North Ossetia, Ingushetia, Chechnya, Dagestan

“AJoin MIR on a one-of-a-kind adventure to the fascinating and complex North Caucasus region, today experiencing the very beginnings of a revitalization of tourism. Discover the ravishing mountain landscapes, medley of cultures and overflowing hospitality of North Ossetia, Ingushetia, Chechnya and Dagestan, where ancient mountain tribes have guarded their way of life for thousands of years.

For those who are interested, you can make your “Return to the North Caucasus” stretch from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea by adding an optional pre-tour, from July 9-16: Begin in Sochi, meet local people in tiny Mezmay Village, and admire the world’s largest radio-telescope, as well as fantastic views of the tallest mountain in Europe, Mt. Elbrus. Contact us to discuss your options.

14 Day Trip

  • Small Group
    Limited to 12 passengers
  • Travels to:
    Russia
  • Explorer Series:
    Mineralnye Vody to Makhachkala

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Overview Itinerary

MIR Signature Experiences on this Tour
  • Marvel at the pristine landscapes of North Ossetia
    Admire the pristine landscapes of North Ossetia, dotted with ancient watchtowers and pagan shrines....
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  • Enjoy a thrilling demonstration of shashka swordsmanship
    Get acquainted with Circassian culture and the art of wielding the shashka, the traditional Circassian saber, at a demonstration by a master swordsman in traditional dress....
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  • Explore the recently rebuilt capital of Chechnya
    Explore renovated Grozny, capital of the Chechen Republic and once the "most destroyed city in the world," today its elegant avenues lined with high-end stores and galleries. 
...
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  • Discover one of Russia’s least-visited UNESCO Sites
    Survey the ancient Sassanian Persian fortress of Naryn-Kala in Derbent; built in the 5th century, the immense fortress was in continuous use up until the 19th century....
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Why Travel with MIR on this Tour
  • Over 30 years of Russia and South Caucasus travel experience
  • Educational and alumni travel programs from the U.S., New Zealand and beyond have chosen MIR to guide them to Russia and the South Caucasus
  • Twice named one of National Geographic Adventure’s “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth”
  • On-the-ground support and quality you can trust
  • Personalized travel planning from start to finish
  • Guides and tour managers who clients rave about
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Itinerary & Highlights at a Glance

Days 1-2: Mineralnye Vody, Pyatigorsk

Landing in Mineralnye Vody, transfer to your hotel in Pyatigorsk, one of Russia’s oldest health resorts, and the administrative center of the region encompassing the North Caucasus republics. Visit the mud baths in nearby Essentuki, and the tomb of Russian Romantic poet, writer, wit and soldier, Mikhail Lermontov.

Highlights

  • Pyatigorsk, administrative center of the North Caucasian Federal District
  • Essentuki mud baths
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Days 3-5: Tsey, Vladikavkaz (North Ossetia)

Enjoy a thrilling demonstration of proficiency in wielding the shashka, the original Circassian saber. Then drive to the mountain resort of Tsey, admiring some of the most spectacular scenery in this region, with craggy peaks, waterfalls and medieval stone defense towers. Visit the sacred site of Rekom in the Tsey Valley, honoring the most important of the old gods of Ossetia, Uastyrdzhi. Explore the necropolis of Dargavs, sometimes called the “City of the Dead,” because of its resemblance to a village of stone houses. In Vladikavkaz, capital of North Ossetia, enjoy a cooking class, and sit in on a rehearsal of a traditional dance ensemble.

Highlights

  • Nalchik, capital of the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic
  • Off-road drive up the dirt track to Zgid Pass, at 6,500 feet
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Days 6-7: Ingushetia, Grozny (Chechnya), Lake Kezenoy-am

Enter the Russian Federal Republic of Ingushetia, a gorgeous mountain region and the smallest of the Russian republics, populated mainly by the indigenous Ingush people, who have close ties to the Chechens. Grozny, the ravaged but rebuilt capital of Chechnya, is today a bright place featuring a handsome new mosque, a renovated church and a pleasant downtown filled with shops and restaurants. Take a night walk around the modern city, and meet with one of the city’s traditional singing ensembles to hear their songs. Admire alpine Lake Kezenoy-am, the largest lake in the North Caucasus.

Highlights

  • Beautiful mountainous Ingushetia, whose people are Sunni Muslim
  • Grozny’s central mosque, named in honor of Akhmad Kadyrov, the first President of the Chechen Republic
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Days 8-10: Gunib (Dagestan), Kubachi

Drive into Dagestan, the biggest and the most diverse of the North Caucasus republics, with more than 30 languages spoken. Stop at a mill that produces urbech, made of sesame, pumpkin and flax seeds. In a series of villages, visit pottery studios, a workshop where women make sheepskin robes for shepherds, and the homes of jewelry makers. Experience Dagestani hospitality in a rustic homestay in the village of Kubachi.

Highlights

  • Dagestan, the biggest of the North Caucasus republics, spread along the Caspian coast
  • Lunch in a private village home
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Days 11-14: Derbent, Makhachkala

A city of some 120,000, Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia. It is set on a narrow lowland along the Caspian Sea with the Caucasus Mountains barely two miles away. The massive UNESCO-listed Naryn-Kala Fortress dominates the old city. Built by the Sassanian Persians in the 5th century, the immense Naryn-Kala Fortress was in continuous use until the 19th century. Visit the Juma Mosque, built over a Christian church in the 8th century when the Arabs first arrived. Continue to Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, a modern town on the Caspian Sea in the middle of Dagestan with a lively beach scene.

Highlights

  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the “Citadel, Ancient City, and Fortress Buildings of Derbent”
  • Juma Mosque, said to be the oldest in Russia
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See Dates & Prices for more details or to see suggested extensions.

Download Detailed Itinerary
Tour Dates & Prices
Trip Length: 14 Days

Land Tour Price, Per Person
based on double occupancy

  • 8-12 Travelers $6,095
  • Partial Single Supplement $550

2018 Dates

  • July 16-29 - Special booking conditions apply, please call Joanna Millick for more information.
  • $6,095
  • Max 12 Travelers
Inquire Now

Group Size

Really Small Groups – Never More than 12 Travelers. Guaranteed!

What’s Included

On Your Tour

  • A wide range of accommodations from comfortable to reasonable to very rustic (including homestays and guesthouses for a few nights where single rooms may not be available).
  • 13 breakfasts, 12 lunches, and 13 dinners. (main tour)
  • 7 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 7 dinners. (pre-tour)
  • Bottled water at group meals.
  • Restaurant tips for included meals.
  • Services of an experienced, English-speaking MIR Tour Manager with local guides at specific sites.
  • Arrival/departure transfers. MIR will arrange for all travelers to be met on arrival and seen off on departure whether we make your airfare arrangements or not, provided you arrive and depart on the tour start/end dates in the tour start/end cities.
  • Transportation throughout the itinerary by private vehicle (type of vehicle depends on group size and terrain).
  • Guided sightseeing tours and entrance fees as outlined in itinerary.
  • Special events, excursions and cultural performances per the itinerary.
  • Baggage handling where available.
  • Gratuities to local guides, drivers, porters and other service personnel.

Before Your Tour

  • Complete pre-departure information including detailed packing list, reading list, insurance information.
  • Touring with MIR handbook with country-specific information, maps and travel tips.
  • Customized visa application and instruction kit (please note, visa fees are not included in the tour price).
  • Assistance booking your custom flight arrangements (on request; please note that international airfare is not included in the land tour cost).
  • Final document packet including luggage tags, final updates and more.
Download Detailed Itinerary
Prepare for Your Trip

International Airfare

MIR's in-house, full-service air department will gladly assist with your air travel needs.

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Reading List

MIR recommends reading up before you leave home. So settle back in your armchair with some of our favorite books about our favorite places.

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Visas

Most MIR programs require one or more visas, and each visa requires a completely blank page in your passport. Visa information for this particular tour is listed in the Detailed Descriptive Itinerary.

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Travel Insurance

Stay a Little Longer…

For those who are interested, you can make your “Return to the North Caucasus” stretch from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea by adding an optional pre-tour, from July 9-16: Begin in Sochi, meet local people in tiny Mezmay Village, and admire the world’s largest radio-telescope, as well as fantastic views of the tallest mountain in Europe, Mt. Elbrus.

MIR can also arrange for an extended program in Russia; the South Caucasus countries of Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia; Central Asia and Iran; or Eastern Europe. All of MIR’s destinations are open to you. Please contact MIR for more details about exciting options for extended travel.

Or, choose from one of these suggested itineraries:

Is this Trip Right for You?

This Explorer Series program is a very adventurous program to a rustic part of the world, and is only suitable for true explorers: for those with an abundance of curiosity, significant amounts of flexibility and patience, and an eagerness to learn about an obscure region and the complex ethnic groups that comprise this area. Expect schedule changes and long driving days with time-consuming administrative checks; a wide range of accommodations from comfortable to reasonable to very rustic (including a guesthouse and homestays for a total of three nights where single rooms may not be available); and travel by small vans and 4WD vehicles over unpaved terrain (there will be no full-size coaches on this trip).

A full list of details about the rigors of this tour are explained in the Detailed Descriptive Itinerary.

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MIR's Travel Journals offer first hand accounts of MIR's fascinating destinations.

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