Price

$3389 AUD per person

$450AUD Single Supplement

Inclusions

  • Return airport transfers
  • 6 nights accommodation
  • Daily Breakfast and lunch, 4 x Dinners
  • All transfers, sightseeing and excursions by air-conditioned vehicle as per itinerary
  • Entrance fees as per itinerary
  • Services of qualified licensed English speaking local guide as per itinerary

Exclusions

  • International flights
  • Visas
  • Travel and medical insurance
  • All services, meals other than those indicated above
  • Any changes to the proposed and confirmed program.
  • All items of a personal nature e.g. drinks, laundry, telephone calls, tips etc

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Depths of Dagestan

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Hidden in the north Caucasus region in the far south east of Russia, Dagestan, officially the Republic of Dagestan which translates to 'Land of the Mountains', shares with its Caucasian neighbours the towering mountains of the Greater Caucasus, rushing Caucasian rivers, and mountaintop villages clinging onto spectacularly sheer cliffs. But in an already diverse region, most commonly known for its tumultuous past of Russian flashpoints, Dagestan is a wonderland of ethnic and cultural diversity offering breathtaking scenic beauty. About 35 separate ethnolinguistic groups live in this republic and the region contains an amazing 12 language families! Prepare to be greatly rewarded by the very friendly and hospitable people, incredible natural beauty, cultural diversity and impressive historical sites. Join us on this off the beaten path experience as we explore this misunderstood region and delve into its cultural brilliance.

Day 1 - Arrival Dagestan

Welcome to Russia! Upon arrival at Makhachkala International Airport “Uytash” airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

Upon arrival, you will be transferred to the ancient city Derbent – located on the Caspian Sea, north of the Azerbaijani border. It is the southernmost city in Russia, and it is the second-most important city of Dagestan. Derbent occupies the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century B.C. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms. In the 19th century, the city passed from Iranian into Russian hands by the 1813 Treaty of Gulistan.

Your first experience is a chance to enjoy a welcome lunch at a local restaurant to sample the Dagestan cuisine. After lunch it is time to depart for some sightseeing of the local area.

Your first stop will be the 5,000 year old citadel, ancient city and fortress site that UNESCO made part of the their world heritage list in 2003. Have the chance to see why this gem is protected when you pay a visit and get up close to this remarkable area of significance.

Accompanied by your guide, you will walk along the Citadel Naryn-Kala and hear about the fascinating history of this marvel. Next stop is a visit to the most ancient mosque of Europe, the Juma Mosque. Then it is onward to Peter House, Church of the Intercession, Synagogue Kele-Numaz, Kahn’s Baths, Museum of World Culture and Religion History and the final stop to enjoy a masterclass of carpet making.

After a full day of sightseeing, you will have worked up an appetite for a Caucasus feast, tonight dinner will be a local restaurant and your guide will help you decipher the local picks. (L,D)

Overnight 4 star hotel

 

Day 2 – Derbent to Kubachi

After breakfast, it is time to depart for a scenic drive to Kubachi – around 3 hours from Derbent. Kubachi is famous for their crafts, namely Kubachi ware, a style of Persian pottery. Everyone in Kubachi is involved in craftmanship and this tradition is something they are extremely proud of. it is extremely humbling to engage with a local community so tightly bound by their age old traditions.

Upon arrival, there will time for lunch at a local café. After lunch, you will walk along the old settlement of Kubachi. The 2-3hr walk will take in a visit to the Kubachi Tower and a private house museum – there will be a chance for you to purchase some local handicrafts and chat with the locals.

Then it is on to learn about the art of goldsmithing in the village of goldsmiths – walk along the narrow streets and visit the workshops of local artisan craftsmen.

Your afternoon and evening will be at leisure. (B,L)

Overnight in a Private Guest House

Day 3 – Kubachi to Gunib Settlement

After breakfast, it is time to put on your walking shoes and set off on foot to get acquainted with the old villages and the beautiful architecture of Amuzgo and Kala Koreish. This 3 hour hour return walk from Kubachi will provide a chance to learn about this area and how it was the first Muslim settlement in the Caucasus region.

Lunch will be served at a local restaurant, then it is time to depart for your next stop – Gunib Settlement. The drive will take around 4 hours and will wind through some scenic vistas enroute.

Upon arrival you will check into your home for the evening where you can relax and enjoy the mountain serenity. Tonight, there the opportunity to be part of a local dance class – come along and learn some new moves or just enjoy watching! (B,L)

Overnight at Complex Orliny Gnezdo or similar

Day 4 – Gunib Settlement to Makhachkala

After breakfast depart you will visit Gunib viewpoint – this is a chance to have a photo stop and take in the surrounding area. Look out for the monument of Rasul Gamzatov. Gunib was historically important as a natural fortress during the Caucasian War of the 19th century. Imam Shamil, leader of the Chechen and Daghestani tribes, made his last stand against the Russians at Gunib, where he gave himself up to the Russian commander, Prince Alexander Baryatinsky, on August 25, 1859. And today you are going to learn more about the stories and history that make Gunib. Then it is onward to walk across Tzar meadow and visit the local history museum.

After lunch at local café, you will drive to Saltinsky waterfall, a one hour drive from Gunib and a real wonder of nature. It is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Russia and is stunning in any weather. When it rains, it impresses with its cascading falls, whilst in sunny weather it surprises with its rainbow of colours.

Continue on for the four hour drive to the town of Makhachkala where you will stay overnight. Upon arrival, check in at your hotel and enjoy dinner at a local restaurant. (B,L,D)

Overnight in a 4 star hotel

Day 5 - Makhachkala

After breakfast it is time to enjoy a tour of the old city. Makhachkala is the capital city of the Republic of Dagestan. It is located on the western shore of the Caspian Sea and is home to the Makhachkala Grand Mosque, one of Russia’s largest. Founded as a fortress of the Russian Empire in 1844 and given city status thirteen years later, the city bore the name of the Russian Tsar Peter the Great until 1921.

Today you will visit the Museum of Fine arts, the Local history museum and The Centre of Ethnic Culture. After your morning arts, history and cultural touring it is time to enjoy a leisurely lunch.

Your afternoon and evening will be at leisure. (B,L)

Overnight in a 4 star hotel

Day 6 – Makhachkala

After breakfast, you will head off for the very beautiful Sulaksky Canyon. The two hour drive will take you past some scenic vistas – sit back, relax and enjoy this drive through Dagestan country.

Visit Dagestan Nature Reserve – an area of sand dunes and ridges on the northwest coast of the Caspian Sea. The reserve, a winter home for migratory birds, is the richest nature reserve in Russia in terms of the number of species – over 300 species have been recorded in the reserve, its buffer zones and subordinate reserves. The reserve is part of several “Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas”. The Sarykum sand dune is the highest sand dune in Europe, at 262m (860 ft). Have your camera ready there is sure to be wildlife and birdlife sightings you will want to capture.

After a morning of being out and about in nature you will have worked up an appetite – lunch today will be at the Oak Forest or Trout Farm (may change seasonally).

After lunch, you will return to Makhachkala. Upon arrival, head out for dinner at a local restaurant. (B,L,D)

Overnight in a 4 star hotel

Day 7 – Departure

After breakfast, it is time to explore the ‘Oriental Bazaar’ and pick up some last minute gifts or momentos to take home as a reminder of your travels. After lunch transfer to the airport for your onward flight. (B,L)