What to see in Karachay-Cherkessia

What to see in Karachay-Cherkessia

Experienced travelers compare the luxurious landscapes of the republic with Switzerland. And there really is a similarity – there is also mountain air, meadows, smells.

But these places are still special. In Karachay-Cherkessia, cultures of many peoples and events of different years, real stories and ancient legends are intertwined. The Caucasus Mountains and the surrounding area keep centuries-old secrets that are interesting to find out. It’s also worth coming here to see with your own eyes the incredibly beautiful nature of this region. 

We have made a selection of interesting places and useful tips that will help make your vacation eventful and enjoyable.

How to get there

From Moscow you can fly to Mineralnye Vody airport (tickets per person from 4,000 rubles* one way), the travel time is 4 hours. From there to the final point, the village of Arkhyz, you will have to travel another 3-3.5 hours by taxi or rent a car in Minvody. 

And don’t let the travel time scare you—it won’t be boring. Outside the window, mountains slowly grow, and you can see several interesting places included in the excursion program: an ancient temple, the famous observatory (the largest radio telescope in Europe), the capital of the Cherkessk Republic. 

And along the way you can get into an unusual traffic jam: car traffic stops because of sheep, cows or horses crossing the road. Animals are accustomed to transport and are absolutely not afraid of it, so you can see, for example, a small foal and film a flock of 6-7 thousand heads. 

Where to stay

We recommend staying near the village of Arkhyz. There are a sufficient number of attractions here, and some can even be reached on foot. 

The cost of a room in the Aura chalet starts from 3,500 rubles* per day, accommodation at the KORONA hotel – from 3,800 rubles*. 

Those who prefer a calm and measured holiday will feel comfortable in secluded hotels between populated areas. A room at the Amra Hotel with panoramic views of the mountain range will cost from 3,500 rubles* per night. Accommodation at the Gornaya Rosa hotel starts from 5,000 rubles*. 


There are many of them in the republic. The most picturesque and accessible are Sofiysky and Bely. Both can be reached from Taulu Glade in less than an hour. The meadow itself is located 6 km from Arkhyz and can be easily reached by car or taxi. Or walk if your hotel is nearby.

Sofia Waterfalls are a stunning sight, a cascade of 9 powerful streams of water falling from a height of 50–90 meters from the slope of Mount Sofia. You can get there by off-road vehicle, on horseback or on foot. In the latter case, you will have to spend the night in the mountains. To do this, you need to acquire tents and everything you need in advance. 

What to see in Karachay-Cherkessia

The end point of the car route is quite far from the waterfall itself. An incredible view opens up from there too, but if you want to take a closer look at the landscape, there is a “drop-in” option. The driver leaves you for the required number of hours, and you go to the streams on foot. The path is not very difficult, but it will still require some skill to cross mountain streams, cross a river and overcome slopes. But you will probably meet cows with bells hanging around their necks. You can quench your thirst with water from streams; it is suitable for drinking here. 

And the main thing is the landscapes. Even the most professional video will not be able to convey their beauty. 

White Falls is significantly smaller, but should not be underestimated. The road will also not leave anyone indifferent. Part of the way you will go uphill, and then… straight along the Belaya River. This is an unforgettable experience, especially if you notice that water is rapidly flowing into the interior of the car. The driver takes you to the gorge at an altitude of 1670 meters, where the waterfall is located, and then you have to climb on foot. The journey will only take about 10 minutes, but you will have to walk uphill, and you should be prepared for this. 

What to see in Karachay-Cherkessia

The waterfall seems to be hidden behind a rock, so the viewing platforms are located on several levels. The first ones can be easily reached on foot from the landing site, but there are others that require climbing up a steep slope. The last point is most often conquered by athletes, photographers and bloggers.

Tourists usually prefer to get to the White Falls by car, but horseback riding and hiking are also available.

Climbing up to the waterfall, you can see Mount Amanauz, which used to be called “Bad Mouth”. Local residents claim that it got its name due to the fact that during the climb (it was so difficult) people often cursed. But later, for tourists, the translation was adapted as “evil mouth”, they say, it’s a dangerous place there.


Karachay-Cherkessia is a lake region, and the choice of bodies of water for relaxation and exploration here is quite wide. Almost all of them are located high in the mountains, so the road itself is also a landmark.

One of the simplest and most interesting objects is the Dukka Lakes, located in the valley of the Malaya Dukka River. It’s a long walk from the landing site – about two hours to Semitsvetnoye and about an hour to the Malaya Dukka lakes. But the road is not difficult even for young travelers. The main thing is to have comfortable shoes, a raincoat (just in case) and a snack. And you can scoop water straight from the river.

What to see in Karachay-Cherkessia

Green slopes, flowering meadows and lakes themselves with water of different shades await you. Almost until mid-summer you can see ice floes that have not yet melted. The photos turn out truly fabulous.

In the gorge of the Psysh River at an altitude of 2.8 km above sea level there is a whole chain of lakes: Severnoe (the highest), Sofia (the deepest), Nizhneye and several other small ones. You can get there by SUV from the Taulu clearing. Amazing nature, unusual color of water and incredible sensations, but the path is thorny – you will have to walk for about three hours.


If you have time, plan a trip to the city of Teberda. You can do it in one day – the journey from Arkhyz takes 2-2.5 hours, there is a bus along the route, but it is more comfortable to stay overnight.

It is here, not far from the main street, that the oldest relict lake Kara-Kel (Black Lake), which is about 10 thousand years old, is located. It got its name due to the large amount of algae that gives the water a dark tint.

What to see in Karachay-Cherkessia

Among the many mountain lakes, this is the one that warms up the most – up to 20 degrees – and is suitable for swimming. 

Of course, many blood-chilling legends about underground caves and monsters are associated with the “black lake”. There is no exact information about the latter, but there are underground springs here. Therefore, you should be extremely careful and not swim into deep water. But there is also a good legend: locals believe that lake water can heal wounds.

And if you want excursions here, you can go to Mount Mukha, from the top of which beautiful panoramic views of the gorge open up.

There are also many different options for independent excursions in the resort areas of the republic. One of the most beloved and uncomplicated tourist attractions in Karachay-Cherkessia is the Milky Way lift in the village of Romantik. In winter, it brings skiers to the slope, and in the warm season it offers stunning views, and even fantastic views from the top of the mountain – a panoramic view from a height of 2,240 meters of the Abishira-Ahuba ridge and mountain lakes.

What to see in Karachay-Cherkessia

It’s worth going back down the four-kilometer-long eco-trail. The road is quite simple and picturesque. You can not only have a great workout, but also hear the murmur of mountain streams, birdsong, meet grazing horses, enjoy healthy and truly tasty mountain air. 

What to try

Local cuisine is worthy of close attention. The main ingredients of the dishes are flour, meat, dairy products and corn.

If you are tasked with eating for half a day ahead, feel free to order the traditional dish of mountain shepherds sokhta – homemade liver sausage made from beef or lamb liver with the addition of rice. There is generally a large selection of sausages here, including horse and goat meat. 

Boiled potatoes are usually served as a side dish, but there is another, traditional one – pasta. Nothing to do with pasta; here they call thick wheat porridge with semolina.

For those who also want to thoroughly quench their appetite, but don’t like meat, we recommend trying khichina. This is a local classic: flatbreads made from unleavened dough with a variety of fillings: cheese, herbs, potatoes, cabbage.

What to see in Karachay-Cherkessia

Traditional desserts are not very popular in Karachay-Cherkessia, but there are still some interesting things. For example, sweet pastries – lakums. Or local halva, which is prepared from corn, millet, and sometimes even rice. 

You can wash it down with suusab, which is found in almost all cafes and restaurants. This is ayran mixed with mineral water; it perfectly quenches thirst and energizes you. Also on the menu of any establishment is a wide variety of teas, including those made with mountain herbs. 

Alcohol is not welcome in the republic, but if you really want to, as an experiment you can try boza (a low-alcohol grain drink), described in the folk Karachay-Balkar epic, or chagyr (fruit and berry wine).

Alien landscapes, healing air that can overcome even seasonal allergies, a sea of ​​pleasant emotions and impressions – it may well turn out to be a dream trip. 

*Prices valid at time of publication.

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