Opening Your Eyes

Waters of Eden – Backpacking in the Caucasus

waters of eden lake
This area of Russia is considered a paradise on earth. This Adventure offers a chance to explore the beautiful mountain scenery and river valleys while hiking and camping. We offer three routes found below – “The Complete Tour” for the opitmal experience needed to explore the beautiful Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria; “The Cherek and Chegem” and “The Tizil Valley” routes which both offer variations of the complete tour.

Each day and activity is handpicked based on our close partnerships with our local friends to maximize your adventure. Your immersion in culture and the natural beauty of the Caucasus will leave you with truly unforgettable memories. The locals you meet and the friends or family you travel with will naturally create unique experiences for each group. We’re absolutely delighted to put together such tours and to also partake in these adventures with each group. Welcome to Eco-Tourism in the Caucasus!

 

 

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‘The drive into Upper Balkaria gradually developed in me a sense of wonder, and then, all of a sudden, the moments became surreal. Vast landscapes teeming with majestic mountains silhouetted against the setting sun. The car slowly turns a corner and as the world opens up before your eyes, you begin to see and believe in something greater.

 

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We would call Hotel Tay-El our home for the coming days. Imagine a rustic mountain-cabin nestled in between great rocks jutting out from either side. It was an honor to be amongst such beauty. Our first day was spent exploring the ruins of a 17th century village. We trekked up a steep ascent and traversed the arching hills, making our way to an ancient Balkarian home. Once inside the remaining cobblestone walls, the home seemed to be given life. The walls were once protection, security. The doorway was once concealment from uncertainty and a pathway to freedom.

 

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Mohadin, a local native of the village, took us to several sites of interest, bringing new meaning to each one. Hearing old stories from men to whom the tales were all too familiar created a greater respect in me for what I was hearing. The people of Upper Balkaria have a passion for their heritage, and what a joy it is for them to share a large piece of their identity with everyone they encounter. The village offered more than enough to experience. On our last night in the hotel, several men from the community joined us for dinner. What better way to interact with another culture than at a common table?

 

I was rather intrigued by the Balkarian customs surrounding a meal. As the men entered the room, we were invited to stand and greet them. Respect seems to be synonymous with love amongst the Balkarian people. We patiently waited for the elder men to be served before we could fill our plates and stomachs with the incredible food that seemed to flow constantly from the hotel kitchen. Toasts were given, stomachs were filled, and happiness permeated every corner of the room as two worlds collided ever so gently into one.

 

local meal with balkars

 

The following days were filled with camping in varied settings. On Day One, we parked the cars, threw on our gear, and made our way across a river valley. The rolling, green hills seemed to have no bounds. Hidden about 70 meters from our campsite, a cave was waiting to be explored. We set our packs down, strapped on our headlamps and entered into the unknown. The night was spent around a bonfire, where we all shared stories and hot chocolate. At this point, one might think that the landscape would become less astonishing. That couldn’t be further from the truth on this tour. Each mountain was unique and miraculous, not one the same as another. The next night, we made camp on the shore of a turquoise lake which was surrounded by a fence of mountain ranges. The landscape alone was enough to win me over, but, as if on cue, there was more.

 

El-Tebu is one of Kabardino-Balkaria’s smallest villages. Around 50 families call this quaint, yet grand place their home. We entered the village and were immediately welcomed by several locals. One of the men who greeted us was Marat. About five years before, Marat had created a paragliding mecca right outside the village. When we arrived, he welcomed us in with tea and sweets. Spending time with the locals always turned into conversation with tea, coffee or both.

 

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Within 24 hours, I was being harnessed in and prepped to paraglide. The wind grabbed hold of our chute and off we went. The homes along El-Tebu streets became miniscule and the sky became home for what will always be one of the most memorable experiences of my life. Eagles soared below my feet, mountains looked up to the red and blue chute, and time ceased to exist.

 

The final stretch of this unforgettable tour was spent on our feet, finding refuge and wonder within landscapes once unknown to our eyes. Pictures can do their part, but there is nothing like actually being there and trekking across picture-perfect landscapes. I feel more than privileged to have been a part of such a unique and impressive tour. Landscapes, culture and companionship has become for me gifts to embrace and adventures to share.”

 

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– Alex, Birmingham, Alabama, USA

 


 

Waters of Eden – The Complete Tour

(Available June 15 through September 15 = 13 days/ 13 nights)

 

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Night 1 (Thursday recommended) Evening arrival to MinVody, transfer to Upper Balkaria accommodations
Day 1 (Friday) Visit ancient ruins, dinner with cultural exchange#1
Day 2 (Saturday) Tunnel walk, warm springs, Blue Lakes (Nalchik Accommodations)
Day 3 (Sunday) Visit Nalchik park
Leave for Lechinkai zip-lining (overnight at Lechinkai)
Day 4 (Monday) Caving, lunch/cultural exchange #2, Chegem falls (overnight at paradrome)
Day 5 (Tuesday) Paragliding, ancient tombs, cultural exchange #3 (overnight at paradrome)
Day 6 (Wednesday) Greek steps, Bylym pass to Kendelen (overnight in Kendelen)
Day 7 (Thursday) Short trek to grotto waterfall, cultural exchange #4 (Kendelen accommodations)
Day 8 (Friday) Mountain lakes, start long trek (camp near old Sunny mining village)
Day 9 (Saturday) Trek to Kinzhal overlook of Mt. Elbrus (camp near overlook)
Day 10 (Sunday) Trek to Gedmysh waterfall (camp near the falls)
Day 11 (Monday) Trek to Valley of Springs, cultural exchange #5 (overnight near springs)
Day 12 (Tuesday) Drive to Dzhily-Su, trek waterfalls near Mt. Elbrus (overnight near springs)
Day 13 (Wednesday) Drive to Kislovodsk city center, evening departure from MinVody airport

 

Pricing Structure 3-6 Passengers 7-14 Passengers 15+ Passengers
Standard $2,325/person $2,090/person $1,860/person

 

Not Included:

RU Visa & Processing     $430/tourist
Travel Insurance              $30 ($3/day)
Round-trip Airfare          $1,600
Not Included Cost           $2,060
15+ Pax. Tour Cost          $1,860
Estimated Total Cost      $3,920

 

Overall hiking difficulty level – Very Difficult (hiking difficulty calculator)
 

* Except for travel days, meals and unlimited water are included in the expense of this tour package

** Tips are expected for guides and translators (represents additional expense to tourists – approximately $10/day)

*** Tips for drivers and servers are appropriate according to the quality of service provided

 


 

Waters of Eden – Cherek and Chegem Valley

(Available June 15 through September 15 = 7 days/ 7 nights)

 

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Night 1 (Thursday recommended) Evening arrival to MinVody, transfer to Upper Balkaria accommodations
Day 1 (Friday) Visit ancient ruins, cultural exchange #1, (Upper Balkaria accommodations)
Day 2 (Saturday) Tunnel walk, warm springs and Blue Lakes (Nalchik accommodations)
Day 3 (Sunday) Visit Nalchik’s park, leave for Lechinkai zip-lining (overnight at Lechinkai)
Day 4 (Monday) Caving, lunch/cultural exchange #2, Chegem falls (overnight at paradrome)
Day 5 (Tuesday) Paragliding, ancient tombs, cultural exchange #3 (overnight at paradrome)
Day 6 (Wednesday) Greek steps, Bylym pass, cultural exchange #4 (overnight in Kendelen)
Day 7 (Thursday) Gondola up Mt. Elbrus, evening departure from MinVody airport

 

Pricing Structure 3-6 Passengers 7-14 Passengers 15+ Passengers
Standard $1,325/person $1,190/person $1,060/person

 

Not Included:

RU Visa & Processing     $430/tourist
Travel Insurance              $30 ($3/day)
Round-trip Airfare          $1,600
Not Included Cost           $2,060
15+ Pax. Tour Cost          $1,060
Estimated Total Cost      $3,120

 

Overall hiking level of difficulty – Easy to Moderate (hiking difficulty calculator)

 

* Except for travel days, meals and unlimited water are included in the expense of this tour package

** Tips are expected for guides and translators (represents additional expense to tourists – approximately $10/day)

*** Tips for drivers and servers are appropriate according to the quality of service provided

 


 

Waters of Eden – Tizil Valley and Westward

(Available June 15 through September 15 = 7 days/ 7 nights)

 

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Night 1 (Thursday recommended) Evening arrival to MinVody airport/transfer (Kendelen accommodations)
Day 1 (Friday) Short trek to grotto waterfall, cultural exchange ##1
Day 2 (Saturday) Mountain lakes, start long trek (camp near old Sunny mining village)
Day 3 (Sunday) Trek to Kinzhal overlook of Mt. Elbrus (camp near overlook)
Day 4 (Monday) Trek to Gedmysh waterfall (camp near the falls)
Day 5 (Tuesday) Trek to Valley of Springs, cultural exchange #2 (overnight near springs)
Day 6 (Wednesday) Drive to Dzhily-su, trek waterfalls near Mt. Elbrus (overnight near Dzhily-su)
Day 7 (Thursday) Drive to Kislovodsk city center, evening departure from MinVody airport

 

Pricing Structure 3-6 Passengers 7-14 Passengers 15+ Passengers
Standard $1,325/person $1,190/person $1,060/person

 

 

Not Included:

RU Visa & Processing     $430/tourist
Travel Insurance              $30 ($3/day)
Round-trip Airfare          $1,600
Not Included Cost           $2,060
15+ Pax. Tour Cost          $1,060
Estimated Total Cost      $3,120

 

Overall hiking level of difficulty – Very Difficult (hiking difficulty calculator)

 

* Except for travel days, meals and unlimited water are included in the expense of this tour package

** Tips are expected for guides and translators (represents additional expense to tourists – approximately $10/day)

*** Tips for drivers and servers are appropriate according to the quality of service provided

 

Reserve a Tour Now

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Contact us and request information on our Waters of Eden Adventure.

 


 

Adventure Training Videos

 

Visit any link below to watch and learn various aspects of any of our multi-day tours.

 

What to Expect – The Basics

Security and Travel Safety

North Caucasus Weather

North Caucasus Cultural Introduction

Intercultural Competency


 

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