Abkhazia: Lake Ritsa

Travel to Lake Ritsa

Lake Ritsa is a lake in the Caucasus Mountains, within the territory the unrecognized country of Abkhazia. It is surrounded by mixed mountain forests and subalpine meadows.

The lake was an important tourist attraction during the years of the Soviet Union. Today, it still remains frequented by Russian tourists and others from ex-Soviet states. Although, Western tourists are very few.

Lake Ritsa water is a freshwater lake surrounded by mountains on all sides. The region around Lake Ritsa is known to be of extreme natural beauty, with high concentrations of evergreen boxwood groves.

Many examples of the 'Nordmann Fir,' which can reach heights of over 70 metres, can be found all around the lake. In 1930, the Ritsa Nature Reserve was established to protect the natural state of the lake and the surrounding land.


Gagra is a resort town in Abkhazia on the northeast coast of the Black Sea, and at the foot of the Caucasus Mountain ranges. The region has long been a famous holiday destination for the ruling elite over the territory of Abkhazia.

Its subtropical climate made Gagra a popular health resort in both Imperial Russian and Soviet times, and for generations of royalty before that.

Today, it is popular amongst roughly 1 million annual Russian tourists and many more from former Soviet states.

Gagra is the centre of the district of the same name. It is located in the western part of Abkhazia, and the river Psou serves as a natural border with Krasnodar Krai in the Russian Federation.

Stalin's Dacha

In addition to various members of the Soviet elite, the Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, had one of his summer-houses (dacha) by Lake Ritsa. Later Leonid Brezhnev also had his dacha nearby. Today, Stalin's famous green dacha belongs to the Abkhazian government.

How to Get to Lake Ritsa

Getting to Lake Ritsa is pretty straightforward. All Political Holidays tours to Abkhazia can include Lake Ritsa.

Only a 90km drive from the airport in Adler (Sochi), Russia, or 110km from Abkhazia's capital Sukhum (Sukhumi), the lake can easily be visited on even a short tour of the unrecognized country.

Depending on where you decide to enter from, either Russia or Georgia, most travellers will need to apply for a Russian Visa and an Abkhaz Visa.

In addition, travellers should be aware of the different rules and regulations regarding entrance from either Russia or Georgia.

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