The North Caucasus: The Ultimate Travel Guide
Updated: Nov 11, 2019
What is the North Caucasus (Russian Caucasus)?
The region once part of the Soviet Union, was the outer border of the Soviet Union's North Caucasus Krai. Today, it includes an oblast (Rostov Oblast), two krais (Krasnodar Krai and Stavropol Krai), and seven republics including; Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan.
Where is the North Caucasus?
The North Caucasus or Ciscaucasia is the northern part of the Caucasus region between the Sea of Azov and Black Sea on the west and the Caspian Sea on the east.
Geographically, the Northern Caucasus (territory north of the Greater Caucasus Range) includes the various Russian republics in southern Russia.
The region borders the countries of Georgia and Azerbaijan, and the Unrecognized Countries of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Is the North Caucasus safe?
Although the region had a bad name throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, it has become one of Russia’s fastest growing and most beautiful regions.
The Russian government has been very successful in their attempt to modernise the region and enforce the safety of its inhabitants.
Top Things to do in the North Caucasus
The North Caucasus is the most diverse region of Russia, with dozens of ethnicities and even more languages in small mountainous areas. It is also home to some of the most beautiful and pristine nature, hidden deep in the Caucasus Mountains.
Grozny is the capital city of Chechnya, Russia. The city lies on the Sunzha River.
Vladikavkaz, formerly known as Ordzhonikidze and Dzaudzhikau, is the capital city of the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania, Russia.
It is located in the southeast of the republic at the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains, situated on the Terek River.
Makhachkala is the capital city of the Republic of Dagestan, Russia. It is located on the western shore of the Caspian Sea and is home to the Makhachkala Grand Mosque, one of Russia's largest.
4) Akhmad Kadyrov Mosque
The Akhmad Kadyrov Mosque is located in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya. It is one of the largest mosques in Russia and is officially known as "The Heart of Chechnya".
5) Defensive Towers
The Vainakh tower architecture is a characteristic feature of medieval architecture of Chechnya and Ingushetia. Vainakh architecture was also distributed to north-eastern Georgia (Dartlo, Tusheti) by Chechen builders and are as well conceptually similar Svan towers. Some towers were used as dwellings, others had a military purpose; some combined both functions.
6) Mount Elbrus
Mount Elbrus is a dormant volcano in the Caucasus Mountains in Southern Russia, near the border with Georgia.
It could be considered the highest mountain in Europe, notwithstanding that the Caucasus mountains are at the intersection of Europe and Asia, and it is the tenth most prominent peak in the world.
Derbent, formerly romanized as Derbend, is a city in the Republic of Dagestan, Russia, located on the Caspian Sea. It is the southernmost city in Russia, and it is the second-most important city in Dagestan.
8) Border Regions
The mountains in the border regions (with other states) have some of the most beautiful nature and scenery in all of Russia. Don’t be discouraged, but these pristine mountain ranges require extra permits for foreigners to visit.
9) Lake Kazenoy-Am
Lake Kezenoy-am is the deepest lake in the Caucasus Mountains, mostly in Chechnya but partly in Dagestan in the Russian Federation. It goes through Andiyskiy Khrebet. It is situated at an altitude of 1870 m above sea level.
10) Kislovodsk National Park
Enormous, picturesque national park with trails & cycling paths through forests, gardens & rivers.
Who represents the North Caucasus in the U.N?
As the North Caucasus is part of theRussian Federation, their interests are represented by the Russian delegation to the United Nations.
How do I enter the North Caucasus?
The North Caucasus region is easily entered through many of the international hubs in Russia, as well as land borders from neighbouring countries, primarily from Azerbaijan to Dagestan.
Do I need a Visa to enter the North Caucasus?
This is a question that demands a two-part answer. Firstly, because the region is part of Russia, tourists from Canada, the USA, the EU, Australia, New Zealand and many other western countries will require a Russian entry visa in order to visit the region.
In addition, foreign nationals need special permits to enter mountain regions which lie on the border of the North Caucasus republics and foreign states.
In such cases, a 35 day notice is required in order to receive these special border permits from the Russian government.
What currency do they use in the North Caucasus?
The primary currency of the North Caucasus is the Russian Ruble.
Is the North Caucasus a country?
No, the North Caucasus and all of its republics are part of the Russian Federation.
Although, the region does not lack its separatist movements, as seen during the 1990s and early 2000s.
Who are the People of the North Caucasus?
The North Caucasus is an extremely diverse region of Russia, comprising more than 50 ethnic groups throughout region. In addition, Dagestan, is the single most diverse region, with over 30 different languages spoken.
Within the region, a large portion of its inhabitants speak indo-European, Semetic or Turkic languages.
According to the Russian Census, the largest groups are as follows; the Chechens (1,500,000), the Lezgins (about 800,000), the Kabardins (600,000) and the Avars (500,000).
What language is spoken in the North Caucasus?
As stated above, the North Caucasus is an extremely diverse region. As such, there are dozens of different languages spoken in the region.
With that said however, Russian serves as the lingua franca for most of its inhabitants and a large percentage of the region's inhabitants are bi or multi-lingual. Please note that English is not widely spoken in the region.
Are foreign embassies present in the North Caucasus?
Because the North Caucasus lies within the territory of the Russian Federation, foreign tourists have access to all of the diplomatic mission present within Russia.
Will travelling to the North Caucasus affect future travel plans?
No. Travelling to the region might attract a few questions from authorities in other countries, however it is completely fine. In addition, your point of entry into the country will most likely (not always) be through a major Russian airport such as Moscow.
Your Russian visa (should you require one), will be the main evidence in your passport of travel to the region.