**Makhachkala - Dubki - Gimry - Tsalkita - Hunzah - Khebda - Karadakh - Gunib - Gamsutl - Silta - Derbent - Kaspiysk** In this trip you will see the whole of Dagestan: from mountains to sea, from plateau to dens, from ancient auls to modern hotels, you will get acquainted with local cuisine and mountain hospitality. **Itinerary features: ** - Many picturesque locations and points for photo shoots; - Several hikes lasting from 2 to 4 hours; - There are mountain serpentines along the route. **Recommendations:** - Make sure the gas tank is not empty: there are few gas stations in the mountainous area. - Good cafes are found in towns, so it is worth taking snacks and water with you. - Weather in the mountains can be unpredictable, so gather a diverse closet, and do not forget about comfortable shoes. - Communications in the mountains do not work, download an offline map beforehand, so you can always be easy to navigate. - In fall, winter, and early spring it gets dark early (around 5 p.m.), so it's best to leave early to make sure you have time for everything. **Please note, hotels must be booked independently and better in advance!
You will start your journey from the road to the Khunzakh plateau, to the picturesque waterfalls Tobot that tumble down to the depth of Tsolotka canyon. The road will not make you bored: today you will climb the biggest barkhan in Europe, drink coffee on the bank of a deep canyon, see the biggest hydroelectric power station in the North Caucasus (and believe me, it's just huge!). In general, the day will not seem boring for sure!
Your way goes past the Sarykum barkhan, a rather unexpected sight in Dagestan. The exit from the highway is 5 km one way on a well-paved dirt road. This is one of the largest sand dunes in Eurasia (262 m high) and the hottest place in Dagestan. It's good to get here in the morning. One can walk along the barkhan only along a special ecological path. At the very top there is an observation platform. This is where "The White Sun of the Desert" was filmed.
It is impossible to pass by the Sulak Canyon, the most famous sight in Dagestan. This is the deepest canyon in Europe, surpassing, among others, the American Grand Canyon. In general, it is absolutely impossible to visit Dagestan without visiting the canyon. There are cafes and coffee shops at the observation point (it is better to have lunch there as well), shops and an info-center. You can limit yourself to taking a photo from the equipped observation platform, or you can stroll along the canyon along the trampled paths in search of more diverse views for selfies.
The most powerful hydroelectric power plant in the North Caucasus. Unfortunately, you can only look at it from the outside. The dam itself will not be accessible, as there is a special security regime at the site.
Your next stop on today's long journey will be the Irgunay hydropower plant. Far from being as spectacular as the previous one, but still worthy of attention. You can climb the observation tower for free and stretch your legs at the same time.
The Tsolotla Canyon splits the Khunzakh Plateau and waterfalls rush down from the rocky strata deep into it. Take your time, sit on the edge of the abyss (not on the very edge, be careful), take a picture against the background of the jagged edges of the gorge and the snowy mountains in the distance, think about the eternal. Viewpoints along the edge of the canyon are numerous, with coordinates for some of them: 42.552674, 46.717501; 42.553494, 46.721664; 42.554900, 46.719865. If it's suddenly dark, continue in the morning. You will spend tonight on the Hunzah Plateau.
For dinner go to cafe Godekan. Here they make lagman, mountain soup, lula, as well as European dishes.
Tonight you will spend the night at the canyon. This is an opportunity to see the waterfalls at dawn, weather permitting, and with enough enthusiasm to wake up early in the morning. The Canyon Hostel is quite the place. Choose a double room for maximum comfort. [Hostel website](https://www.instagram.com/khostel_khunzakh2020/) Phone: 89883099849.
Today there are several short walks through plateaus, caves and ancient auls, waterfalls (though depending on season they may dry up or get frozen), lunch on the lake and a lot of very picturesque roads.
After breakfast, get in the car and drive out to Matlas Plateau. The viewpoint is a tentative spot, where you'll park. From there you should walk along the plateau admiring the views, then go down the path between the rocks and walk along the edge of the gorge.
Don't miss Khan Falls, then walk to the viewpoint on the opposite side of the plateau and Matlas Falls.
The Matlas Stone Bowls are narrow gorges in the rocks, a bit like caves without a "roof". It is only possible to get inside on foot from the car park (or rather, from the serpentine bend where everyone leaves their cars), it takes about 10 minutes to walk to the bowls. It is cool inside the bowls, take a sweatshirt or windbreaker with you even on a hot day.
The Mochokh Lake is picturesque in itself, and you can also have lunch on its shores at the cafe "Pearl of Mochokh". Avar hinkal or chudu with cottage cheese, pumpkin or potatoes are excellent options for local dishes after a walk on the plateau and in the bowls. It's best to order lunch in advance so that everything is ready for you when you arrive. There are many wonders and a long drive ahead. [Site of the cafe]( https://www.instagram.com/zhemchuzhina_mochokh/) Tel. 8 (906) 482-27-88.
To get to Goor, you will have to return to Khunzakh and drive along an incredibly scenic (but also steep!) serpentine road to Zaib. Further on, the road will go along the Avar Koisu. There were about 17 towers in Goora some time ago, now there are only two of them left, but what towers they are! And on the background of what mountains! Here you can find "Dagestan troll tongue" - a stone stiffened over the precipice, on which such emotional photos are taken.
Park in the new village of Kahib and go down to the bridge over the Kahibtlar river. On the opposite side of the gorge you will see the ancient village of Old Kahib. Be sure to climb the watchtower (it's free). New Kahib, by the way, is not so new either, but very authentic: cozy courtyards, painted doors, haylofts and firewood stocked on the second floors of houses. Don't be lazy to stroll along its streets on your way back. This is real mountainous rural Dagestan.
Book an overnight stay in a guest house, you can have a delicious dinner there too. The main thing is to agree in advance with the hosts by phone. +7 (917) 000-22-11
Another day full of vivid pictures and visual images awaits you: a walk along Karadakh gorge, which is usually compared with Antelope canyon, ascent to ancient aul Gamsutl located on the mountain top, man-made terraces at the approaches to Chokh village and evening on Gunib plateau.
Cars are all parked right along the road, there is enough space for everyone. The passage to the gorge goes along the bed of the mountain river. It is a pleasant walk among picturesque rocks, which gradually narrow. Finally they form a narrow canyon with steep walls. In the middle of the day the bright sunlight penetrates here and adds bright colours. After sunset, do not go into the canyon: it can be dangerous to jump on the rocks in the dark.
The road after Karadakh gorge becomes a steep serpentine: very beautiful, but you should drive carefully. Especially after or during rain: the serpentine is not asphalt, it is a country road which can be slippery, so take your time! In the "Ethnodome" of the Chokh village you can: first, have a good lunch (order in advance), second, arrange a tour around the village, third, have a rest. [Website of Ethnodom](https://www.instagram.com/ethnodom/) Tel: +7 980 888-05-05.
In the vicinity of Chokh village you will see terraces reminiscent of the rice terraces in Southeast Asia. By the way, the Chokh settlement is one of the oldest in the North Caucasus. The Great Silk Road passed through Chokh. There is also a gilded bust of Stalin at the exit. Chokh looks the most picturesque from outside: ancient stone buildings, arches and columns seem gigantic. It's interesting to walk through the streets of Chokh (though it's a bit muddy).
Gamsutl is an abandoned ghost aul, perched atop a mountain. Eagles fly over it, and tourists roam among the ruins. If you have a passenger car, park it under the mountain (conditional parking coordinates: 42.304496, 47.010180) and walk up the trail (about 2 hours). If you have an SUV, you can drive to about this point: 42.306845, 47.003548. You can also get a lift by UAZ (about 1000 rubles per person). You can also arrange a ride up to the top on horseback. Take drinking water with you.
It's getting dark, time to go to the place of spending the night in Gunib. "It is better to book the Eagle's Nest in advance. For a mountainous Dagestan this is an excellent hotel with standard and deluxe rooms. There is also a separate cottage for 6 persons. You can also have dinner here in a restaurant. [Booking on the website](http://turcomplex.ru/) Phone for booking (WhatsApp is available): +7 (964)-012-51-15.
Today you will leave mountainous Dagestan for the sea. It doesn't mean that we haven't prepared any bright "chips" for you for today. It's too early to have a rest! You will start the day with the view beloved by Aivazovsky, walk along the canyon to Salta waterfall, get to the Caspian coast and finish the route in Derbent, one of the most ancient cities of the world.
After breakfast at the hotel, drive up the serpentine towards the village of Keger. At the very top of the serpentine there is an observation point. This is exactly the view Aivazovsky painted in his painting "Aul Gunib in Dagestan". The view is meditative, especially when the weather is good. Advice: if you have a thermos flask with you, fill it with coffee while having breakfast. Then you will be able to admire the view, sitting on a bench and drinking coffee.
The parking lot (trailhead coordinates: 42.393181, 47.068842) is always full of cars, and there are signs. Saltinskiy is not the waterfall that many people are used to seeing. There is very little water here, which does not prevent the gorge from surprising you with its shapes, ledges, transitions and tiers. The walk is easy and does not take long. On your way back you can take a seat and drink tea in one of the local cafes. Or rather, it's not even a cafe, but tables with teapots.
The road to Derbent will be long and often not very interesting. The road along the Caspian Sea is lively, and overtaking here is customary briskly, regardless of traffic signs. In general, the first thing you will want to do in this ancient city of Derbent is have a bite to eat. Stop by "U Fountain" cafe, there are excellent shashlik and barbeque fish. It's best to book a table in advance, perhaps and make an order so that everything is ready right when you arrive. Working hours: 10 a.m.-23 p.m. Tel: 8 (928) 599-22-58.
With renewed vigor you can rush to explore the sights of Dagestan. Naryn-Kala Fortress is an ancient citadel, a part of Derbent Fortress, connected to the Caspian Sea by double walls, designed to close the so-called Caspian Gate to the Persian Power. This fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Entrance: 250 rubles. Working hours: 09:00-18:00 (it's necessary to enter before 18:00, it's possible to walk inside for longer).
Juma Mosque (the oldest in Russia, VIII century) is the center of the old Derbent, founded in 438 as a Persian fortress. In addition to it, historical magals (districts), city walls, men's, women's and maiden's baths, and the sacred cemetery Kyrhlyar with the mausoleum of Tuti-Bike have been preserved. Go down to the old town by the stairs from Naryn-Kala.
"Scarlet Sails is not just a restaurant, it's also a great hotel. First of all, you come here to settle in for the night and rest, and then to have dinner. The local restaurant is of a completely different level than the meals at the guest houses. Restaurant and hotel Scarlet Sails stands directly on the first line of a sandy beach. If the weather permits, run for a swim before dinner! [Booking on site](http://www.scarletsails-derbent.ru/ru) Tel: +7 (928) 832-0803.
Gentle sea, soft sand. All this awaits you, if the season allows. If not, a cozy hotel and a delicious breakfast, as well as the opportunity to have a great sleep under the noise of the waves. If you didn't manage to walk around Derbent the day before, you can instead of relaxing on the beach go to explore the streets of ancient Derbent.
We suggest getting the most out of this morning. Get a good night's sleep, have breakfast at the hotel restaurant and head to the beach. Sit on the sand, walk along the surf line, swim, bask in the sun. The main thing is to relax after a busy schedule and full of objects of the trip. If the weather doesn't permit, spend a quiet morning in a cozy room with a view of the sea, wrapped in a white terry robe.
Literally a block away from Scarlet Sails is the Derbent Sparkling Wine Factory. A great place to buy souvenirs to take home!
For lunch, stop at a seaside restaurant and try out all the local dishes you haven't yet had the chance to experience!
The Lun rocket ship, aka Caspian Monster, is available for viewing on the sandy beach near Manasquent. Admission is free, no climbing on the wings is allowed. Even if you're not much of a fan of such attractions, "The Moon" is worth a short visit. It's huge! And, in fact, the only one in the world.