The coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed the recreation preferences of the Russians. Most borders are closed – at present, the Russians can travel to a little more that dozen countries. That is why the attention of the Russians turned to the domestic tourism. The regions of the North Caucasus were in the list of their preferences.
The resorts of the Krasnodar Territory were not the only ones closest to central Russia and, if I may say so, more ‘extensively advertised’. The attention of most tourists was drawn to the region of the Caucasian Mineral Waters, where a press tour of the federal press journalists organized by the Russian Ministry of Economic Development took place.
Moreover, the travellers ‘turned their attention’ so that, according to Elena Garbuzova, the First Deputy Minister of Tourism and Health Resorts of the Stavropol Territory, “the tourist flow dynamics shows it can be expected that the number of people visiting our resorts from September to the end of 2020 may exceed the figures of 2019.“ At the same time, she emphasized that eight out of ten tourists who spent their vacations in the region come here again - for the second and third time.
It's worth a trip. Do you know that about 200 sources of thermal mineral water are documented in the region, while, for example, in Karlovy Vary there are only about seventy ones? And therefore, it is a pity that not many people in the world know about Kislovodsk or Zheleznovodsk, for example, but everyone knows about Karlovy Vary.
Although, 140,000 people came to Zheleznovodsk last year to improve their health and take a walk along its famous terrain cure paths. Now, of course, less people come, but there are also chances to end the year fairly well. As of today, Yevgeny Moiseyev, the mayor of the city, told the journalists during the press tour, that all health centres, except for corporate ones, reopened in the city, and by the beginning of September, they are expected to be 100% full. At the same time, accommodations suit every taste and budget - from 1,500 to 22,000 roubles per day. There are 22 health and holiday centres in the city and nearby that can accommodate 7,000 people.
As for the famous Kislovodsk, more people come to the town, of course, and the tourism sector authorities expect that by the end of summer, about 30-35 thousand people will enjoy their vacations in the area. There is a magnificent park in the city, and one can taste the famous narzan mineral water not only in the landmark Narzan Gallery where six options are offered (general water, sulfate and dolomite, each can be cold and warm), but also outside.
By the way, Zheleznovodsk and Kislovodsk keep pace with the times while keeping in mind their history. As for Zheleznovodsk, the SmartCity system has been introduced in it, which allows the authorities, for example, to control the level of waste container filling and use the trucks with containers efficiently, and the system also gives the tourists the opportunity to quickly get to know about all the news and functions in the city thanks to a special mobile application and Push-notifications. And in Kislovodsk, vacationers can get a wonderful experience at the visitor centre where they can take part in an interactive tour, which the today’s children really like.
By the way, as for the nature, in the Stavropol Territory, near the village of Podluzhnoe, a specially protected natural area should appear soon; and the villagers themselves proposed to organize it. The thing is that hundreds of vascular plant species grow in this area, most of which are listed in the Red Book.
However, many people go to the Caucasian Mineral Waters area not to get treatment, but to enjoy the natural beauty. And of course, there are sights to behold! At the same time, it is better to choose Nalchik, the capital of the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, as a ‘starting point’. It takes no more than a few hours to get to many locations from Nalchik.
So, what places are worth a trip? For example, the Arkhyz mountain resort. Although, you should know that near the cable way, you will have no place to eat in a high season despite the beautiful hotels and inns looking a bit like chalets in the Alps - even the surroundings look the same. For 700 vacationers, there are only three restaurants and one small grocery store open until 9 p.m. only. It is interesting that the tourist infrastructure is much better in ‘lower’ Arkhyz located 12 kilometres away, from where free shuttles go to the cable way.
The famous Chegem waterfalls are much closer to Nalchik, just 60 kilometres away from the city. Although not every tourist finds these waterfalls amazing, this was a sterling opportunity to watch the numerous water streams flowing from the cliff into the Chegem River. The place suffers from one flaw - the gorge near the waterfalls is very narrow, just several tens of metres, and along the road there is a large and noisy southern bazaar. However, if you want peace and pristine nature, you can rent an off-roader for 4-5 thousand roubles and go 16 kilometres into the mountains to the FlyChegem activity park.
There many more opportunities there! You can enjoy horse riding and driving quadricycles, paragliding and ropejumping into the abyss from a cliff, or you can simply rent a place for your tent in a camping site for 250 roubles per day and breathe the mountain air, admiring the beauty around you.
Another undoubtedly the most important attraction in the Elbrus region is the area crowned by the cap of the long-dormant Elbrus volcano, the highest peak in Europe, 5,642 meters high. Of course, only climbers can get there, but an ordinary tourist can use three lines of a modern cable way - for just 1,400 roubles - that will take the travellers to the Garabashi station at an elevation of 3,847 metres above the sea. By the way, the highest mountain cafe in Europe is here where you can drink excellent mulled wine and enjoy Caucasian cuisine.
At the same time, the Elbrus region is also a specially protected natural area, and in general, about one third of the Kabardino-Balkaria’s area has this status.
Today, traveling to the North Caucasus is quite affordable as the airplane tickets to the Caucasian Mineral Waters or Nalchik cost only a few thousand roubles. At the same time, you can get great lifetime experience.