The Gold of the Caucasus Mountains, October 1 - 9, 2017
Here we’ll combine a photography workshop and an ethnographic tour to the Russian Caucasus.
Traveling through the mountains will take place in the best season, which is early fall. It’s the time for brightness when all possible hues of red, yellow and green make amazing color combinations
When fall comes, it isn’t so hot anymore, but the weather isn’t cold either.
We’ll go to the Caucasus Mountains and visit Alaniya National Park. There you’ll be able to learn more about the Digor and Ossetian culture, history and way of life. We’ll stay in old mountainous villages with locals. You’ll also manage to take pictures of yaks, which graze across the mountains.
We’ll travel along the itinerary by car.
During the tour a well-known Russian photographer will give you advice on the best shooting techniques and photo editing methods. Amateur photographers will enjoy special workshops on mastering sophisticated photo equipment, building the right composition and using filters. If you’re a seasoned photographer, you’ll learn more about shooting panoramas, focus stacking and night photography.
What’s more, the places we’re going to visit are so picturesque that you’ll take stunning pictures with a camera and even a smartphone!
Our professional team includes a photographer, experienced guide, guide from National Park, translator and car driver.
- spend several nights in Alaniya National Park, which is among the most beautiful places of the North Caucasus
- get acquainted with the Digor and Ossetian culture, history and way of life
- meet the local highlanders
- visit “the City of the Dead” that is a unique medieval necropolis in the settlement of Dargavs
- take a look at grazing yaks
- admire landscapes of the Rocky Range and other interesting site of the North Caucasus
- walk along an ecological trail up to the Tsey glacier
- technical grade – basic.
Group gathering in Vladikavkaz. Transfer from the airport to the chosen hotel.
This day includes a tour around the city. If the weather is good, we’ll take a look at a snow-capped peak of Mount Kazbek and angular Mount Stolovaya whose plain summit seems to hang over the city. We’ll walk along the Terek River embankment that is glorified in numerous Russian poems and stroll along a pedestrian street which is Prospekt Mira.
We get in the cars and set off on a far-fetching journey to the Kurtatinsky Gorge in the Caucasian Mountains.
We stop in such a narrow gorge that the peaks seem to meet over the canyon washed out by rivers.
Later we attend the Alanian Monastery of the Holy Dormition which is exceptionally beautiful.
As we’re climbing to the pass, we notice a unique construction hanging over a steep and typical of this location – an Ossetian watchtower. After crossing the pass we reach our destination, which is “the City of the Dead”. This medieval necropolis has majestic architecture and a peculiar way of burial. Once you get inside you’ll see human skeletons that remain almost intact without embalmment.
If road conditions are good enough, we’ll visit the beautiful Karmadon Gorge.
Then we get back to Vladikavkaz.
After having breakfast we go to an old land, which is Digoria. The Digors are the Ossetian people speaking the Digor dialect. While driving through a plain we see the Caucasian Range from the sideline. Once we reach the settlement of Chikola we turn off into the mountains and go inside a narrow gorge.
We stop at the place where the Urukh River has washed out a narrow canyon inside limestones (70 m deep and 10 m wide). There’s a vantage point above the river that is symbolically called “Devil’s Bridge”. Indeed, this bridge is built over an abyss.
Then we make a stop near an equestrian statue located on a high mountain. It’s Uastyrdzhi (Saint George) who is the main Ossetian saint.
After a drive we enter the territory of Alaniya National Park.
We take the turning into a gorge that forms the right creek Urukha of the Songutidon River. Our humble accommodation (the visitor center of National Park) is located in the settlement of Kamata. We stay there for 3 days.
This day we go upstairs Abisalov’s watchtower and stay at the house of a hospitable family living in the settlement of Faraskatta.
We visit old rural settlements in the Songutidon Valley and the Uallagkom Valley.
While we’re going higher, a narrow valley expands and turns into the Uallagkom Valley. There you’ll see three settlements – Dunta, Kamunta and Galiat. However, they’re almost desolated, these settlements have preserved their unique atmosphere.
You’ll be certainly charmed by the stone architecture and traditional Ossetian watchtowers.
A less experienced part of our group goes back to the visitor center while more seasoned travelers can walk along the Rocky Range to the very base. On the way we admire mountainous landscapes that are especially beautiful in fall. There you can even see a herd of wild horses.
After having breakfast we reach the settlement of Galiat. There we start our trekking tour. Our goal is to climb to the pass on the Rocky Range. This place looks like a huge hole in a wall of limestone. If the weather is good and uncloudy, we can take a look at the opposite side of the pass.
Apart from stunning landscapes we can see yaks, amazing mountainous animals.
Right after breakfast we move to another visitor center called Tsey. On the way we stop by the Alania Epiphany Monastery. We discover tunnels inside the mountains and mining settlements, and enjoy great panoramas. Tsey is located in a narrow gorge under Mount Monah.
After check in into a hotel that is much more comfortable than the visitor center in the settlement of Kamata, we explore the surroundings.
We can even visit Rekom sanctuary.
We follow an ecological route to the Tsey glacier. Our trekking tour goes along the Tseydon River. On the way we admire picturesque panoramas. This day we can get to the Skazsky glacier using a ropeway.
This is the last day of our journey. We visit the mountainous settlement of Tib, Sadon and Zgid, and Zaramagsk water reservoir.
Later this day we make our way back to Vladikavkaz.
Unfortunately our nice tour comes to an end. All the group members get on a plane.
Maximum Number of Participants: 8
Everything listed in the tour program together with accommodation and meals is included in the final price. It means that you won’t make any additional payments after arriving to the airport of Vladikavkaz and till you departure from the city in the end of the tour.
- double and triple accommodations along the itinerary, except for the visitor center in National Park (3 nights). While staying in the visitor center, you might be settled with more than two other guests
- transfer from the airport of Vladikavkaz to the chosen hotel
- car & driver services
- gas costs
- three meals a day (FB). In case we’re away from hotels and other bases, you’ll have additional snacks on the way. If you’re vegetarian, let us know beforehand and we’ll prepare the menu without any meat
- an entrance ticket to the necropolis of the settlement of Dargavs
- photographer guidance
- guide services, including detailed information about the culture and traditions of the North Caucasian region
- translator services (English/Russian).
- flight tickets to Vladikavkaz. If needed, we’ll give you detailed instructions on how to book the tickets for these days, and provide you with the links to the official websites of airline companies
- medical insurance and flight delay insurance
- Russian visa (we’ll provide a visa support document, also known as a letter of invitation)
- personal expenses and additional payments for souvenirs
- the ropeway in Tsey in case you decide to use it .
We’ll travel by cars accompanied by experienced drivers, so you won’t have to carry your luggage.
It’s better to leave large suitcases at home, though, as they are hard to place into a trunk. We recommend to take a backpack or a travel bag
You’ll have to carry your own photo equipment.
The itinerary can be slightly changed due to bad weather conditions.
Make sure to buy travel insurance coverage.
We’d like to draw your attention to the fact that we bear no responsibility for changing weather conditions and delayed flights.
You’ll be able to take a hot shower throughout the whole itinerary. What’s more, there will be plenty of points to recharge your batteries.
You shouldn’t worry about food. Although the menu is quite simple, it includes national Caucasian dishes. If you’re vegetarian, let us know and we’ll make a special menu.
You’ll be able to use mobile communication during the whole tour, except for some remote places in the mountains.
The technical grade of this tour is basic, and the journey will be suitable for everyone.
Being a Russian photographer, Andrey sees his mission as showing the world – both his fellow countrymen and foreigners – the true beauty of this largest country. He also wants to draw the public attention to the preserve its unique nature.
Andrey is a member of the Russian Geographical Society.
He made it to the shortlist of the photo contests “35AWARDS 2015” and “Wild Nature of Russia 2015” hosted by National Geographic Russia. One of his shot was included into Top 100 photos of 2015. Andrey became the winner of the photo contest “The Best Of Russia” with his landscape pictures in 2013, 2014 and 2015. He also took part in the photo festival “100 Wonders of the World 2014” and was awarded in the category “Animalistic” in the course of the contest “At the Heart of the Image” hosted by Nikon.
Sergey graduated from the Russian State Geological Prospecting University. He’s a professional traveler with 30+ years experience, guide, photographer and blogger. In the very beginning of his traveling activities Sergey had been engaging in speleology for ten years.
As a member of the Russian Geographical Society and the Artists’ Union of Russia, Sergey aims to show hard-to-reach and little-known places mostly located in Russia.