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 [ Respect the forest, don't make fires ! ]

 [ The Syltran Valley ]

Written by : Ton van den Berg.
Pictures by : Boris Habets.
Date : december 1997.

For the second time, we are back where we started: the little village Elbrus at the end of the Baksan valley. A couple of days ago we were sent back by Russian soldiers, when we wanted to cross the border to Georgia, and this morning our tents were covered by snow. The weather was not to good until so far, but when the sun peeped through the clouds, we started to make new plans for a hike.

Elbrus is a small village under the majestic mountain after which it is named. Elbrus used to be a touristic center, but since the Soviet Union is no longer, there is no money anymore for tourism. The hotels are therefore empty and the Turbasa (camp for hikers) are deserted.

 [ Elbrus from the Syltran pass ]
Elbrus from the Syltran pass

Supplies can be bought in the little kiosks near the main road. The choice is limited to macaroni with canned tomatoes, chocolate and cookies (no bread, no cheese). What a diet during our next trek! And they even charge a lot of money for it. The nearest market is in Nalchik, which is not an option because of the two and a half hour drive from here.

We catch a ride to Verkney Baksan by a little bus. Hitch hiking is fairly easy in the Baksan valley. Normally you pay the driver for the ride (e.g. $10 for 5 persons). Make a deal before you get in, otherwise you have to pay double when you want to get out. The bus rounds the cows on the road very close. They just stay on the road when cars are passing by with 50 miles an hour on both sides. The road is only sometimes paved with asphalt, and stretches out through the wide valley. The colors of the autumn can already be seen in the leaf tree forests. The Donguzorun and Nakra peaks at the end of the valley are covered with fresh snow.

>> first stage : Verkney Baksan - Syltran Lake

 [ Verkney Baksan in the Baksan valley ]
Verkney Baksan in the Baksan valley

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