The Russian Caucasus is an enchanting region, ethnically diverse with towering, rugged mountains. However, since the end of the Soviet Union it has been more infamous for insurgency. Chechnya was for 20 years a byword for a failed state. However, behind the headlines there is much to enjoy in this misunderstood region. Exploring the UNESCO world heritage city of Derbent in the far south of Daghestan, experiencing the personality cult of Ramzan Kadyrov in the new, glitzy Grozny or standing in awe before the soaring stone Chechen watchtowers of Itum Kale are just some of the tapestry of experiences on offer in Russia’s far south. All set off with a backdrop of the sublime Caucasian mountains topped by Europe’s highest peak, the two-headed Mt Elbrus. In 2012 we became the first British travel company to run trips to Chechnya so get in contact with us on one of our ground breaking trips to the region.
Located on the Caspian Sea and north of the Azerbaijiani border, Derbent is a city in the Republic of Dagestan. It’s the southernmost city in Russia and also claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documents dating back to the 8th Century BCE. Because of its geographical location forming a gateway between the Eurasian steppes, Caucasus Mountains and Caspian Sea, Derbent has seen a vast array of cultures play a part in its history from Persians, Arabs, Mongols and more
Located on the Gizeldon River, Dargavs was a center of the ancient Ossetian province of Tagauria. Although this is a little visited corner, the outskirts of Dargavs has an intriguing necropolis known as the ‘City of the Dead’. Comprising 99 different tombs and crypts, some say it dates back as far as the 12th Century.
Grozny is the capital city of the Chechen Republic. Despite having suffered a number of a wars and once even being declared “the most destroyed city in the world”, Grozny is now in a state of prosperity with significant rebuilding and development programs in place. This bustling Chechen metropolis is worth visiting to see its iconic Central Dome Mosque, the largest in Russia, along with the Church of St. Michael the Archangel juxtaposed against the modern skyline.
The Nakh watchtowers were a defining piece of medieval architecture from the Nakh peoples who inhabited Chechnya and Ingushetia. The oldest of the Nakh’s towers dates back to the 1st Century AD, however there are also remnants of even older communities left behind in the 3rd millennium BC by the Hurrians and Urartians whom were close relatives to the Nakh.
2The highest mountain in Russia and Europe at 5642m also holds the record of being the 10th most prominent peak in the world and also a Seven Summit. Although the first ascent of the peak was completed in 1829 by a guide working for an Imperial Russian Army’s scientific expedition its certainly worth trekking amongst its surroundings or even attempting the summit, which is of low technical difficulty
RATAN-600 TELESCOPE IN ZELENCHUKSKAYA
Even if you’re not directly interested in astronomy or extra-terrestrials, it’s well worth visiting the RATAN-600 telescope in Zelenchukskaya which is the largest radio telescope on earth with a 600m diameter.
Pyatigorsk, meaning “five mountains”, is one of the oldest spa towns in Russia. If a massage and a swim isn’t your thing, you can also wander through this historical town which has been visited by iconic names such as the 14th Century Arabian traveller Ibn Battuta and Peter the Great in the 17th Century, all seeking out or researching the mineral springs which Pyatigorsk is so famous for.
Visa required for most nationalities. Must be applied for in advance at a Russian embassy or consulate.
Being the largest country in the world the weather varies although it is all in the Northern hemisphere meaning all areas experience warmer summers and colder winters. Worst time of year to visit is in November.
For up to date exchange rates please have a look at www.xe.com
Two prong European style systems (types C and F).
Most guesthouses and hotels have Wifi. In cities 4G works well.
Dill. Dill. And more dill. Lots of potatoes, beetroot and root vegetables. Meat and fish centre in most dishes. Other popular grain is Bulgur Wheat.
Alcohol is permitted and is widely available.
Russian Orthodox Christianity
No special dress code.
SAFTEY & SECURITY
The FCO considers Russia to be a low risk travel region. However it does advise against travel to the regions bordering Ukraine as well as parts of the North Caucasus. Primarily this is due political reasons rather than direct safety risks. We take precautions when travelling to these region of Russia. Contact us for information on how we work to minimise risk for our guests and staff.