Kabardino-Balkaria is called the pearl of the Caucasus. There is no exaggeration at all. More then that. Everybody who knows our republic not at random, occasionally but directly, even intimately, i.e. through its canyons, mountains, rivers, the highest in Europe peaks, waterfalls, alpine meadows, lakes, fresh mountainous air and its sky, will agree that it is a world masterpiece.
Perhaps, its not correct to compare and rank speaking about Earth landscape creations because every place is a kind of God’s grace. But there is no place like home. And when this home is Kabardino-Balkaria you don’t compare and rank: you are simply delighted.
Let us make a short introduction before starting.
The Caucasus is a vast mountain area consisting of many ranges. It stretches for 1,500 kilometers from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea. The conventional boundary dividing Europe from Asia. Among the mountain ranges practically parallel to one another, the principal one, the axis of the whole Caucasus is the Main Range whose highest peaks reach over 5000 meters. These are: Dykh-Tau, Koshtan-Tau, Shkara and other giants. To the north of the Main Range and in the same direction runs the Bokovoi Range. In the later (at a distance of 10-15 kilometers from the Main) towers the two headed volcano Elbrus. Its western cone is 5,642 meters-the summit of the Caucasus.
Kabadino-Balkaria is situated in the central part of the Great Caucasus and adjoining plain called Kabardinian plain. Its area is 12 470 sq. km. It borders with Osetiya-Alania in the East, Karachay-Cherkess Republic in the West, Stavropol land in the North and Georgia – in the South. The last mentioned is at the same time the state frontier of Russia. Kabardino-Balkaria stretches from east to west for 160 km and from north to east – for 110 km.
Seven highest (above 5000 m) Caucasian peaks from the eight (except Kazbek) are in Kabardino-Balkaria. They are: Elbrus (5642,7 and 5621), Dykh-Tau (5204 and 5180), Koshtan-Tau (5152), Shkhara (5068 and 5057), Djangi-Tau (5058), Pushkin Peak (5100), Mijirgi (5025 m meters high correspondingly). Mountains occupy more than 60 percent of the republic’s territory forming five parallel ranges: Woody, Pasturable, Rocky, Lateral, Main. These ranges, except Main, are cut by seven canyons: Malka (Elbrus north), Baksan (Elbrus south), Chegem (canyon waterfalls), Bezengi (Bezengi camp), Chereck (Blue lakes), Psigansu, Lesken with the rivers from the mountains of the Main and Lateral canyons. These rivers flow into Caspian Sea.
And it is a great view! Every canyon is unique. Rocky, Main and Lateral ranges are considered to be the most picturesque with their cliffs of yellow-pink shades, turbulent rivers, chains of white tops with never melting snow. And of course, we should mention Elbrus – the marvelous giant with its two summits, the highest mountain in Europe. It is really beyond any comparison. It is even above imagination.
Beautiful as the mountains may be, there is not only the beauty but also a danger of snow slides and avalanches, and a very severe climate. That is why the people who reside here are hardened by life and are always ready to help. And if you come here, warm recollections of the wild natural beauty will not out – do the sweet memories of reliable friends.
Mountains, romance, fancy – those are notions, which are very close to each other. Those who don’t know it will not understand the people who come from faraway places only to stroll in the mountains, to climb the mountain tops sharpened by the wind or ski down at a terrifying speed on the verge of a precipice.
Love for mountains is a noble disease. It is delighting when risking your life, clinging to every jut, you get to the top and proudly look around at the panorama lying underneath and recollect Pushkin’s poetry:
The Caucasus is under. And I am above it.
I dominate snow and glaciers and streams:
The browsing eagle, my equal he seems,
Floats motionless round the summit.
From here I watch the beginning of flows
The first avalanche and the slide of the snows.
The cloud moves peacefully, heavy with rain;
The waterfalls cut them, quick in their flight;
And rocks outstretched their powerful might;
Despising the moth and the bush of the plain.
A. S. Pushkin.
“Caucasus” – 1829 year
So we begin our journey. Enjoy it! You are welcome!