Expedition to "Alter Dagestan": the highest mountain settlement in Europe, the Pabaku pyramid, ghost-auls and the Martian plateau of Yerydag, with the first Dagestani Everest summiter Rashid Gadzhiyasulov


August 3 - 11, 2024

Tour Dagestan, Russia

tour to Dagestan travel in Russia Caucasus ascent of Pabaku Babaku equestrian ascent of Kubachi Burshi tour Yuzhdag Kurush Erydag ascent of Shalbuzdag Bazarduzu Akhty Zrykh Shinaz Una Uhul Verkhnye Filya

We will climb high into the mountains in the village of Burshi and will be taken back to 40 years... We will go on horseback along the most beautiful valley of the Artsalinekh river and reach the Pabaku pyramid. We'll open the ghost auls hidden high in the mountains of Southern Dagestan, standing on the edge of which you feel giddy and loosing your breath!
We will climb to the extreme south of Russia, reach the highest mountain settlement in Europe - Kurush, surrounded by the highest peaks, and go on a journey across the Martian plateau Yerydag.

Forget everything you knew about Dagestan! This is a real journey through time!

The journey to Pabaku takes place in the wonderful company of the first and only Dagestani Everest summiter Rashid Gadzhiyasulov!

We will climb high into the mountains in the village of Burshi and will be taken back to 40 years... We will go on horseback along the most beautiful valley of the Artsalinekh river and reach the Pabaku pyramid. We'll open the ghost auls hidden high in the mountains of Southern Dagestan, standing on the edge of which you feel giddy and loosing your breath!
We will climb to the extreme south of Russia, reach the highest mountain settlement in Europe - Kurush, surrounded by the highest peaks, and go on a journey across the Martian plateau Yerydag.
Forget everything you knew about Dagestan! This is a real journey through time!
The journey to Pabaku takes place in the wonderful company of the first and only Dagestani Everest summiter Rashid Gadzhiyasulov!

©️ MZUNGU EXPEDITIONS / Alexey Kolbov, 2021
Drone pilot and director: Alex Kolbov aka Mzungu


August 3 - 11, 2024 (expedition with the first Dagestani Everest summiter Rashid Gadzhiyasulov)

Duration: 9 days / 8 nights

Number of participants: 6 – 12

Cost per person:
– 105 900 rubles subject to 9 – 12 participants, or
– 110 900 rubles subject to 6 – 8 participants

10% early booking discount (in case you book before April 17, 2024)

Everything is included except for:
- flight to Makhachkala and back,
- medical insurance,

Estimated flight cost Moscow – Makhachkala – Moscow: 17000 – 27000 rubles. To be bought on your own.

Single occupancy: upon request (single occupancy is available upon request in tents and, depending on the number of participants, in some guest houses. Single occupancy is not available at the tourist base)


Day 1. Uytash - Burshi

Arrival in Makhachkala, Uytash airport, no later than 11 am. Meeting with the guides and our friend, the leader of the Pabaku ascension, the first and only Dagestani summiter to Mount Everest, Rashid Gadzhiyasulov.
Transfer by 4WD SUVs to Burshi, Lakskiy district, through Levashi and Kumukh (150 km, 4 hours).
Lunch on the way: traditional Avar cuisine (khinkal or kurze, chudhu).
The last 10 kilometers pass through wild places. Deer, hares, badgers and other wild animals often cross the road here.
Arrival in Burshi - one of the most remote villages in Dagestan, at an altitude of 2300 meters above sea level.
Acquaintance with the village of Burshi, which age is estimated at 2000 years, and today only 5 households live here in winter, officially the population is about 100 inhabitants. Meeting with the local people, native Laks.
Transfer by 4WD SUVs to the tourist base Burshi across the rivers (4 km).
Dinner and overnight in sleeping bags at the Burshi tourist base with accommodation of 2-4 people in each room.

* It is recommended to arrive in Makhachkala no later than 11 am.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation included: Burshi tourist base

Day 2. Burshi tourist base – Pabaku Assault Camp

Morning in the beautiful valley of the Burshi river, surrounded by mountains overgrown with Swiss meadows, grazing cows, sheep and horses.
A stunning view of the Dyultydag mountain range opens up from here.
At breakfast we will discuss our plans for the hike to Mount Pabaku.
For those members of the expedition, who is going to do a horse trek, we will give horse riding lessons.
We hike (lunch en route) southward to the foot of Mount Pabaku. We have to walk about 15 kilometers along the Burshi river, and then its tributary Akulalu, where we ford Akulalu and continue to move in the most beautiful valley of the Artsalinekh river. The mountain river Artsalinekh flows out from under the Dyultydag glacier on the northern slope of the ridge of the same name and originates at an altitude of 3240 meters.
Our hike passes through almost pristine picturesque alpine meadows with flowering slopes and river valleys and the gaping bald pyramid of Pabaku.
The waters of the local rivers are spawning grounds for trout, the fauna is represented by rodents, snakes, hares, foxes, wolves and proudly soaring eagles, as well as, albeit rare, but brown bears and wild boars. The main decorations of the peaks are mountain turs, the population of which is being restored in the last mountains.
Participants of the horse trekking can perform the entire route of this day on horseback.
Having gained about 600 meters in height, we come close to the foot of the mountain, where at an altitude of about 2900 meters above sea level, we set up our assault camp.
Dinner by the fire, we will discuss our ascent plans and early bedtime on the eve of an early storming morning for those who wish to ascent Pabaku (4000 m).
The temperature at night in the assault camp can be about 0 degrees, and at the top it is below zero.
Double accommodation in sleeping bags in tents in the Pabaku assault camp.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation included: in tents at the Pabaku assault camp.

Day 3. Pabaku - Burshi Tourist base

Early in the morning, at about 5 am, we drink tea and take light breakfast with us and set off to storm the summit, under the leadership of Rashid Gadzhiyasulov. Those who do not want to go to one or another height can spend half a day in peace and relaxation in the valley of the Artsalinekh River - one of the most beautiful virgin places in Dagestan. Horseback riding and communication with Laks.
The height of Pabaku was originally 3997 meters. Kind people worked at the top and made a three-meter hill of stones in the center, which made Pabaku a real four-thousander. Despite the relatively low altitude, the summit looks very imposing. Pabaku is one of the most pyramidal peaks in the world, it resembles the Matterhorn very much, and its name translated from Lak means "awl mountain", which speaks for itself.
Climbing takes place in the zone of the Arctic desert, along the crumbling rock, which makes it difficult to climb in some places. At the very top of the mountain there is snow. Climbing does not require crampon and is not extreme, but the last hundred meters we will climb carefully and slowly. Here, in the final stretch, our participants of horseback ascent will have to dismount and continue along with everyone without horses.
Summer is a good time to climb Pabaku, but in winter the mountain has 3rd category of difficulty.
Today we have to climb about 1100 meters heigh, having made a 5-6 hour ascent to the "Dagestan Matterhorn". The descent to the assault camp takes about 2.5 hours.
After lunch in the summiting camp, we continue our return (about 15 km, participants of horseback riding carry out this trek on horseback) to the area of the village of Burshi to the base camp site, where we are getting the cars, dinner and a well-deserved rest.
Campfire gatherings and exchange of impressions.
Night at the tourist base.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation included: Burshi tourist base

Day 4. Burshi - Kubachi

In the morning after breakfast, departure from Burshi and transfer to Kubachi via Shovkra and Urari (95 km, 3.5-4 hours).
The village of Kubachi is located at an altitude of about 1650 meters. Until it was assigned the village status in 2015, it was the only urban settlement in Dagestan located in the mountainous area.
The first acquaintance with Kubachi, meeting with a local guide, a walk around the aul, a master class.
Kubachi is one of the largest traditional centers in the Caucasus for artistic metalworking, as well as stone and wood carving. Since the early Middle Ages, the village of Kubachi was famous for the manufacture of chain mail and weapons, as well as the manufacture of silver items. The current name of the village is of Turkish origin, and before that it was known under the Persian name "Zerikhgeran", which means "chain mail maker". Until now, there is no reliable data when this settlement nevertheless arose, it is only known that the territory of the present Kubachi was part of the long-disappeared Caucasian Albania. The Russian historian Vasily Tatishchev said the following about the Kubachins in the 18th century: "Kubachi is a small people in Dagistan, but very famous for their works, such as guns, cloth, cloaks, gold, silver and iron little things, and through that there are a lot of counterfeit coins of Persian, Turkish and Russian gold and silver occurs."
We will visit the most interesting places in Kubachi, learn about Kubachi towers, which date back to the 13-14 centuries and refer to the period of mountainous Dagestan fortification development, when a gradual process of decreasing the massiveness of defensive structures took place, and the importance of natural protective factors of the landscape increased significantly. Then the watchtowers were erected. One of such towers, well-preserved, is used in Kubachi as a dwelling house.
Acquaintance with artisans, national cuisine and ethno-program, photographing in national clothes.
Dinner and overnight at the guest house.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation included: guest house

Day 5. Kubachi - Kala-Koreish - Verhnie Filya - Akhty - Shinaz

Moving along mountain roads from Kubachi to Kala-Koreish (20 km, 1 hour).
Kala-Koreish ("Black Fortress") - once the medieval capital of a large feudal state, Kaitag utsmiystvo, today is a labyrinth of ancient buildings with terraces descending from the top of the mountain. There is a 9th century mosque, a mausoleum of sheikhs, a caravanserai, and a restored museum.
With the development of lowland Dagestan in the 18th and 19th centuries, the importance of Kala-Koreish began to decline, and under Soviet rule in the 1930s, the last inhabitants were evicted from it. Only the cemetery has survived, which has become a place of pilgrimage.
Transfer to South Dagestan, to the ghost aul of Verkhniye Filya, located high in the mountains above the Samur River (165 km, 4 hours).
Although the height here is a little less than one and a half thousand meters above sea level, the view from the village, from the southern slope of the Samur ridge to the Samur River and the impressive Dividing Range of the Greater Caucasus is truly breathtaking.
We will walk around the village, examine it from the best points and reach the spring, the cold water in which is rich in salts and as good as the famous Evian.
Transfer from Verhnie Filya through the regional centers of Akhty and Rutul to the village of Shinaz (80 km, 2.5 - 3 hours).
Shinaz is one of the ancient Dagestan auls, which in the Middle Ages was famous for its craft, agriculture and cattle breeding. One famous geographer of the 13th century remarked upon Shinaz: "Shinaz is a town in the country of Lakzan, on the edge of a very high mountain. There is no other road to it than along the top of the mountain. Whoever wants to get here takes a stick in his hands and slowly descends, because of the strong wind, so that the wind does not knock him down. "
Overnight at the guest house in the Shinaz village.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation included: local guest house

Day 6. Shinaz - Una - Zrykh waterfall - Akhty - Ukhul

Early in the morning, before breakfast, we can go to the ghost aul of Una, 6 kilometers from Shinaz (less than an hour).
Una is one of the most curious ghost villages in Dagestan. Una was abandoned only in the early 1990s.
In 2013, specialists from the Institute of Archeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences carried out a survey of the abandoned settlement. The main purpose of the survey was to establish the existence of an adit (popularly called "unad cave"), where copper-bearing ore was mined in the Bronze Age. Today it is the only adit known in Dagestan, from where copper-bearing ore was mined. Also, in Una, they examined the ruins of the settlement, the ruins of a fortress located on the top of the hill, the ruins of the fortifications of the fortress and a spiral staircase laid to the fortress, old cemeteries in two places, various grave structures, holy sites with various structures. The age of the Una settlement established by archaeologists on the basis of excavation material is 5000 years BC (!!!)
Return to Shinaz (less than an hour on the way), breakfast. Exploring the village. Today Shinaz is half abandoned, with entire neighborhoods in ruins.
The origin of the Shinaz village is rooted in antiquity. According to some researchers, "Shinaz" is a Persian word meaning "recognizing" (Islamic teaching). The main site of the village is the 11th century mosque, with an equally curious old minaret that you can climb. We will get acquainted with one more of the thirty peoples of Dagestan - the Rutuls. The Rutuls make up the population of Shinaz.
Transfer to Zrykh waterfall (30 km, about 1 hour by car and 1 hour on foot), one of the most picturesque in South Dagestan.
Transfer from Fiy to Akhty and further off-road to the ghost aul Ukhul (45 km), grandiosely located on a ledge above the abyss.
Uhul stands at an altitude of 2350 meters and is the highest settlement in the Akhtyn region. However, since 2010 Uhul has not been inhabited and turned into a ghost aul.
Exploring Uhul, taking pictures.
Overnight at a camping in Uhul.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation included: tents in the campsite

Day 7. Uhul - Akhty - Kurush

A leisure morning in Uhul, taking pictures. Moving (55 km) from Uhul through Akhty to Kurush - the highest mountain settlement in Europe.
On the way to Akhty we will see the old arched bridge and the famous Akhtynskie Bani - hot springs.
Kurush is located at an altitude of 2600 meters above sea level, surrounded by iconic mountains: Shalbuzdag, Yerydag and the snow cap of Bazarduzu, the highest mountain in Dagestan and Azerbaijan. Kurush is located high in the mountains, literally 4 km from the border with Azerbaijan and is the southernmost settlement in Russia.
Evening in the village. We will observe the life of the villagers and the evening milking of sheep.
The population of Kurush, as well as the entire region, is made up of Lezgins - the southernmost people in Russia, also widely represented in Azerbaijan.
The Kurush people were famous for their warriors, who raided the Kaitag utsmiystvo and Northern Azerbaijan. There were dozens of aksakals in the village - respected elders.
Overnight at a guest house.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation included: local guest house

Day 8. Kurush - Yerydag - Kurush

Morning in Kurush, taking pictures. Crossing the Usukhchay river towards the Azerbaijani border.
We climb up Mount Yerydag by car to an altitude of about 3700 meters above sea level. On the way we can meet mountain sheep - turs. Then we have to walk a little more than 200 meters heigh in order to climb the top of the "red mountain" - this is how its name is translated from Lezghin. At the top, the Martian landscapes of the "red planet" await us.
Mount Yerydag with a height of 3925 m is a part of the Dividing Range of the Greater Caucasus.
The 1100-meter sheer wall of the mountain is one of the few in the world. The Russian mountaineering championship is held here. In the summer season, a 200-meter waterfall falls off the cliff.
Return to Kurush. Meeting with aqsaqals such as Suleimani Rzayevich, founder of the Kurush collective farm, Soviet correspondent.
Once with a population of over 2,000, Kurush was one of the most prosperous collective farms in the Soviet Union. 150 thousand heads of ruminants used to be there.
Possible evening photo session in traditional dress with Lezgins overlooking Kurush.
Dinner and overnight at the guest house.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation included: local guest house

Day 9. Kurush - Bazlag Shalbuzdag - Kurush - Uytash

Early in the morning we set off to the foot of Shalbuzdag Mountain (4 km, elevation changes is 600 meters) on horseback (or optionally on foot), accompanied by our horsemen.
There is not much permanent snow on Shalbuzdag, as well as on the mountains of Dagestan in general, and the snow line lies at an altitude of about 3.5 km above sea level. Small rivers, originating on the slopes of Shalbuzdag, flow partly into Samur, partly into its tributaries Akhtychay and Usukhchay. Together with Bazarduzu, Shalbuzdag (4142 m) belongs to the highest mountains of the eastern part of the Caucasus.
Light picnic and tea from a samovar at the foot of the mountain. Descent downhill on horseback (or on foot, 4 km).
Departure to Uytash airport at noon (235 km, 4.5-5 hours).
Late lunch on the way at the Lesnaya Usadba cafe.
Departure home.

* Recommended departure from Makhachkala no earlier than 20:00 p.m.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch.
Accommodation included: no

* The organizer reserves the right to change the order of the program, subject to all activities to be completed. The program is also subject to change based on actual weather / road conditions.



Dagestani mountain climber, summiteer of Elbrus and Kazbek, Khan Tengri and Lenin Peak, first and the only Dagestani who stayed at the top of Everest. True patriot and outstanding person!
Cost includes:

• double accommodation in guest houses / tourist bases / tents
• three meals a day along the route
• drinking water throughout the route
• transport according to the program: 4-wheel drive SUVs (Land Cruiser 100 and similar) with air conditioning and very experienced drivers
• transfers to and from the airport
• all permissions for visiting protected areas, entrance tickets
• all entertainments on the program
• camping equipment: tents, camping mattresses, dishes
• satellite communication
• horse for trekking to Pabaku and Shalbuzdag
• experienced local Russian speaking guides
• alpinist guides
• professional horse breeders
• support of the Russian and English-speaking team leader
• leader of Pabaku climbing – the first Dagestani climber on Everest Rashid Gadzhiyasulov

To be addidionally (personally) paid:

• flight to Makhachkala and back
• medical insurance
• Russian visa (if required)
• Additional services
• Personal expenses, souvenirs, alcohol
• single accommodation

To take with:

• Light clothing sets (shorts, t-shirts, long-sleeved shirts)
• A set of warm clothes: fleece, windproof trousers, windproof storm jacket (there may be cold in the mountains, up to +5C, and below zero temperatures at the tops)
• thermal underwear
• hats for different weather conditions: cap / hat / panama from the sun and a mountain hat with a windstopper for climbing
• fleece gloves with windstopper
• buff
• tracking socks, including warm ones,
• trekking warm shoes for climbing and comfortable light shoes (sneakers) for walking
• at your discretion sleeping bag with a comfort temperature of 0 degrees (at night on Pabaku in a summitting camp it can be around 0)
• swimwear
• raincoat
• Personal hygiene products (towel, soap, wet wipes)
• Personal medicines (including analgesics, antiseptics, antibiotics, medications necessary for you personally, antiviral, intestinal, multivitamins, rehydron, band aid)
• Sun and wind protection products (cream, sunglasses)
• repellents
• large backpack for things,
• small backpack for radial exits (30 – 50 l)
• trekking poles
• head torch
• thermos (optional)
• photo and video equipment, spare batteries, powerbank

      • Яна
        отзыв опубликован на сайте
        Это было удивительное путешествие!
        Удивительный и удивляющий Дагестан: невероятная красота природы разных климатических зон; рельефы, от которых сходит с ума мозг, не готовый к такой красоте; яркие, богатые культурные традиции; и конечно же люди! Искренние, живые, с потрясающим (реально невероятным) чувством юмора и очень, очень любящие землю, на которой они живут.
        Удивительно настоящая принимающая сторона - Махач и Асхаб: после общения с ними меняешь все шаблоны не только про дагестанцев, но и про мужчин вообще:)) С такими парнями можно идти куда угодно и с кем угодно!!! Их гостеприимство - это не просто ломящиеся столы (а такое было!!! До сих пор слышу вкус чуду!), это про настоящую любовь к своим гостям и желание сделать его максимально ярким и комфортным. Такие тёплые, такие классные!! Про юмор - вообще молчу! А ещё - это про искреннее желание показать все лучшее, что есть в Дагестане.
        И конечно, удивительный Mzungu и Алексей! Это про профессионализм, огонь к своему делу и исключительную порядочность! Всегда на связи, своевременное и предвосхищающее информирование. Это редкое, крайне редкое отношение! Спасибо Алексей! Только к таким людям «притягивается» лучшее, из чего складываются удивительно прекрасные путешествия!!
      • Мария Пронская
        отзыв опубликован на Facebook
        Прошла почти неделя как я вернулась с экспедиции в Дагестан, а эмоции, впечатления, волнения живут. Сказать, что понравилось, означает не сказать ничего... Это тот случай, когда реальность многократно превосходит ожидания. Формат путешествия, организация, команда, местные, которые нас так радушно и тепло принимали, готовые предложить самое лучшее, что у них есть... все на уровне, выше которого даже желать невозможно, учитывая вообще все возможности этого края. Местным организаторам отдельное СПАСИБО! Алексей Кольбов, все было Супер, Спасибо за заботу о каждом! Дагестан- это место must visit. И пока его не заполонили туристы всех многочисленных национальностей), обязательно приезжайте! Надеюсь на Дагтрип следующего уровня в след году, как и было обещано;)
      • Dmitriy Shin
        отзыв опубликован на Facebook
        Дагестан! Трип супер! Организация- как всегда, на высоте! Ребятам из Дагестана, огромный респект! Приняли на самом высшем уровне! Природа Дагестана - это отдельный разговор! Ничем не уступает Грузии и даже более разнообразна. Есть и горы,долины, зелёные луга и водопады и горные озера, есть море и пустыня! И все это у нас в России! Однозначно, must see!
      • Денис Миронов
        отзыв опубликован на Facebook
        Крутейшие путешествия в самые красивые места планеты с отличной организацией и в отличной команде.
        Мзунгу - это почти семья ) - семья единомышленников и любителей приключений 👍
      • Ainat Guberman
        отзыв опубликован на сайте
        We just came back from Dagestan and Chechnya. The views were amazing, and the people were warm and welcoming.
        It was amazing to see how different Chechnya and Dagestan are, so don't miss the opportunity to see both of them! Organization was perfect. The car was a comfortable air-conditioned Toyota, and both guide and driver were locals who knew the area, the people and could tell us a lot about their life.
      • Ботвинова Оксана
        отзыв опубликован на сайте
        Период нашего путешествия в Дагестан выпал на карантин и мы уже не надеялись, что получиться осуществить задуманное.
        Спасибо Алексею и принимающей стороне, что нашли возможность перенести сроки и мы всё-таки сделали это :)!
        Отличная организация Алексея, теплый приём Махача и Асхаба, прекрасная команда участников, ну и конечно, потрясающая природа (невозможно поверить, что всё это так близко от нас) и достопримечательности Дагестана сделали это путешествие незабываемым! Это было очень круто!
        Ребята, всем огромное спасибо! Будем очень рады повторить путешествие в том же составе!
        А всю неделю после возвращения в голове крутится уже ставшая любимой песня "И по ночам мне снится, вся красота, что в Дагестане..." :).
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