Cave Bears, Dolmens, and Waterfalls “Oh my” Ten things to do in Sochi

Akhshtyrskaya cave


1. The Akhshtyrskaya cave site is one of the most famous in all of Europe. The cave was discovered at the beginning of XX century by a French scholar, E. Martel. During all the years of excavations more than 6000 bones have been accounted for, 92% of which belonged to cave bears. The remains of deer, bison, goat, wolf, fox and other animals were found too. It has been established, that the first people who settled in Akhshtyrskaya cave occurred about 70 thousand years ago. It was during this time period the  Neanderthal people used the cave. When the Neanderthal peoples ceased using the cave it was another  20 thousand years before it was used again. Then about 30-35 thousand years ago the cave was re-occupied by the Cro-Magnon people. There have been time since then it has been home to other peoples too. Scholars have explained these lengthy intervals between “house-warmings” by the fact that the cave became unsuitable for living, from time to time. When the cave became unsuitable for humans cave bears would take up refuge.

The Dolmens


2. Dolmens (portal tombs) are single-chamber megalithic graves, usually consisting of three or more upright stones supporting a large flat horizontal table. They look very much like smaller versions of the Stonehenge. Northern Caucasus and the Black Sea region are home to many of these constructions of unknown descent. While not exactly a breathtaking sight, it surely is interesting to touch and feel something that was quite possibly erected four or five thousand years BC.


Northern Most Tea Plantation


3. The northernmost tea plantations in Europe are close to Sochi. Yuda Koshman learned how to grow tea at a plantation in Sukhum (Abkhazia) and in 1901 moved to Solokhaul to found what is locally considered the most northern tea plantation in the world. Other attempts financed by the Muscovite magnates whose interest in the ‘Russian riviera’ developed in the last decades of the Empire had failed previously. Koshman labored throughout the revolution and the civil war and by the end of the 1930s his efforts began to yield fruit and tea plantations began to spring up along the slopes of the mountains around Dagomys, a town located a few miles west of Sochi. The Krasnodar tea blend is now the most consumed Russian tea. In Solokhaul a small museum honors the work done by Koshman


Sochi Aquarium


4. The largest aquarium in Russia — Sochi Discovery World Aquarium®– was opened in Sochi.

On the territory of 6000 square meters there are 30 aquariums, a total of 5 million liters of water. Feel like Neptune next to the aquarium, where colorful fish swim. Enjoy a sea star, passing through the tunnel, where the corals are sparkling and the huge shark floats.

The entire exposition of the Sochi discovery World Aquarium fascinates by the gently splashing freshwater “lakes”, bridges, “wild” forests, rocks and waterfalls: in this filigree frame the Jewelry of Russia’s largest collection of the best, most beautiful works of nature look particularly fascinating.

Sochi National Park


5. Sochi has over 200,000 hectares of forests, 4,000 of which are within Sochi Centre. Sochi encompasses several specially protected natural zones: the Caucasian National Biosphere Reserve, Sochi National Park, the Russian Federation National Wildlife Sanctuary, and over 30 botanical gardens and parks and nature sanctuaries housing over 30,000 wild-life plant species.

Sochinsky National Park

Where the foothills of the Great Caucasus Mountain Range cascade into the warm waters of the Black Sea lies one of Russia’s unique natural areas: nowhere else in the country are subtropical and high-mountain landscapes located so close to one another. This diversity of landscapes supports a similar diversity of plant and animal life that makes the region important not just for its aesthetic value, but for its role in conserving biodiversity. For the joint purposes of preserving and studying the natural riches of the region while making them more accessible to visitors, Sochinsky National Park — Russia’s first national park—was founded in 1983.


Sochi coastline


6. Just an hour’s drive from Krasnaya Polyana is the pride of Sochi – 147 kilometers of stunning beaches, are not inferior to the Mediterranean. They form one of the longest coastlines in Europe and make Sochi one of the most beautiful resorts in the world. Over the past hundred years in Sochi visited millions of visitors who came to witness the scenic coast and experience the healing effects of clean air and mineral waters of Sochi.


Sochi Botanical Gardens


7. Sochi has a number of other attractions here besides its beaches. The third largest botanical gardens in the former Soviet Union are located here, the only tea plantations in Russia, as well as a host of other great day trips into the Caucasus mountains with beautiful waterfalls and mountain meadows. There are great opportunities to travel into the nearby Caucasus mountains from here, so anyone interested in mountain climbing, hiking, caving or mountain-biking will love the Sochi region. The highest summit in Europe, Mt. Elbrus is located not very far from Sochi.


Achun Tower


8. Achun Tower stands on top of the Achun mountain that is situated about 3 km (2 mi) from the sea-coast at elevation of 662 meters above sea level. The name came either from a local Abchaz word “ach” and means “hill” or it might be given after Achin, god of shepherds and hunters. The tower was designed by S.I. Vorobiev and constructed in 1936 as a medieval stronghold near ruins of a Byzantine church. It took only 108 days to erect this structure that reached a total height of 30 meters. Some say that in a good weather you can see the shores of Turkey.


Take a tour at Abrau Durso Winery


9. Abrau Durso Winery is located between Anapa and Novorossiysk near the Black Sea Coast. It was developed in 1870 by decree of Emperor Alexander II on land found by agronomist Feodor Geiduk in a small, rugged valley about 20 kilometers north of Novorossiysk. Abrau Durso is named after two streams, the Abrau that forms a small, natural lake (the largest in the North Caucasus) in front of winery, and the Durso, which falls to the Black Sea two kilometers distant and 84 meters below. The first grapes planted included Riesling, Portugieser, Aligote, Sauvignon, Saperavi, and Muscat.


Visit the Dzhegosh waterfalls


10. Legend of the waterfalls The 33 waterfalls in the river Dzhegosh, a popular day trip for tourists, were created by a giant. This giant Dzhegosh had an appetite for the women of the Adyghe tribes. At a certain point the men of the tribe gave the giant water mixed with honey to drink and then let wild bees loose on him. Trying to escape the insects Dzegosh jumped up and down 33 times, thereby opening cracks in the earth and creating the waterfalls in the river.

All in all, the South of Russia offers a great range of activities to suit travelers with diverse tastes and interests, be they athletic, culinary or cultural.


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