30 main places of interest in Dombai
The resort village Dombai is located in the Republic of Karachay-Cherkessia, near the borders of the Teberda State Reserve. Nature has collected a huge number of amazing places in this area: snow-covered mountain peaks, gorges with hundreds of waterfalls, clear rivers and lakes fed by ancient glaciers. The highest peak is Dombai-Ulgen, and the largest and most famous glacier is Alibek.
Dombai is most widely known as a popular place for winter recreation. However, those who want to see all the natural beauty should come here in summer. Hiking through the gorges Alibek, Amanaus, Gonchakhir and Dombai-Ulgen, along the narrow paths among the alpine meadows will lead you to unforgettable places. You can’t leave Dombaj without seeing Russian glade, Baduksky lakes and Chertova Melnitsa waterfall, without passing the route along the slopes of Semenov-Bashi.
The most interesting and beautiful places of Dombaj
List, pictures, names and descriptions of the best places of interest
Dombay ski resort
The popular resort is located in a protected area, on a large glade in which three mountain gorges converge. The tourist complex is all-season; in warm seasons hiking, mountain climbing, horseback riding, paragliding and rafting are popular here. Ski season lasts from December to April, the total length of trails is 20 km, a large network of elevators of various types. The resort hotels have everything for a comfortable stay, restaurants and cafes, saunas and pools, clubs and bars.
Mount Mussa Achitara
The ascent to this mountain is considered a must for any visit to Dombai. When the weather is good, you can admire Elbrus and the views of the Caucasus Range from its summit. And if it’s cloudy outside you’ll have a walk in the clouds. You can climb the mountain both on foot and on elevators. Tour guides can tell you a lot of fascinating stories about the surrounding peaks and gorges. The mountain is 3,012 meters high. At the top, even in summer, the snow does not melt, there is a cafe and the top station of the cable car.
A large network of elevators covers the slopes of the resort. Maximum lifting height is 3,168 meters. The first two stages of the old ropeways are single-chair elevators, from the third to the fifth stage – double-chair. The fifth stage duplicates “Jugoslavka”, stopping 20 meters below the upper station of the RAC. The new complex consists of three stages: the first is of gondola type, the second and third are chairlifts. Pendulum road with cars with 35 seats rises from the village to the top of the Musa-Achitar.
The route along the gorge is the most popular route in Dombai, the full length is 20 km, up to the Alibeksky waterfall – 13 km. At the very beginning of the route there is a cemetery of mountaineers, then a waterfall, a glacier and Turye lake. The way lies along the beautiful places and it is not difficult to pass it. Entrance through the checkpoint of the reserve with a passport, the territory borders with Abkhazia. You can get to Alibek alpine camp by jeep.
One of the most powerful waterfalls in Dombai, formed by the Dzhalovchatka river falling from the rocky slopes. The rocks are rounded, they are called “ram’s foreheads”. The river originates from a glacier. It is located 2 km from the alpinist camp “Alibek” and 5 km from the village. About 90 years ago there was no waterfall, there was a glacier here. The height of the water fall is 25 meters. From the top of the waterfall, you can see the whole Alibek Gorge.
The most accessible glacier of the Caucasus Mountains, located at the end of the Alibek Gorge, 8 km from the village. The way to the glacier is not included in the official tourist routes, as it goes through the border area. It is gradually melting, retreating 8 meters per year. As a result of melting, the waterfall and Lake Turya were formed. The view of the glacier with ice grottoes and caves is really impressive, its area is about 900 hectares.
Moraine lake, formed by melting glacier, is filled with clear icy water of blue color and surrounded by rocks. It gets its name from the fact that aurochs and chamois come down here to drink water, it is said that you can see them at dawn. Located 8 km from the village, the way is not difficult, but at the end you must wade across the mountain river, because the bridges were destroyed. There is an unofficial route through the glacier.
Three mountain lakes are located at an altitude of 2,000 meters and the Baduk River flows through them. To get here, you must overcome about 4 km on foot through protected forests and stone kurumnik. The first lake is the smallest, and there is a trail from there to the second lake. Here on the shore you can settle in a gazebo for a picnic. The third lake is the largest. The water in the lakes is transparent, even in summer it does not get warmer than 5 0 C. After 4 km higher by a more difficult path you can reach another lake on the river.
The mountain peak is 3,681 meters high. The name translates as “mountain with mottled stripes”, due to the white quartz protrusions on the slopes. A little east of the main height is the second peak, Little Belalakaya. The mountain is often compared to the alpine Matterhorn, and it is visible from any point of Dombai. For those who want to conquer the top organized climbing routes with experienced instructors.
Graveyard of mountaineers
Memorial cemetery is situated about 3 km from the village, at the beginning of Alibek gorge. Mountain-climbers, who conquered the summits of Dombai, are buried there, and also there are memorials to those, who never returned from the mountains. The memorials have dates from 1960 to 2003. The names and memorial inscriptions can tell a lot about the history of these places. The stone slabs blend in with the surrounding landscape, in summer crocuses and rhododendrons bloom here.
Amanaus river runs at the bottom of the gorge, and it is situated to the south of Dombai glade, in the direction of the Abkhazian border. There is a route to Sofrudjin waterfalls. The name is translated as “malicious mouth”, the gorge is quite narrow, in some places the rocks converge up to one meter. It is called a museum in the open air, there are many natural minerals. From all sides, streams and creeks flow down on the rocks, forming small waterfalls, the largest waterfall of the gorge is the Devil’s Mill.
Three large waterfalls are located in the valley of the Amanaus River. The first, the smallest, is 60 meters high. The second one is very powerful, rushing down from a height of 250 meters and forming many splashes. The third waterfall is further down the valley, there is no trail to it, and it is less visited by tourists. The water flows start from the Sofruju glaciers. The long and difficult way to these places is justified by unforgettable views.
Devil’s Mill Canyon and Waterfall
The Devil’s Mill Canyon and waterfall of the same name are in the Amanaus valley, an hour’s walk from Dombai village center. The river foams at the bottom of a narrow gorge, squeezed by high rocks. The waterfall lives up to its name, powerful streams grind with tremendous force, twisting into whirlpools. You can see it only after climbing up, the site is not fenced and quite dangerous. But the breathtaking views are worth it.
The summit of Sufrujou Tooth
This peak is clearly visible from the village and from the slopes of Mussa Achitar. Surfuju Mountain is divided into two peaks by a canyon, the southern one is called Surfuju Tooth, or Tiger’s Fang. It is 3,600 meters high. The Jessar Pass connects it and the summit of Zadnaya Belalakaya with huge glaciers. From the top there is a view of ram foreheads, polished Amnauz glacier, as well as Surfujinsky icefall, sliding ice blocks.
The gorge is considered the sunniest place of Dombai, the eco-route to Russkaya Polyana and Chuchhursky waterfalls passes through it. It is considered one of the easiest to master, but at the same time the most beautiful. There are views of the picturesque surroundings. On the left towers the Musa-Achitar ridge, stretched ropeways. On the right is the Main Caucasian Ridge and Dzhuguturlyuchat, covered in glaciers.
The highest mountain in the Western Caucasus, its height is 4,046 meters. It is located east of Dombai village, on the Abkhazian border, and has three peaks, about equal in level. The name is translated as “the place where bison died,” these animals used to live in these places. The peaks are covered with eternal snow. To the north of the main height there is a depression, the Dombai Saddle, from which the routes of ascent run. Their complexity is high, from 3 to 5 points.
The Dzhuguturluchat mountain and glacier.
One of the massifs of the Main Caucasus Range, has a height of 3,921 meters. Its name means “aurochs pasture,” these red-listed animals can still be found here. An extensive glacier, rugged with cracks, gives rise to a powerful waterfall, which flows down to the Russian glade. The best views of the mountain are from the Mussa Achitar observation deck.
The water stream with height of 20 meters flows down from the glacier with the same name and falls into the river Dombaj-Ulgen. It is located at the altitude of 2 500 – 2 800 meters and is well seen from many places. The sight does not require to overcome difficult routes for the survey, the views of the waterfall can be opened from the cable car seats and viewing platform Mussa-Achitar, as well as from the cafes on the slopes.
Real subalpine meadows are located at the foot of Dzhuguturluchat. The glade, surrounded by the panorama of the Dombai mountains, is named after the Russian geologists, who first camped there in the 19th century. There are a lot of animals and birds here, in periods when there are no tourists, roe deer and aurochs descend from the mountains. In the spring and summer, clean mountain air is complemented by the aromas of blooming herbs. From here you can clearly see the highest peaks, the river Dombai-Ulgen. Through the glade lies the way to the Chuchur waterfalls.
The pointed snow-white peak is considered one of the iconic places in Dombai and its main decoration, it rises next to the Dzhuguturluchat massif. The height is 3,455 meters, the slopes are almost completely bare, steep cliffs, with a non-melting snow cap. The best views open up in sunny weather, from the cable car and the slopes of Mussa Achitar. Climbing the peak is very dangerous, but the number of those wishing to conquer it does not decrease. The name is translated as “Needle”.
The Chuchhur River, flowing down rocky slopes to Russian Glade, joins the Dombai-Ulgen River. On its way it forms two beautiful cascades of waterfalls surrounded by dense forest. The way to the first cascade is not complicated, the second will have to overcome a difficult route: 300 meters up the mountain path. Above there are beautiful views of the Dombai-Ulgen Gorge and the entrance to the Chuchur Gorge.
A complex of waterfalls of varying size flows down the rocky clones of the Ptysh Gorge, their second name is “Maiden Spits”. The Northern Ptysh River originates from them. As the waterfalls are formed by the melting of the glacier, their number varies from seven powerful streams in the spring to three small jets in the fall. If you wish, you can climb to their sources, to the very foot of the glacier.
The only glacier of the first category in Dombaj, its area reaches 2 km2 . The view of the glacier is really fascinating: coming down from the saddle of the Ptyshsky pass, the ice mass literally cuts into the greenery of the alpine meadow. The lower tongue of the glacier is at 2,000 meters. Those wishing to climb it should be careful: the surface is rugged with cracks and easy to slip on. You can get here by crossing the Russkaya glade.
The gorge of the river Gonachkhir
The gorge is between the villages Dombai and Teberda, near the place of confluence of the rivers Gonchakhir and Amanauz. The name means “a narrow place”. Entrance to the gorge is really framed by close cliffs, and then the slopes part, forming a picturesque valley. Here is a border area, for tourists is open only 15 km of the total length of 30 km. The route can be taken by car.
The large mountain lake is considered the crown jewel of the Gonchahir Gorge. It is located at an altitude of 1,850 meters and the name translates as “foggy”, and fogs are indeed not uncommon here. In sunny weather, the shores offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The water is cold, but on hot days it warms up to 20 0 C. In the past, there was a trout breeding here, it is still found in the lake, but fishing is prohibited.
The valley of the Ullu-Muruju River
The transparent turquoise water of this river is believed to be one of the cleanest bodies of water in Europe. It starts from the glaciers and the bottom is stony, in some places lined with huge boulders. It flows through a very picturesque valley, which has a view of the Murudzha Needle. Near Teberda and Dombai, the banks are surrounded by pine forest. The route through the valley is not easy, in the upper reaches there are mountain lakes.
The group of lakes on the river Ullu-Muruju, at an altitude of 3,000 meters in the protected zone. Only well-prepared travelers should be able to reach them; it will take them two days on foot. Three lakes: Peacock Eye, Black Lake and Blue Lake, are the most famous, even upstream there are countless smaller bodies of water. The water in Blue Lake has a fabulous turquoise hue, it is the largest in Dombaj (length 500 meters, depth 52 meters). Peacock Eye is the warmest lake.
Among the numerous guest complexes of Dombai this object stands out by its unusual appearance and its history. The hotel was built in 1979 on the slope of Mussa-Achitar, at an altitude of 2,250 meters. It was presented to Dombai by the President of Finland, who had conquered the local peaks. The building looks like a UFO, lost in the mountains, it can accommodate 6 people. Still receiving guests, the interior also corresponds to the space theme.
The village of Dombai stands at the very foot of this ridge. It is named after the traveler Semenov Tyanshansky, the height is 3,602 meters. The summit is always covered with a snow cap. At an altitude of 2,750 meters is Crystal Lake with blue clear water, through which you can see even the stones at the bottom. Crystal Pass at an altitude of 3,100 meters opens up beautiful panoramas of surrounding peaks and gorges. There are routes of varying degrees of complexity along the ridge.
Big glacial lake near Klukhori pass is situated near the Abkhazian border. The height above sea level is 2 700 meters, and the lake is surrounded by rocks. You can reach it by asphalt road from the Teberda River. The width of the lake is 400 meters, its length is 500 meters, its depth is from 11 to 35 meters. The water is turquoise with a milky hue, very cold. Ice comes off only in the summer. Noisy river Northern Klukhor flows out of the lake.
Attractions of Dombaj
The nature has given Dombai unique sights: mountains, lakes, glaciers, grottoes and forests. Every year the inimitable natural monuments of the resort attract thousands of tourists from all over Russia and other countries of the world. There is really something to see and admire here.
One of the most popular attractions of the Dombai resort is the Alibek Glacier. This is the only accessible glacier of Teberda reserve, which descends into dense forest zone. And even in hot summer it is real winter on the glacier! Practically anyone can get on the glacier, but it is worth stocking up patience, as the time on the way will be about 7 hours. But it is worth it.
Regular tourists of the resort say that anyone who has not been to Alibek, does not know what Dombai is. You can drive along the road to the mountaineering base “Alibek” and then move along the forest path, which goes to the glade Uzun-Tala. It is there that a picturesque view of the glacier and the majestic mountains opens up.
Mount Belalakaya, or ‘Striped Rock’, is the landmark of Dombajskaya glade. It is famous for the white quartz band, about 50 meters wide, that cuts through the rock. The name of the peculiar mountain comes from several words: “beli” – Belt”, “ala” – mottled, “kaya” – rock. The height of the mountain is 3,861 meters. The uniqueness of this place is that a few thousand years ago there was a plain here, and mountain formations appeared due to gigantic forces that lifted a section of the Earth’s crust from the depths of the bowels. The mountain is popular among geologists and tourists alike. And the image of Dombai’s pride is emblazoned on the “Aque Minerale” label.
The Semenov-Bashi ridge, thanks to the dome-shaped protrusion of its eastern part, is an easily accessible panoramic point, which offers a beautiful view of the Dombai-Ulgen River valley, Main Ridge, Amanauz and Teberda valleys and Dombai glade. Dombai mountains amaze with their majesty and splendor. Like a beautiful queen, Balalakaya Mountain welcomes guests. Everyone can see its ideally correct Peak Ine, a complex of peaks called Dzhuguturlyuchat. You can see Sufruja mountain in the distance, about which Eleonora Brezovskaya composed a fascinating story.
Dombai Glade is situated in the southern part of the Teberda reserve in the upper Teberda valley.
At the confluence of Dombai-Ulgen, Amanauz and Alibek rivers there are several beautiful glades that give the whole region its name. The glades offer exceptionally beautiful panoramas of peaks and glaciers, which also attract excursionists.
Presently Dombajskaya glade has a tourist complex, consisting of hotel infrastructure, recreation and entertainment facilities for skiers. There are 3 turns of a new complex of ropeways, 5 turns of the old chairlift, a network of rope tows (200 – 600 meters long).
The Mussa-Achitar ridge is a great observation point, which offers a magnificent view of the peaks and glaciers of the Main Ridge, the valley of Teberda and Gonachkhir and the mighty Elbrus.
The cemetery of mountaineers – a memorial place in Dombaj
The Memorial Cemetery of Mountain Climbers is a memorable place in Dombaj. Those, who conquered the peaks in the post-war period, are buried here. On the monuments you can see plates with such dates: 70-s, 80-s, 1995, 2000, 2003 … Someone admires courage and heroism of the dead climbers, and someone asks a question: “Why did they go to the mountains? To get to the cemetery is not difficult: from the main asphalt road Dombai to a dead end, and then along the country road.
Teberda State Nature Biosphere Reserve
Today the reserve is one of the most visited in the system of protected territories of Russia.
The Teberda State Natural Biosphere Reserve is located in the Western Caucasus, in the basin of the Teberda River, a tributary of the Kuban, and is administratively part of the Karachaevsky District of the Karachay-Cherkessia Autonomous Region. The territory of the reserve (total area – 69,535 ha) stretches along the northern slope of the Main Caucasus Range and its side spurs; it occupies the entire area of the upper Teberda River and its tributaries to the south of the Epchik-Dzhemagat and Mukhu Rivers and is bounded by high rocky ridges.
This is not surprising, as there are many amazing and beautiful places on its territory. The Teberda and Gonachkhir rivers carry their waters through the reserve, numerous moraine and kar lakes enliven the mountains. The elegance and, at the same time, the power of Amanauz, Alibek and Ptysh glaciers take your breath away. Thick deciduous, coniferous and mixed forests, immense bright subalpine and alpine meadows, plenty of rare plants, flowers and animals attract more than 100 thousand tourists annually.
The state has taken this outstanding for its natural riches and beauty corner of the Northern Caucasus under special protection. Each visitor of the reserve must cherish its wonderful nature in order to preserve it in all its splendor and integrity.
Amanauz Gorge or Devil’s Mill
The gorge “Devil’s Mill” or Amanauz refers to the open museum, which is famous for its waterfalls and canyons. “Amanauz” means “evil mouth” from Karachai. This place is called “gloomy” because the slope of Belalakaya and Teatralny Peak very narrow the beginning of the gorge. The sun practically does not get here, and over the Amanauz River sometimes snow bridges do not melt even in summer. The gloominess is conveyed by rains and fogs, which then come to Dombayskaya glade as well. And as the observation platform is not big, one has to be very careful, because the precipice is right over the gorge.
The fabulous turquoise lake got its name because when there are no people around, the aurochs go down to it to drink water. The lake got its unusual color due to the low water temperature, which is not higher than +3 degrees. In summer, the lake is still covered with ice, as it is located between the Dvu and Alibek glaciers. The origin of the lake is moraine. Excursion to the unusual place takes about 8 hours. The main route goes through the alpine meadows, through the cemetery of mountaineers and camp “Alibek”. It should be noted that you should not risk going to the lake without a guide, as it is very easy to get lost.
The Azgek lakes are located in the basin of the Azgek River, the right tributary of the Mukhu River. In autumn and on cloudy days, the area leaves an impression of gloom and harshness, while in summer, especially on a sunny day, soft colors and shapes are in the foreground here.
Lakes Murudzha and Baduk Lake
Murudzha lakes are a unique natural treasure of Dombaj, their beauty will impress any tourist. They are situated in the valley of the Ullu-Murudzhu river. The most famous among them are Blue and Black lakes.
Baduk Lake is a group of mountain lakes, located in the middle course of Baduk River, the tributary of the Khadzhibey River. These lakes, as well as the Baduk and Hajibey valleys themselves, are rightly considered one of the most picturesque places in the reserve.
There are many waterfalls in the mountains of Teberda and Dombai: Chuchhursky, Ptyshsky, Sofrudzhinsky, Alibeksky and Shupka.
Alibeksky waterfall is considered the biggest and most spectacular waterfall of Dombai. His raging stream flows down from a height of 25 meters. But the way to it doesn’t take long. The first part of the way goes through a picturesque fir forest, and you can go on foot or by car. In the wintertime, avalanches often fall here, and in June you can see their remains. On the way to the waterfall, tourists can also enjoy beautiful views of alpine meadows and birch woodland.
Mountain cab, excursions Dobaya Teberda: Dzhamagat Gorge (narzan springs), Mukhin Gorge (Azgek Lakes), Baduk Lakes, Teberda Nature Reserve, Shumka Waterfall. Dombai: Alibek Gorge (waterfall, Turye Lake, glacier), Amanauz Gorge (Devil’s Mill Canyon, waterfall, glacier), Dombai-Elgen Gorge. Gonachkhir (Trout Lake), Russian Glade, Chuchhur Waterfalls, Maiden’s Spits Waterfall, Ptyshsky Glacier, Maiden’s Tears Waterfall. And also trips to Cherkessk, Pyatigorsk and Mineralnye Vody. Phone: 8-928-380-10-61; 8-988-716-29-85.