hello, I did not find any post with the key-word Daghestan nor Dagestan nor Daguestan. So, may I ask if anybody active in this forum has any recent and possibly reliable information on safety in Daghestan ? I met a Daghestani in Siberia in april 2016, he told be that North Caucasus, including Daghestan, is much quieter and safer than it used to be. I also see that Russian authorities are now promoting tourism in the area. I just found a couple a messages on the "bikers'" forum Horizons Unlimited, saying it is possible, but these bikers were only in transit by motorbike, or just stayed overnight in a hotel. So, it is not yet clear to me whether travelling by bike in mountains and camping there is OK. Maybe ? If I go there and come back, I'll let you know. But if you can help me to make a "wise decision", I thank you ;-)
cycle-touring in Daghestan ?
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月, 2016-12-19 14:32#1
cycle-touring in Daghestan ?
Hello Monique and Giraud.
Myself also planning for a future trip traversing the North Caucasus. Searching for info the only web I came along has been this one from a guy who has traveled most of Europe and also the North Caucasus and Daghestan as you can see on its route map. Problem is his web is in german. You might want to contact him for information through his facebook. Do you have a blog, facebook or any other means I can follow your trip just in case you go to Daghestan to know about your experience there?. Wishing you a plentiful and enjoyable trip.
thanks, I will look at his site.
When do you plan to travel to Caucasus ?
I have no Facebook account. I sometimes report in a blog, but not for "short" travels. I wrote about my 6 months travel on the Silk Road here : http://blog.khushomaded.fr/
and about my 2 months travel to Baikal there : http://blog.zamir.fr/
Maybe I will update this second blog if I travel to Caucasus. Maybe.
In 2015 I spend about 3 weeks cycling in Dagestan (and Chechnya), in general there is no problem with cycling there. There is peace in the republic, it is safe, people are incredibly hospitable and there is no real terrorist danger. While terrorists attacks might happen, they are very rare and it's the military, police and local authorities who are targeted, it's not against random people on the street. The kidnappings also don't happen any more. There is no problem with camping. It's quite hard to find good spot, though, but people will be happy to host you.
I recall this as a fascinating region and one of my best travelling experiences, both because of people and spectacular scenery.
There were few issues, though:
-Police is required to register all tourists; so every time I entered new region (2-3 per day) I was stopped, had my passport checked, photo taken, shortly interrogated (who I am, when I'm going, what I'm doing here etc.). But they were (except one time) friendly and weren't making any problems. Tip: they might ask you to come with them to the station (and it might require you to go back a bit), but it's enough if they will write down your data on the spot and take the photo of documents.
-If people will spot you camping in the night they might let know to the police, they will probably wait next day on the road and will make a short interrogation (who are you, when did you sleep etc.) - it happened to me once. But as I said, policemen are friendly and they are not making any problems.
-The part closer to the border is under special regime (Пограничная зона) and, unlike in other Russian border zones, it's virtually impossible to get permit for this one. The military is not allowing non-locals in there. But if you just plan your journey further from border there'll be no problem with that.
-If you'll go to Chechnya, the only road in mountains allowed is the one passing by Lake Kezenoyam (озеро Кезенойам), the rest of the mountains is inaccessible without FSB permit as a border zone with high terrorist danger.
Regarding last two, I'm writing about 2015, now the region (especially Chechnya) is rapidly developing tourism, so it's possible that regulations were lightened.
If you have more questions I'll be happy to answer.
Salutations de Paris,
thanks for these informations. With my friend, we are not yet sure whether we will visit Daghestan, Ossetia or Kabardino-Balkharia (we would like them all, but we will not have enough time this year). Mountains may be nore beautiful in Kabardino-Balkharia, but visiting an area where there are almost no tourists may be more interesting to meet people living there.
Approximately how many kilometers from the border is the entrance of the пограничная зона in Daghestan ?
Regarding border zone, it's quite hard to find exact information on how far it does reach. In general, that's what I can say: http://i.imgur.com/tQGw1Nr.png
I hope it's readable :)
Note that in either Kabardino and Ossetia you'll also need permit for the border zone, though there are no safety issues, so obtaining it shouldn't be a problem. In North Osetia almost whole mountainous part is covered by it (except for road Vladikavkaz - Tbilisi and road Alagir - Java), I didn't have permit and got fee of 3000 rubles. I don't know how deep it is in Kabardino, I haven't been there and I don't know if there are special regulations for South Osetia (but I would expect them).
Anyway, I don't think you'll encounter a lot of tourists anywhere in North Caucasus (except the few most popular tourists bases), and no matter the republic you'll be amazed :)
yes, perfectly readable, thank you.
For Kabardino-Balkharia, I received informations from a local guide (Gleb Myasnikov http://www.pilgrim-tours.com/ ) . "Пограничная зона" begins at Verkhnyi Baksan in the Baksan valley (south side of Elbrouz), and just south of Bezengi village in the Tcherek vallley (this checkpoint is visible if you look at satellite views on GoogleMaps carefully).
In North Ossetia I do not know precisely where the border zone begins, but I will apply for a "пограничный пропуск" if I go there, because I am indeed interested by the area very close to South Ossetia. I suspect that going to South Ossetia may require a double entry russian visa, and it is impossible to cross the border from South Ossetia to Georgia.
UPDATE : I hiked in russian North Caucasus this summer ( http://blog.zamir.fr/ ). Without my bike unfortunately : because of an accident in march, I could walk but not ride this summer.
It is a region where riding is interesting, because there are a few very quiet narrow roads (often unpaved) or trails along the main Caucasus range, between valleys. But be careful, very often, these roads enter a border zone which requires a "pogranitchnyi propusk" (border zone permit). One different permit is required for each republic (Ingucheti, North Ossetia - Alania, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karatchayevo-Tcherkess, etc). These permits are delivered by FSB (federal security service) of each republic. FSB gives it for free, but as the process is time consuming, it may be better to ask to a local travel agent to get it for you, and for this service of course you will have to pay.
I ordered my 3 permits to a travel agent in Vladikavkaz. He did the job, but not so well, because on 2 of my 3 permits, there were only 2 districts listed, instead of the whole republic, so that I was not able to visit 2 of the most touristic areas in Kabardino-Balkaria and North-Ossetia (Prielbruzski and Ifarski districts were missing on my "propusk")... Border zones are controlled by many "pogranitchniki" (border guards), even in areas where only well equiped and trained alpinists can indeed go across the border itself.
Apart from these complications with border zone permits, the area is worth a visit. Moutains are beautiful, people hospitable (especially if you are able to talk with them, in russian) and tourists rare. Most of them are russian tourers or alpinists. Few foreigners, most of them from eastern Europe countries (Ukraina, Belarus, Poland...). The area is now reasonably safe. I have not yet been in Daghestan, but maybe next year, hopefully by bike.
well, I am almost ready to leave for North Caucasus,again. This year I will travel with a recumbent trike, since I am not yet able to ride my bike again. I will travel in areas which do not require a border zone permit. As far as I understood, there are many small roads and villages worth the visit in Daghestan, and border zone permits are more difficult to obtain in Daghestan and Tchetchnya than it was in North Ossetia, Kabardino-Balkaria and Ingushetia.
The reason why I re-activate this thread is that I did not find good topographic maps of Daghestan, possibly at 1:100k or 1:200k scale. Of course, I can find small roads on GoogleMaps, YandexKarti or OpenStreetMaps, or search in one of the few sites where old soviet maps can be downloaded. But I would prefer a paper map. My maps of Caucasus area do not show the whole Daghestan, either north-east or south-east of Daghestan are missing...
Does anyone know where I could find such a map ?
I had problems only with police in North Caucasus. Also that was an accident in 2010 in Nalchik - some guy wanted to fight with me cause I was longhaired. So if your look is "exotic"(longhair, earrings etc) you may have some troubles.
I spent 3 weeks in Dagestan this summer. Security is no longer an issue there, except... reckless drivers on major transit roads with heavy traffic. I met police checkpoints a few times, not as often as I expected according to older reports ; policemen were friendly and did not bother me. Almost no foreign tourists, people are hospitable. Some very nice mountain landscapes with small villages built like bird's nests. The sea is pleasant (not very salty, mild water in summer) but the shore is not really beautiful nor very clean...