Spring – New Faces & New Life
At the very beginning of March 2022, when the first sunrays begin to warm the earth and jingling streams run through the narrow streets of mountain villages, we invite you to join our new format Spring journey to the mountains of Dagestan.
At this time of the year you can see and feel everything in a different way. Nature itself is waking up after a long winter sleep. Sheep and goats have offspring, and birds are singing loudly as if welcoming the spring and the arrival of the new life.
The everyday life and traditions of the inhabitants of mountainous Dagestan are very special. They are different from those in big cities. People here greet everyone they meet, their smiles are happy and sincere, and they don’t only welcome travellers but also invite them into their house, to the table, to share a simple meal. During the conversation they try to find out why you have come here from a distant city, what you like here and will remember most of all. And no matter if you are in a real hurry on your "important" tourist business, you won’t be able to leave without a cup of tea or fragrant coffee with dried apricots.
Families are large, not like in our concrete cities. Children help adults, cook and set the table, and when it's time to do some work around the house they take it up without being asked or reminded.
Hard work, kind heart and hospitality – these are probably the three most concise and important words to describe the people and atmosphere of these wonderful places.
We decided to combine landscape, architectural and genre photography with a story about original and rich history of each place where we’re going to travel. Wars with foreign tribes, the 50-year Caucasian war of the mountain peoples with the Russian Empire, the era of the revolution and the construction of a new world – all these and many other historical facts will be the subject of our field lectures and stories where you will find yourself in the very centre of all events with a camera in your hands.
During the six days of the journey, we will visit the most beautiful and most ancient villages of mountainous Dagestan. You will visit the abandoned village of Gamsutl, which became a ghost village about 40 years ago, see the century-old watchtowers of the oldest Avar village of Goor and go inside the houses of local people where we will be surely invited and made to stay for a long time. However, this is not the full program of our new spring trip to the mountains of Dagestan.
We will definitely visit farms where newly born goats and lambs are having fun inside special mangers. A workshop in cuddling and hugging with these cute creatures is included in our plans.
The entire trip will take place in a comfortable format. We will move around in four-wheel-drive SUVs or a minibus, and a cozy guesthouse with double rooms with all conveniences will become our shelter for the time of the program.
All the pictures in the description of the program have been taken by the guide and the author of this route and, if desired, you will be able to take photos on similar locations or make self-portraits in similar settings.
Are you still thinking? Then look at the photos, read the program and try to imagine what awaits you on the route.
Day 0. Meeting of the group in Moscow, check-in at the hotel (//D).
Day 1. Departure to Makhachkala at 8 am. Upon arrival, four-wheel-drive SUVs by which we will move around – three people plus driver in a car – will be waiting for us. We will stop for breakfast in Makhachkala, in the best local cafe where you will be able to taste traditional Caucasian cuisine. Straight after breakfast, we will go to our favorite location, in a mountain village that is real high, more than 1900 meters above the Sulak Canyon. Inspired by the view of the winding canyon, we will return to the hotel. Our dinner will be ready there, with a well-deserved rest after it. (B//D)
Day 2. We will dedicate the morning to one of the most famous mountain villages, Gunib. It was here, in 1859, that the spiritual and military leader of the mountain peoples of the Caucasus, Imam Shamil, was captured, which became a symbol of the end of the war that had lasted for 47 years. We will walk up to the top, to the terrace where the decisive battle took place.
After breakfast, we will travel to a narrow underground canyon, where a stream of water is falling down from somewhere above, through a hole pierced by the water in the rock. After a long walk in the underground maze, we will set off towards the place of our overnight stay which will be on a plateau, overlooking Gunib. The river valley stretching to the left and to the right will let us feel the expanse and the magnitude of the place. It was not for nothing that a great Russian landscape artist Aivazovsky chose this place to paint his masterpiece in 1869. Return to the hotel for dinner.(B//D)
Day 3. We will meet dawn on the observation deck above the ancient agricultural terraces. Here, in the mountains, where every slope used to give life and food to dozens of families and a piece of land could start an internecine war, ancient farmers have been creating artificial terraces for growing wheat and other crops for centuries. Until a few decades ago cereals were sown here. However, civilization is merciless to the labour achievements of the past. Now these terraces are only silent and magnificent keepers of the history of life and hard work of several generations.
After breakfast in a local cafe, we will go for a walk to the mountain village of Chokh. First settlements appeared there more than 10,000 years ago. The village occupied a strategic position on the oldest caravan route connecting mountainous Dagestan with the North Caucasus and the south of Russia. So, its name can be translated as “a campsite” or “a place for overnight stay”.
Warriors from Chokh fearlessly fought with Mongol-Tatars and Nadir Shakh, carried Shamil’s banner high and joined the ranks of the Red Army during the Great Patriotic War. Our detailed story about the history of this ancient settlement and shooting on its narrow streets will keep us busy until noon.
After lunch, we will visit a local resident's house for a genre shoot at sunset and try to interview the host about his childhood in the late 50-s and early 60-s in the village of Gamsutl. The history of this place, of its complicated and tragic fate will be a prelude to our plans for the next day. (B//D)
Day 4. Night ascent to the abandoned village of Gamsutl. We will stay there for the whole morning and the first hours of the new day. The settlement, no less famous than Chokh, mysteriously appeared on a steep cliff more than two thousand years ago. No one knows anything about its origin. Was that first settler seeking solitude under the clouds? Or did the family flee to escape a blood feud? Centuries have kept this secret. The only road leading to the village is more like a trail. And we will slowly walk that way in the dark for a little more than an hour. After the night and morning shooting we will leave for the Karadakh gorge to spend the rest of the day there. (B//D)
Day 5. This day will be dedicated to the life of two free Avar villages, Goor and Kahib. No matter how powerful and cruel the Hunzakh nutsals and khans who besieged Derbent and ravaged the neighboring Georgia were, they could not subdue and bring Avaria to its knees. The Kahibtlar River, like a watershed between life and death, the past and the present, divides the gorge into two halves. There is the village of Bakhdab on the eastern slope, bristling with its battle towers and crouching into the folds of the terrain. Another ghost village on our way. After the war, in the 50-s, village people suffering from rockfalls and landslides began to move to the opposite, calmer bank of the river. A neat school, a library, and children's laughter in the narrow streets of the new Kahib. Nothing seems to remind about the difficult fate of the free Avar settlement. In the evening we will climb up to the top of the mountain, to the towers of the village of Goor. (B//D)
Day 6. Our plunge into history is finished. Slow packing, breakfast, departure to Makhachkala. The group is flying to Moscow. Check-in at a hotel in Moscow.(B//D)
Day 7. Transfer to the airport. The group is returning home. (B//)
Have some questions? You can write to us in WhatsApp or Telegram
We are going to travel on the route only by our rented SUVs. Each car can accommodate three people plus the driver. At the booking stage, we want to make sure that there are at least two people in the group who are ready not only to enjoy the beauty of mountainous Dagestan, but also to drive a SUV along the route.
The cost of the tour includes:
- The domestic flight from Moscow to Makhachkala;
- The rent SUVs and fuel for them;
- All transfers according to the program;
- Guide’s and photo guide’s services;
- Visiting farms of local residents;
- Three photo sessions with local people or families, on three different locations, including authentic accessories;
- A double room in a hotel with all conveniences;
- Meeting and seeing off in Moscow;
- Meal according to the program;
The cost of the tour does not include:
- Flight to Moscow Airport;
- Transfer from the airport at a time different from the program;
- Meals not specified in the program;
- Visa fee;
- Personal payments and expenses;
- Health insurance;
- Alcoholic beverages;
Cost of participation in the program €1900 EUR.
Group 4-8-12 (4 people in a jeep).
A deposit of €1000 EUR will book your place in the program. The second payment of €900 EUR is due by December 15, 2021. For bookings made after December 15, 2021 full participation fee will be charged.
Cancellation and Refund Policy
We strongly recommend to get a trip cancellation insurance after booking your trip. If you cancel and workshop is still filled, we will refund full amount you have paid minus €200USD service charge. If you cancel and the workshop doesn't fill you will be refunded according to the following schedule, based on the full fee of the workshop.
>180 days before the start date of the workshop: full refund minus $200 service charge
>90 days: 75% refund
>60 days: 50% refund
<60 days: no refund
List of photographic equipment for those who want to shoot:
- Long-focus lenses 70-200/100-400;
- Standard zoom 24-70/24-105;
- Wide angle lens 16-35/15-30/14-24;
- Battery capacity for a day of active shooting and memory cards;
Day time +3+5C;
Night time 0-5C;
Professional photographer and guide, mastermind and organizer of a travel project for keen photographers and photo enthusiasts. Works with groups from the USA, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia and other countries.
Travel photographer of the year by the TRIERENBERG SUPER CIRCUIT 19, 21.
Articles and publications in the following magazines: Aeroflot, Aeroflot Premium, Siberia, the Evening Moscow.
Contest-winner and prize-winner of international competitions:
- First place, National Geographic 2017, Night Landscape section;
- First place, National Geographic 2017, Planet Summer Competition;
- First place, 35PhotoAwards, Daytime Landscape section;
- Third place, PSA Arctic Awards, 2016;
- Second place, Epson International Pano Awards, 2017;
- Winner of the RGO international contest "The Most Beautiful Country", in the section “Indigenous Peoples of Russia”, 2018;
- Gold Medal, TRIERENBERG SUPER CIRCUIT, 2019;
- Third place, 35PhotoAwards, 2020, in the section of serial works “Everyday Life of People”.
- Gold Medal, TRIERENBERG SUPER CIRCUIT, 2021;
Have some questions? You can write to us in WhatsApp or Telegram
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