Pioneering Horseback expedition in Kabardino Balkaria

14 days

The landscapes are very different from the southern Georgian slopes. These are rather large spaces with mountains that rise very gradually towards the highest peaks of the Caucasus Moutains (Dikh Tau and Elbrus 5600m). We sometimes find ourselves at 3000m with the feeling of being only at 1500m. The immensity of open landscapes gives another dimension. The route is varied in terms of landscapes and you will be surprised by the changes quite sudden sometimes. We are moving the first 3 days until we reach the horses sommer camp. From there they are another 3 days camp based. We enjoy the fresh Kabardine cuisine specialities every evening and overnight in tent. The location of the camp is just magical : We are in the middle of the herd of kabardine horses living free and away from 2 horses strides of an extraordinary Elbrus sight. From there, day trips are worth definitely it, discovering hidden spots, canyons, caves during the day and enjoying amazing sceneries in the evening. As for cultural and historical interest, it is immense ... the combinaison of the two countries, the passage through the Darial gorge (the only passage in the Caucasian barrier), the different architectures and atmosphere from Naltchik to Vladikavkaz (which was called Ordjonikidze, Georgian name) and Tbilisi. Horses: A real selection of Kabardine. They are sorted on the shutter and the best are mounted. To have them tested, it's not a joke. Local equestrian material. The Cherkess saddlers are known in Russia. Besides, you will have the opportunity to discover the methods of manufacture by a craftsman.

  • 1. Full board except the free meals described in the program
  • 2. Transportation described in the itinerary.
  • 3. Accommodation: 3 nights in hotel or guesthouse in Tbilisi, 2 nights in a 3* hotel in Russia, 2 nights in a family guesthouse nights in Russia, tent all the trek. Single room extra charge of 60 euros / night, possible in hotel only. Lunch is often a picnic.
  • 4. Entrance fees described in the program. (The visits during the free time are on your own expenses).
  • 5. French, English and German speaking guide.
  • 1. Airline ticket.
  • 2. Russian Visa
  • 3. Russian invitation : 20 euros
  • 4. Full Insurances.
  • 5. Personal expenses
  • 6. Alcoholic beverage in restaurant.
  • 7. Personal medicine.
  • 8. Small flash light or torch.
  • 9. Small knife.

Day 1: Arrival in Tbilisi

Arrival in Tbilisi. Pick up at the airport. Overnight in Tbilisi in hotel located in the very center of Tbilisi.


Day 2: Tbilisi-Mskheta-Ananuri-Kazbeg-Vladikavkaz

Today we are driving on the very well know and famous Darial gorge, the only and first passage through the Caucasus mountain chain. The Darial originates from Dar-i Alān (الن در (meaning "Gate of the Alans" in Persian. The Alans held the lands north of the pass in the first centuries AD. It has been fortified in ancient times by the Romans and Persians. As a result, Darial Gorge has been fortified since at least 150 BC and the ruins of an ancient fortress are still visible. The pass served as a hub point for many roads connecting North and South Caucasus and remained open for traffic for most of its existence. The Georgian military road in its present form was improved at the time of the Caucasian conquest by the Russian empire in 1799 which follows the traditional route used by invaders and traders throughout the ages.

It is a 212 km link between Tbilisi (Georgia) and Vladikavkaz (Russia) along the valley of the Terek via the Jvari Pass at 2,379 meters. On the way we take the time to visit several places of interest : Mskheta located at 15 km of Tbilisi. Mskheta is the former capital of the Georgia kingdom in the 5th century. Located at 15km of Tbilisi, its beautiful 1000 years old cathedral is a very important symbol in the Georgian orthodoxy. According to the legend, the King Vatang Gorgasali from Mskheta was hunting in his territories with his falcon. Once the rapace killed a pheasant which has been found almost cooked in some hot springs. The king then decided to build the main city of the country around this special place. His son moved the capital from Mskheta to Tbilisi. Note that « Tbili » in Georgian language means hot.


Day 3: Vladikavkaz-Nalshik-Balkar Village

Our minibus is waiting for us for a day full of discoveries : We visit the surroundings of Vladikavkaz and Naltchik. We visit also a skilled workman manufacturing by hand some north caucasian saddles and bridles according to the ancient traditions.
At the end of the day, we go to a Balkar village and overnight in a family guesthouse.
The Circassians are a Northwest Caucasian ethnic group native to Circassia, many of whom were displaced in the course of the Russian conquest of the Caucasus in the 19th century, especially after the Russian–Circassian War in 1864. There are riders people. In its narrowest sense, the term "Circassian" includes the twelve Adyghe tribes Abzakh, Besleney, Bzhedug, Hatuqwai, Kabardian, Mamkhegh, Natukhai, Shapsug, Temirgoy, Ubykh, Yegeruqwai, and Zhaney, each one represented by a star on the green-and-gold Circassian flag. However, due to Soviet administrative divisions, Circassians were also designated as the following: Adygeans (Adyghe in Adygea), Cherkessians (Adyghe in Karachay-Cherkessia), Kabardians (Adyghe in Kabardino-Balkaria), and Shapsugians (Adyghe in Krasnodar Krai). Most Circassians are Sunni Muslim but very moderate. The Circassians mainly speak the Circassian language, a Northwest Caucasian language with three main dialects and numerous sub-dialects. Horseback trekking overview : These first 3 days we will be on our way from an old soviet farm where the horses are waiting for us. We ride around 60-70 km per day the first 3 days to reach the camp through beautiful and hilly mountains, villages and then on a high plateau at 3000m where we can see for the first time the Mount Elbruz. The third day we reach through incredible gorge the Kabardines summer camp. From there we ride the next 3 days in a new direction and discover some deep gorges, caves and admire the beautiful Elbrus on the background while 100 Kabardines horses are grazing around you. The last day we are riding down back to the Balkar village where you overnight and enjoy good hot shower


Day 4: Horseback trek : Balkar Village- Xalbaz Village

Let’s start the beautiful ride through the immensity of the northern Caucasus slopes on a majestic Kabardine horses.
Theses horses are incredibly well trained and can cover more than 100km a day. They are quite tall but are very well balanced. They have a quick walk and a confortable gallop. We ride over the first mountains towards Elbrus. The relief is hilly which allows us to trot and gallop sometimes. By the end of the day we reach a karbardin village. We arrived and the camp is already set up close to a river.

Fresh cooking.

Overnight in tent.

Around 7 hours in the saddle.


Day 5: Xalbaz Village-CAMP 1

Today we start riding in the valley and then we spend a long time in crest reaching a high plateau in the second half of the day. The plateau is about 3000m high. The landscapes are simply incredible along some huge cliffs given us an opened wide param on a a lower plateau. During the day, we may meet some shepherds on our way. We trot and canter a bit.

The camp surroundings is amazingly beautiful.

Overnight in tent.

Fresh Adygueen cuisine.

Around 7 hours in the saddle.


Day 6: CAMP 1 - CAMP 2 : SOMMER high mountains pasture

We start riding down to the power plateau, and through gorges which lead us to the kabardine’s sommer camp. The day offers outstanding panorama and if the weather is clear we will admire the snow covered 2 summits of the Elbrus when waking up. Overnight in tent at the horse summer camp. It is a very very simple place with a shepherds hut where we will share our diners with the Adygueens living up there. Around 7 hours in the saddle.


Day 7: Canyon

We ride in some impressive canyons.
Overnight in tent.

Fresh Adygueen cuisine.

Around 7 hours in the saddle.


Day 8: Elbrouz

We start the day riding up. We reach a high plateau. The scenery today offers wild opened landscapes with the high summit background (peaks over 5000m). Trot and canter during the day
We ride back (round trip) to the camp where we spent a nice evening with the Cherkess.

Overnight in tent.

Fresh Adygueen cuisine.

Around 7 hours in the saddle.


Day 9: Caves

The target of the day is to visit some caves reachable only on foot / horseback. They are very wild and known only from the local shepherds. Like everyday we have a lunch on the way. We take some small pathway carved in the mountains. up and downs. At the end of the day we ride back to the sommer camp.

Overnight in tent.

Fresh Adygueen cuisine.

Around 7 hours in the saddle.


Day 10: CAMP 2 - Balkar Village Kendelen

We ride down to the sinuous canyon which leads us to the lowlands. We ride back to the first Balkar village and enjoy at the end of the day great hot showers…

Overnight in a guesthouse.

Balkar homemade cuisine.

Shared bathrooms


Day 11: Kendelen-Nalshik-Vladikavkaz

We go to Naltchik and visit the city. The soviet atmosphere is still in the air, the architecture reminds us the old soviet time. We have a glimpse in the surprising museum, park, market and stroll around to see some interesting buildings. We have a lunch in the city. THen we drive back to Vladikavkaz where the atmosphere is already changing … will understand…the architecture reminds us Georgia.

We overnight in a 3* stars hotel and have a diner in a local restaurant.

We have time again to stroll again around the interesting and charming city.


Day 12: Vladikavkaz-Tbilisi

We drive back to Georgia. We start as early as possible to cross the Russian border. Depending on the time spent at the Russian border we reach Tbilisi between 3 and 4 pm. We go to the guesthouse and leave the luggage. The guesthouse is an ancient traditional Georgian house in Mardjanishvili district. We visit the old Tbilisi and have a diner a restaurant

Overnight in the guesthouse

Shared bathroom


Day 13: Tbilisi

We have free time in Tbilisi till 3pm. A lot of to see and do. Museum, stroll in the cobbled streets, market, exhibition, gallery, churches… We can also book the thermal bath and enjoy the peeling and massages. At 3pm, we meet and visit others places. We have a last diner together and enjoy the Georgian cuisine and wines.

Overnight in the guesthouse

End of the trip


Day 14: Departure DAY

Transfer to the airport.

Flight to Europe