Ingushetia (Ингушетия in Russian) is the smallest republic of the Russia Federation, and it keeps getting smaller even nowadays, its territory being given away to the neighboring republics.
For decades the Ingush have been in conflict with North Ossetia, but Ingushetia is hidding some treasures in its mountains : the oldest church in Russia and an insane amount of historical Galgai towers !
Ingush culture is fascinating and their stone towers are representing all their history. Despite being in the shade of their Chechen brothers and having a bad reputation, the republic of Ingushetia and its people are a hidden gem to discover in the middle of the Caucasus.
Last updated : 06/03/2023
The border zone
The border zone starts just a few kilometers before the most interesting historical sites like the Bashennya Kompleks (cover picture) and the beautiful mountains in the south where all the historical towers are located. There is no point to visit Ingushetia without a permit, you will miss all its gems.
My border zone permit application has been accepted within 3 weeks.
Click to see my complete border zone permit guide
Police posts on the roads : There are check posts on the main highway at the border of Chechnya and North Ossetia. You aren’t meant to register at these posts, but if they require you to do so, there might be security problems in the area, so ask them.
They stop vehicules for regular documents and car checks, but they can also shut the roads between the republics for security purpose.
Deportation : Ingush people have been accused of collaboration with the Nazis during World War II. With their Chechen brothers they have been deported in February 1944 by the orders of Stalin and Beria.
The entire population of Ingushetia got deported to Siberia and the steppes of Kazakhstan. Many lost their lives on the way. Within a few days of ethnic cleansing, the name of the Chechen Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was wiped off the map like it never existed.
The Ingush territory was splitted between Georgia, Dagestan and Ossetia. In 1956 Khrushchev and its politics of De-Stalinisation of the USSR allowed the rehabilitation of the punished people. Only in 1957 they were allowed to return to their homeland. Unfortunetely their territory has been reduced by half, never returned by North Ossetia, which led to decades of conflict between them two.
Where to sleep
There are little accomodation in Nazran and Magas. Most of the tourists choose to stay in Vladikavkaz, only 30 kilometers drive from there.
I still recommend you to stay in Nazran, at least for a night. Beyni Guesthouse is great, Nazir and his lovely mom open the guesthouse in the family home.
Magas is 1500 kilometers away from Moscow. About 30 hours by train from Moscow. You can book on the official website (might not work without a VPN) if you own a russian bank card considering Visa and Mastercard aren’t operating in the country anymore.
There are also daily two and a half hours daily flights.
Within the Republic you can travel by marshrutkas (local mini bus) between the cities, including Grozny, Vladikavkaz etc and villages. Pay attention, sometimes there is only one per day. Better ask the locals on the spot.
Hitchhiking works pretty well outside the Erzi Nature Reserve (avoid Fridays), but with a bit of patience it’s totally doable.
You have probably read online that Ingushetia is a “war zone”. It is not. I have spent quite a bit of time in Ingushetia in 2019 and never heard about any danger for foreigners. For locals, it can be different …
The Ossetian – Ingush conflit has been going on for decades following the split of the Ingush terrority during their deportation by Stalin, half of Ingushetia has never been given back by Ossetia. An inter-ethnic conflit that never ceased since then.
There are still violences between the two neighbors sometimes and civil unrest due to political decisions to reduce once more the territory, given to their Chechen neighbors (2018).
The situation can change quickly like it did at the end of 2018 and beginning of 2019 during mass protests against the decision of giving away some land to Chechnya. The Kremlin sent troups from Vladikavkaz tocalm down the civilians protests … See for yourself here. They didn’t enter the city in the end.
If you’re aware of the current situation, no worries to have, and troubles would be happening in either Nazran or Magas, the cities, not in the middle of nowhere in the mountains where you should definitely go !
Must read & watch to learn more
Here’s a list of books to read and documentaries you might find interesting to learn more about Ingushetia and its people.
If you know any other good books and movies/documentaries about Ingushetia, please feel free to share in the comment section !