Heart of the Caucasus

A deep dive into the diverse peoples and regions of the North Caucasus: 5 different nations in 11 days!

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See for yourself why clients are calling their private trip to the North Caucasus Mountains “amazing”…..

DAY 1 ARRIVAL TO NORTH CAUCASUS – MT. ELBRUS VALLEY

After flying into the Caucasus Mineral Waters airport (MRV), settle in for the scenic drive to Mt. Elbrus, the highest mountain in Europe. Brush up on the history of the Balkar people along the way, among whom you will be spending the next few days. Prepare for a stunning detour for your picnic lunch, at Bylym Lake, an incredible lake nestled among grassy hills and rising rock faces. Once you have completed the breathtaking drive to Mt. Elbrus, check into your hotel and enjoy some free time to explore the area and take in the views around you. Don’t blink, because you will have risen 7,000 feet above sea level on this 3-hour drive without even noticing! Breathe in the fresh mountain air and relax under the clear, night sky.

DAY 2 MT. ELBRUS

Today is dedicated to Mt. Elbrus, the gem of the North Caucasus. After breakfast, you will ascend up 3 levels of cable cars to 14,000 feet (3,800 meters), base camp for Elbrus’s aspiring mountaineers from all over the world. Even in the middle of the summer heat, you will want to dress warm, as it can snow at base camp in August. You won’t want to rush today, as you soak in the majestic views of the Caucasus range all around you. Perhaps your time on the mountain will inspire you to return one day to climb it? After savoring a late lunch of Balkar food with some of the best restaurant views you’ll ever have, descend back down the mountain to Elbrus’s charming souvenir markets, full of tempting local goods, including Caucasus Papakha hats, beautiful hand-knit slippers, shawls, and tasty local jams. Take it easy after dinner as today’s changes in elevation will have surprisingly worn you out!

DAY 3 MT. ELBRUS VALLEY

Wake up to a stunning North Caucasus sunrise high in the mountains. Explore one of the many hidden beauties of the Elbrus valley this morning, as you take an excursion to a jaw-dropping waterfall off the beaten path. In the afternoon, get up and close with a famous Kabardian horse, for a short trot through the lush Elbrus forests. Wrap up this memorable time in Elbrus with a local Balkar family in their home for dinner, trying their famous cheese-filled hichini dish and airan, a yogurt-like drink sure to fill you up.

DAY 4 VLADIKAVKAZ, NORTH OSSETIA

It’s with much sadness that we will leave the beautiful Elbrus region and head deeper into the North Caucasus. As you reflect on all the spectacular beauty you saw at Mt. Elbrus, prepare yourself for even more surprises as you pull into Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia around lunchtime. Just 30 minutes from the border with Georgia, Vladikavkaz is one of the largest cities in the North Caucasus and is rich with culture/history you’ll be sure to “feel” as you tour this old city. Vladikavkaz’s diverse ethnic make-up will become clear quickly, as you pass different churches (Russian and Armenian) and mosques (Sunni and Shia) along the way. A filling dinner awaits, as you try the famous Ossetian pies, topped only by an after-dinner dance party of the national Caucasus dance, the Lezginka.

DAY 5 NORTH OSSETIA

Hit the road again this morning with an excursion into Ossetia’s beautiful corner of the Caucasus Mountains. Today you will cover an array of Caucasus historical and cultural sites: an ancient military fortress, a hidden-away monastery, the famous “Dargavs”, or City of the Dead burial grounds, and unique Ossetian religious beliefs. If the skies are clear, you may even glimpse Mt. Kazbegi in the distance, one of Georgia’s highest peaks. After dinner, feel free to take the night off, or enjoy Vladikavkaz’s night life scene in this far southern corner of Russia.

DAY 6 INGUSHETIA MOUNTAINS

This morning’s drive may feel like you are going back in time, into a land that you didn’t know still existed today. Welcome to Ingushetia, the land of the Towers. Up into the early 20th century, many Ingush families lived for centuries in their families’ complexes of towers, which dot the landscape as far as the eye can see. Although uninhabited today, these tower complexes remain standing all over Ingushetia, turning an already beautiful land into something magical. Your time here would not be complete without experiencing the hospitality of a local Ingush family, trying their tender, boiled lamb meat in the comfort of their home. If you haven’t learned yet, guests are treated like “kings” in the North Caucasus, and we hope you sense the genuine gratitude of all your hosts, that it was their honor to have you in their home. You will rest well tonight after your ascent back into the mountains.

DAY 7 INGUSHETIA MOUNTAINS

If you enjoyed what you saw yesterday, today may be the highlight of your trip. We will spend the day exploring more of Ingushetia’s untamed mountain landscape, visiting ancient sites along the way. One of the most ancient churches in the Caucasus is located in Ingushetia, over 700 years old. For those with a camera and photographic eye, these two days in Ingushetia will be sure to capture your imagination as one of the world’s most beautiful hidden regions. By now, you are probably also starting to grasp the diverse cultural and linguistic richness that inhabits the tiny North Caucasus: Balkars, Ossetians, Ingush, Russians, and many more. You will return to Vladikavkaz in the evening for another night in this nearby city.

DAY 8 GROZNY, CHECHNYA

Say goodbye to memorable Vladikavkaz, as today you will enter yet another part of the North Caucasus, perhaps its most unique republic: Chechnya. The capital Grozny is very beautiful and safe, having been completely rebuilt after the wars of the 1990s and early 2000s, with more foreigners visiting every year. Chechens pride themselves on their hospitality towards guests, and so we are excited to introduce you to this land and people. Once you’ve arrived in the early afternoon, we’ll make sure you have time to tour the city and acquaint yourself with the local Chechen customs and traditions. You’ll spend extra time at Grozny’s “Heart of Chechnya” mosque, the largest mosque in all of Europe. Prepare to be amazed by the exquisite designs of the domes from within, as well as the reverence with which worshipers come and go. It truly is an architectural masterpiece.

DAY 9 CHECHNYA

This morning you’ll make one final excursion into the Caucasus mountain range, to Lake Kezenoy Am, the largest and deepest lake in the North Caucasus. The panorama is truly stunning on a clear summer day. At over 6,000 feet above sea level, Kezenoy Am is tucked away at the far southeast corner of Chechnya, sharing a border with Dagestan. Maybe on your next visit to the North Caucasus you’ll have a chance to venture further east to Dagestan, home to more than 35 distinct languages! Tonight is your final evening in Grozny and who knows, maybe you’ll have a chance to practice your newfound Lezginka dance moves!

DAY 10 PYATIGORSK

Enjoy a slow morning in your last hours in the heart of the Caucasus; sleep in, soak in the views, or enjoy a leisurely breakfast with some mountain tea. Can you believe it?! This is your final full day in the North Caucasus. You will have much to reflect on, on your drive back to Pyatigorsk, where your journey started a week ago! Once checked back into your hotel, grab a quick nap, and prepare yourself for an unforgettable final evening, at a local Russian banya (sauna). Soak in this world-famous Russian health experience, as you relax from your week of travel and adventure. You will be telling all of your friends how it felt to leave the roasting banya room and jump into the nearby pond with its spectacular view of Mt. Beshtau in the background.

DAY 11 DEPARTURE

Pack your bags and say goodbye for now to the North Caucasus, a place we hope you will come back for another adventure in very soon. Fly out of the local Mineral Waters airport (MRV), through Moscow, and back to wherever you call home.

All Our Tours Include:

  • Private English-Speaking Guide
  • Premium Quality Hotels
  • Informative Historical Tours
  • Breakfast

Discover the Caucasus Pricing:

Tour Level 2 People 3-4 People 5-6 People
Economic $4,175 $3,125 $2,315
Classic / Mid-range $4,925 $3,765 $2,975
* All prices are in US Dollars, per person.
For single rooms, a single supplement fee will be applied.
Contact us for larger group pricing.

Because we believe each North Caucasus tour is a trip of a lifetime, we create custom packages and pricing for each of our valued clients
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