, or negative media coverage, many people have the perception that Russia is a dangerous place to travel to. Several events in recent years in Russia have actually shown the opposite: what a safe and welcoming country Russia is for foreign tourists! Here are a few examples:
You’re well on your way to conquering the 7 summits. You’ve already climbed Kilimanjaro in Africa. Maybe you’ve summited Aconcagua in South America and Denali in Alaska too. Regardless of what order you do them in, the road to the 7th summit Everest, always goes through Mt. Elbrus, Europe’s highest mountain.
So, if you are reading this article right now, you probably found it on Google by searching something like “Travel North Caucasus” or “Tourism North Caucasus”. So, you at least know something about the region, and were actively seeking information about travel here. But, let’s be honest, how many people actually know where the North Caucasus is or even what it is?
With all the different events going on in the world today, an obvious thing to consider before you travel is the safety of the country you will be in.
HOW SAFE IS THE RUSSIAN CAUCASUS RIGHT NOW?
From our years of experience, we have found that it is highly unlikely that you will be put in any danger in the North Caucasus region of Russia. Our two American representatives on the ground have lived a combined 9 years in the region with their wives and young children, and are happy to call it home. It is one of Russia’s most beautiful regions with a growing tourism infrastructure and is definitely worth visiting!
Here are some aspects of traveling in Russia’s Caucasus region that you may want to be aware of, both giving reasons why the North Caucasus is stable and presenting travel advice from our expertise and other travel advisories.
“Everything you need to know”
“Trusted tips from an experienced mountain guide”
HAVE YOU HEARD THE CALL OF THE MOUNTAINS?
So, you have heard the call of the mountains and want to climb Mount Elbrus? The allure of this mountain, standing at 5642 meters (18,510 feet), draws thousands every year, seeking to ascend to its snowy heights. It is the highest mountain in Europe, making it one of the famed “7 Summits” (the name used to refer to the highest mountain on each of the 7 continents). Whether you are still considering this climb or are committed to your adventure, here are a few things you should know before you hop on a plane to Russia.
What do I need to know?
APPLY FOR YOUR VISA
Every visitor to Russia needs a visa. The visa application process takes time and money, but is worth it in the end! We highly recommend going through a trusted processing company who will make sure that your application is filled out correctly and everything is done right. There are many companies that process Russian visas, but Beyond Red Square has its own private visa processing partner: LetsRussia. We even have a customized application page on our website for our travelers. Get started on your application process (at the latest) three months before your trip.
When is the best time of year to come to Russia?
Russia has four seasons and each of them have their pros and cons for travel. When most people imagine Russia, they think of fur hats and coats and year-round snow drifts. While there are some regions of Russia that are like that, many parts are not. Russia is the largest country in the world, and so specific weather forecasts will depend on where exactly you are traveling to in Russia.
WHAT IF I’M GLUTEN-FREE?
More and more often we meet travelers who are on a restricted diet: no sugar, gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, keto or vegan….and the list goes on!
For the most part, a restricted eating lifestyle is foreign to Russians. The response tends to be “why on earth would you want to limit what you can eat??” On the other hand, restricting one’s diet for a defined period of time is quite familiar. Every year the Russian Orthodox Church does a 50-day vegan diet (similar to Lent, called “The Great Fast”) leading up to Easter. That being said, Russians are extremely hospitable and go above and beyond to make their guests comfortable, including catering to dietary restrictions.
DRESSY OR CASUAL?
What you wear in Russia really depends on the season you’ll be coming in, and what part of Russia you’ll be visiting. Here are some general tips:
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE SHOES
Russians walk a lot, and you will do a lot of walking on your trip to Russia. So, make sure to bring comfortable walking shoes. If you’re coming in a rainy part of the year, waterproof shoes are a definite plus. If you’re coming in winter, make sure that the bottom of your boots have good traction. Slipping and sliding on ice is no fun!