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  1. About 300 kilometers (190 miles) separate the Taman Peninsula steppe in the north and the resort city of Sochi in the south on Russia??s Black Sea coast. From May to October, the country??s resort life is concentrated on this relatively short coastline. Dozens of coastal towns and villages, hundreds of hotels and health resort centres, welcome millions of vacationers from all over Russia, and foreign tourists from different countries to the Black Sea coast. It is situated at the same latitude as the Adriatic Sea, the Italian and the French Rivieras and, therefore, resembles them in many respects.

    Why is the Black Sea called ???black???? There is no definite answer. The ancient Greeks and Romans called it Pontus Euxinus, the ???hospitable sea,??? whereas the Turks, on the contrary, nicknamed it Karaden-Giz, ???inhospitable.??? It is also assumed that the sea got its name because of the color of the silt left on the beaches after storms, or due to the fact that metal items turn black when they are deep underwater.

    The Black Sea is also often referred to as the ???Sea of Dead Depths???: there is no life in the Black Sea at a depth of 200 meters (656 feet) and below because of the high percentage of hydrogen sulfide dissolved in the water. There are very few fish at that depth, though one may come across an occasional beluga or sturgeon. Oysters, mussels, and crabs can be found, and eels and swordfish appear from time to time; whales are a rarity. Dolphins, however, visit the area quite frequently, not only in the high seas or dolphinaria (in the towns of Ghelenjik and Adler), but also at seaside beaches where they sometimes allow people to play with them. There are two species of shark found in the Black Sea, fortunately, both are small and completely harmless.
Sochi will host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games
The Black Sea near the town of Gelendzhik
The friendliest inhabitants of the Black Sea - dolphins

  1. The northern Black Sea coast area, including the Taman Peninsula and the Kuban Lowland, are known for their traditional wine-making. Starting at the end of the 19th century, a winery has been operating on the shore of the picturesque Abrau-Dyurso Lake near the city of Novorossiysk. Its huge wine caves are built 90 meters (295 feet) under ground. It was here that first-class quality Russian wine was first produced. The quality of the wine is comparable to the famous French champagne, but the Russian wine is much cheaper. One may try any local selection of different wines in numerous tasting rooms and, of course, in any of the restaurants along the coast.

    Anapa, the largest family resort town in Southern Russia, was founded in 1846. Anapa??s perfect sandy and pebble beaches stretch for about 50 kilometers (31 miles). The sea is shallow and its bottom is flat, making it especially enjoyable for small children.

    The city of Sochi is called ???Russia??s summer capital.??? This resort and park takes up 150 kilometers (93 miles) of the coastal area, consisting of several health-resort urban-style villages: Adler, Khosta, Matsesta, Dagomys, and Lazarevskoye. The first of these started to operate in 1838. Sochi??s population exceeds 300,000 and it hosts at least 3 million vacationers every year.

    Over 200 hotels and health resort centres are located in the area. Many palm trees, agaves, magnolias, red maples, and numerous flower gardens decorate the streets and colour the city with their unique palette. The Sochi Arboretum, the home to plant species from all over the world, is especially famous. One can see subtropical flora in the Southern Cultures Park. Taking a stroll in the Riviera seaside park is sure to uplift one??s spirits. There is something for everyone at this resort: from scuba diving, windsurfing, water-skiing to yachting, sailing, fishing, and spear-fishing.

    Sochi is also famous for its mineral water springs and mud-baths, especially in the valleys of Matsesta, Agura, and Khosta Rivers where those in search of therapeutic treatments have come since the days of old. It is said that the Athenians, the Romans, and the Byzantines used to make the journey to this part of the world from their respective countries to receive treatment. There are over 50 bore-wells that lift the healing water from the deep for therapeutic baths, mineral vapor inhalation, and sparkling mineral water for drinking. The best-known mineral water in the Black Sea area is the carbonic Chvizhepse. The local resorts are famous for successfully treating all sorts of gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neurological, hematological, and dermatological problems. Many consider that Sochi is on par with the glorified resorts of Nice or San Remo. The favorable subtropical climate, pure, oxygenated sea air, as well as rich zones of southern vegetation definitely do wonders for one??s health.

    Sochi will host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
Sochi. Sea port
???Had I played my cards right, I??d live in Sochi right now,??? joke the Russians, who regard the Black Sea coast as a real paradise
A summer can be as rich as a lifetime, - as the lyrics to one popular Russian song go

  1. To the south, in the city of Tuapse, the spurs of the Big Caucasus mountain range come down to the very sea coast. The gorges and mountain creeks, forming numerous waterfalls, are very picturesque. The Akhshtyrsky Canyon of the Mzymta River is one of the most beautiful places one can find in the area. A twisting mountain road inlaid with rocks leads to the village of Krasnaya Polyana (???Red Glade???). On the way there, tourists usually visit a trout-farm where one can fish, and an apiary (local honey-making enterprise) which is the largest in Europe. A lot of construction and renovation work is being done in these places. Alongside an old and very narrow road a new, modern, wide, and safe road has been recently constructed. New tunnels were cut through the mountains, one of them as long as two kilometers (1.25 miles).

    Krasnaya Polyana is situated about 600 meters (2,000 feet) above sea level. Recently, a brand-new mountain-skiing resort has been built here with federal incentives. Both tourists and professional athletes favor this resort because of its mild winter climate, abundant snow, and a variety of slopes. President Vladimir Putin, who is a great fan of mountain-skiing, has visited this resort several times, which gave new momentum to its development. Mountain-skiing is becoming more and more popular in Russia: the landscape and a great climate allow for the development of winter resorts, of which Krasnaya Polyana is a good example. New hotels, caf?s, elevating platforms, and other components of tourist infrastructure are being built here at a fast pace.

    The wild, severe, and majestic atmosphere of the Caucasus Mountains makes a strong impression upon locals and visitors alike. The height of the mountain peaks, covered with permanent snows, reaches about 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) in the area of Krasnaya Polyana. This is also a favorite gathering place for mountain-skiers and hang-gliders. One may also take a ride from here in a hot-air balloon and admire the fantastic panorama of the mountains from a bird??s-eye view. In addition, local rafting is very popular among tourists, with water routes designed for different levels of skill: special routes for children, beginners, as well as skilled rafters.

    In the mountains, the air temperature goes down by 6 ?C for every 1,000 meters (about 12 ?F for every 3,280 feet): if it is 25 ?C (77 ?F) at the seashore, it is as cold as 7 ?C (45 ?F) at an altitude of 3,000 meters (9,842 feet). Krasnaya Polyana offers its visitors a unique vacation combination of mountain-skiing in the morning and sun-bathing at the beach the same afternoon. After enjoying first-class skiing, one can drive down to the coast and in about a half of an hour enjoy a dip in the warm sea. There are not very many places on the planet where such contrasting conditions are combined organically and comfortably.
Skiers searching for the most pungent feelings are taken by helicopters to the highest mountain top
The Mountain Ski Resort Krasnaya Polyana in the Caucasus. It is only a 40 minute ride from here to the warm beaches of the Black Sea
Russia??s?Prime Minister?Vladimir Putin and his wife Lyudmila are enthusiastic mountain-skiers

  1. There are few places in the European part of Russia that can compare with the Mount Elbrus area, especially when it comes to beauty and variety of landscapes and the potential for development of tourism. In the past two or three years, many new comfortable modern hotels have been built here. They feature restaurants, transportation services, skiing and climbing equipment rentals.
    The main attraction that brings people here from all over the world is, of course, the mesmerizing white twin peaks of Elbrus. It??s Europe??s highest point: 5,642 meters or 18,510 feet. In the area around the Bezengi Valley there are five towering peaks over 5,000 meters (16,000 feet) high.

    The caravan route to the western summit of Elbrus takes you from the Terskol settlement by cable car through the famous Barrels.

    Some tour operators offer ascents by way of remote and incredibly beautiful routes on the north and the southwest of Elbrus. They provide high quality services: experienced guides and interpreters, full range of climbing and camping equipment, including large comfortable mess tents, cooks, trekking porters, satellite phones, and radios.

    Those attracted to beautiful landscapes, quiescence, and retreat can take advantage of equestrian tours, hikes through picturesque valleys with night stays at local hotels, or trekking tours through moderately challenging hills. A high altitude plateau to the north of Elbrus is ideal for mountain biking.
Double-peaked Elborus (5,642 metres) ?? the highest peak in Europe
A rope-way in Dombai

  1. Having passed the Big Caucasus mountain range (the easiest way to do this is definitely by plane), one reaches another very interesting place in Southern Russia: the Caucasus Mineral Waters health resort. Approaching the area, one passes a panorama of mountains, among them the Beshtau, Mashuk, Zheleznaya and Zmeika: they look like volcanoes, until the flat steppe opens out into the distance. The air in this region is extremely clear and pure, and the hillsides of the rather low mountains are covered with dense oak and hornbeam forest. There are lots of apple, pear, cherry-plum and other sorts of wild fruit trees thriving here.

    The health resort is surrounded by the beautiful spurs of the Big Caucasus. Here, one can see rocky peaks reaching up to touch the sky above the clouds, blue glaciers, green alpine meadows, the depths of gloomy ravines, noisy rivers with their rapids and waterfalls, small villages and ancient temples. People believe that the view of the awesome Caucasus landscape itself has miraculous healing power; many painters and photographers flock to the area to pay tribute to the unbelievable scenery there.

    The Dombai Glade is located in the Teberda River??s upper reaches. Tourists, even those who are not that familiar with the terrain, can quite easily go from this point to either Alikbek Glacier or to the Klukhori Passage (2,782 metres) and the blue, small and deep Klukhori Lake, where ice floes dance even in the hot summer.

    Mineral waters are the most traditional and efficient healing sources in the Northern Caucasus. The local mineral water springs have been famous from days of old: they are extremely versatile in their treatments and healing therapies, which are unique in the world. The famous health resorts of Kislovodsk, Pyatigorsk, Zheleznovodsk and Yessentuki were established here as early as the 19th century. Over a hundred mineral water springs are concentrated within quite a small area. The most famous of them is Narzan, meaning ???mighty water??? in the Circassian language. There are over 100 well-equipped health centres and over two dozen tourist and hotel complexes in the area. Over half a million people come here every year to rest and to get therapeutic treatment. They usually forget about what is ailing them for a long time after their visit to the Caucasus Mineral Waters resorts. From this goes the legend of Caucasian longevity: it is precisely in this region that the majority of people live to be older than 100.
The Caucasus Mineral Waters resort
The resort of Caucasian Mineral Waters
The Caucasus is an incredible place for horseback tours
Tour Operators
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Dagomys Health-improvement Complex, Sochi
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Radisson SAS Lazurnaya Peak Hotel
Menu: Vesna Boarding House
Vesna Boarding House, Sochi
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