Abkhazia: The Ultimate Travel Guide

Updated: Nov 11, 2019

Where is Abkhazia?

Abkhazia is located in the South Caucasus region, bordering Russia (near the city of Sochi), Georgia (Country) and the Black Sea.

Is Abkhazia safe?

Short answer, yes. Although Abkhazia is unrecognized, it is in a state of ‘frozen conflict.’ Meaning, there is no active conflict with Georgia and quiet has generally prevailed since the end of the war in 2008.

Within the country itself, general street crime is quite low and crime against tourists is even lower.

Top Things to do in Abkhazia

Abkhazia is home to one of the world’s most unique climates. The small strip of land on the eastern Black Sea coast has been a prime vacation destination for generations of Kings and the Soviet elite.

1) Anacopia Fortress

Anacopia Fortress is an ancient military citadel in New Athos in the Russian sponsored Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia, located some 22 km by road along the coast from Sukhumi. The site, approximately 450 × 150 meters in extent, is located a mile or so inland, at the top of the Iverian Mountain.

2) Lake Ritsa

Lake Ritsa is a lake in the Caucasus Mountains, in the north-western part of Abkhazia, surrounded by mixed mountain forests and subalpine meadows. The road from the Black Sea coast was built in 1936. The resort of Avadhara lies to the north of the lake.

3) Tkvarchal (Tkvarcheli) - Ghost City

Tkvarcheli is an abandoned town in Abkhazia. It is situated on the river Ghalidzga and a railroad connects it with Ochamchire. Akarmara, an area within the town, is a ghost town with abandoned apartments and factories which became uninhabited in the early 1990s due to the War in Abkhazia.

4) New Athos Monastary

New Athos Monastery is a monastery in New Athos, municipality of Gudauta, in Abkhazia, founded in 1875 by monks who came from the St. Panteleimon Monastery in Mount Athos.

They founded the church of St. Panteleimon on Mount Iveria, on the territory of present New Athos.

5) Pitsunda

Pitsunda or Bichvinta is a resort town in the Gagra district of Abkhazia.

6) Stalin’s Summer Residence

Built in 1947, the holiday home or 'dacha' as it's known in Russian was home to the communist dictator and his family during the warm summer months in Abkhazia.

7) Abkhazia State Museum

A museum about the state and the history of Abkhazia.

8) Gagra

Gagra is a town in Abkhazia, sprawling for 5 km on the northeast coast of the Black Sea, at the foot of the Caucasus Mountains. Its subtropical climate has made Gagra a popular health resort in Imperial Russian and Soviet times.

9) The Beach

You can go to the beach anywhere right? However, the unique climate of Abkhazia have made the Black Sea beaches a pristine holiday destination for centuries.

10) Krubera Cave

Krubera Cave is the second-deepest-known cave on Earth after the Veryovkina Cave. It is located in the Arabika Massif of the Gagra Range of the Western Caucasus, in the Gagra district of Abkhazia.

11) Kodori Valley

The Kodori Valley is a river valley in Abkhazia. The valley’s upper part is sparsely populated by Svans, and the only corner of post-1993 Abkhazia that is directly controlled by the central Georgian government.

It is very difficult to obtain the permit but it is definitely worth the try!

Why is Abkhazia not in the U.N?

In the case of Abkhazia, American and European-aligned countries do not consider Abkhazia a legitimate country. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the general policy of western countries was to only recognize the independence of Soviet Socialist Republics and not autonomous regions within those republics, or other regions seeking independence.

This has led to Abkhazia’s unrecognized status as an independent state and therefore, its inability to join international organizations such as; the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In addition, the international community has refrained from recognizing separatism in recent years, opting rather for other solutions within their existing state framework.

Is Abkhazia a country?

As with all Unrecognized Countries, the nature of their status revolves around the fact that few or no other countries recognize their sovereignty over their claimed territory. This could be for any number of reasons.

With that said, the facts on the ground prove the non-recognition camp wrong. Abkhazia does in fact have sovereignty over its borders and a government who has a monopoly on the use of force within those borders. In addition to that, it has its own distinctive language and a unique history from surrounding countries as its own ethnic group.

How do I enter Abkhazia?

Abkhazia can be entered from both a land border crossing with Russia and a land border crossing with Georgia.

In 2019, the border with Georgia was closed for three months following anti-Russia protests in Tbilisi over what the citizens claimed is Russian occupations in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. As of October 2, 2019, the border with Georgia has been officially reopened.

Although, if you enter from Russia, you cannot exit through Georgia as you have entered their territory illegally, according to Georgia.

Do I need a visa to enter Abkhazia?

The answer to this question depends on which passport you possess and from which country you want to enter Abkhazia.

If you are from a North American or EU country, you can generally enter Georgia without a visa and only need an Abkhazian Visa. On the other hand, you will need a double entry Russian Visa if you decide to begin your journey in Russia. Tourists part of organized tours can access the region visa-free for up to 24 hours.

Holders of Russian, Nicaraguan, Tuvalu, Belarusian and Kazakh passports can enter Abkhazia visa-free. In addition All members of the Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations have agreed to abolish visa requirements for their citizens. This includes: the Donetsk People’s Republic, Luhansk People’s Republic, Transnistria, Artsakh and South Ossetia.

What currency is used in Abkhazia?

Unlike many other unrecognized countries, Abkhazia does not print its own unrecognized currency. The primary currency of Abkhazia is the Russian Ruble.

Who recognizes Abkhazia?

The only other U.N. member states who recognized Abkhazia are; Russia, Syria, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru.

How did Abkhazia gain independence?

Abkhazia declared its independence after its war with Georgia in 1992–1993. Its Constitution was adopted on 26 November 1994. Since then, it has retained de-facto independence over its borders and Tbilisi has not asserted any control over the territory of Abkhazia.

Who are the Abkhazians?

Abkhazians or the Abkhaz are a Northwest Caucasian ethnic group, mainly living in Abkhazia, a disputed region on the Black Sea coast. A large Abkhaz diaspora population resides in Turkey, the origins of which lie in the population movements from the Caucasus in the late 19th century. Many Abkhaz also live in other parts of the former Soviet Union, particularly in Russia and Ukraine.

What language is spoken in Abkhazia?

Abkhazians speak the Abkhaz language. Also known as Abkhazian, it is a Northwest Caucasian language most closely related to Abaza. It is one of the official languages of Abkhazia, where around 100,000 people speak it.

Furthermore, it is spoken by thousands of members of the Abkhazian diaspora in Turkey, Georgia's autonomous republic of Adjara, Syria, Jordan and several Western countries. The Russian census of 2010 reported 6,786 speakers of Abkhazian in Russia.

Are there any foreign embassies in Abkhazia?

As Abkhazia is an unrecognized country, it is not home to any western embassies. The only diplomatic missions currently in Abkhazia are of Russia and other unrecognized countries. In addition, Nicaragua and Venezuela operate non-resident embassies for Abkhazia from Moscow in Russia.

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