Last updated : 19/12/2022
The North Caucasus is a region often overlooked by tourists and mostly known for the wrong reasons.
It took about 60 years to the powerful Imperial Russian army back in the 19th century to conquer the region. Most of the Caucasian tribes united under the banner of Islam and fought fearlessly against the Northern Russian invaders.
Nowadays it is part of the Russian Federation, divided into krais and republics :
It shares borders with Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Georgia and Azerbaijan located on the southern side of the Caucasus mountains.
In 2023 the North Caucasus is still completely off the tourist maps as it is always portayed and believed by many to be Russia’s corner of lawlessness.
Wrong. Things change; the Chechen wars are over, the FSB and all sorts of Russian police are all over the region, keeping it under control.
Here are 7 reasons why you should seriously considering to visit the North Caucasus !
1 – It’s more accessible than you think
Yes, you probably need a Russian visa and a couple of days in a train from Moscow to reach Grozny (Chechnya) or Makhachkala (Dagestan), but that’s it. Forget about the false believe that you need a special permit to enter any republic in the region. You don’t.
2 – Off the beaten track
It is completely off the tourist maps. So off the beaten track that you will barely meet other tourists unless you hike the Elbrus or head to Sochi.
The rest of it is mostly empty of tourists, especially foreigners are nowhere to be seen.
3 – Geopolitics
Wars, inter-ethnic conflicts, nationalism, separatism and much more … The North Caucasus is messy and confusing yet fascinating for those those interested in geopolitics. You will never run out of things to learn overthere !
4 – First class hiking
The North Caucasus has nothing to envy to popular Georgia in the south. High altitude mountains, pristine lakes, glaciers, huge waterfalls, lush green meadows, thick forests, hily mountains and even a sand desert !
Whether you’re an experienced hiker willing to climb the 5 642 meters of Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe, or a beginner hiking the hilly mountains of southern Dagestan, the North Caucasus is for any king of hikers ! Even a simple and easy hike leads you to jawdropping views !
5 – Ethnic and language diversity
From the shores of the Black Sea to the coasts of the Caspian Sea you will see a wide variety of different faces and features : from Slavs, Turkics to obviously Caucasians (no, not whites – the real Caucasians).
You will hear many different languages in the streets (get ready for some crazy sounds !), see different men’s hats and lenth of the skirts getting longer from Sochi to Grozny.
One region to another is so contrasting than you might wonder if you didn’t cross a border to a completely new country !
6 – Picturesque mountain villages
Impressive fortified villages named “aul” in Dagestan built on top of rocky mountains or against steep cliffs and stunning stone made high Vainakh defensive towers in Ingushetia … you will come across the most impressive and epic villages in the whole Russia !
7 – Caucasian hospitality
The number one reason I strongly recommend you to go ! People are absolutely amazing, authentic and their hospitality goes beyond anything you might have ever experienced before !
If you think people in Russia are cold and unfriendly, I urge you to hop on a train to Makhachkala !
Tell me in the comments if this post convinced you to travel to the North Caucasus on your next adventurous trip !