From the Olympic Park to the Caucasus Mountains – Day 2: Unique nature of Abkhazia

Today's route through Abkhazia will be unforgettable. You will start your journey from Colonnade in Gagra, get to the beautiful blue lake with its legends, see mysterious Yupshar canyon, also called "Stone Bag", and the best for dessert - the most famous of all natural wonders of Abkhazia - alpine lake Ritsa, fabulously beautiful, clean, magical.
From the Olympic Park to the Caucasus Mountains
Travel distance by car: 165 km.Travel distance on foot: 0 km.Visiting: Adler, Gagra, Ritsa, Aripsta, Leselidze, Anhashtuki, Sochi, Veseloye

Trip duration: 4 days

Ekaterina Shmelkova

La Luna

Caucasian Restaurants

Before a trip to Abkhazia you can have breakfast here. Varied menu, here you can taste dolma, shish kebab, khachapuri, dishes of European cuisine. Wonderfully cooked fish, salmon with cream sauce, seabass and dorado on the grill. It's open from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m.


Our journey begins with an early departure from the hotel. Today we are on our way to Abkhazia - a wonderful sunny country of the proud Caucasus. Abkhazia can be reached through the border crossing point, where you can stay for some time, so we recommend you to have breakfast in a hotel or take food with you to have breakfast on the shore of the pebble beach directly in Abkhazia.


Scenic Lookouts

In the very center of Old Gagra, a stone's throw from the Seaside Park and the cult restaurant "Gagripsh", is the oldest and most famous attraction of Abkhazia - the Gagra Colonnade. The Gagra Colonnade is a beautiful multi-arch structure over 60 m long, built in Moorish style. Four snow-white towers are connected by arcades, each of which consists of 8 arches. The semicircle of the colonnade surrounded the square, which during the Soviet regime was called the square of the USSR Constitution. The center of the square is decorated with an elegant fountain with a small sculpture in the form of a white dove, symbolizing peace on earth. The Gagra Colonnade together with the fountain form a single architectural ensemble. Other sights of Gagra are also located on this square. To the left of the Primorsky Park is a movie theater, decorated with elegant spiral staircases and large lions. Today it is in a dilapidated state, but some traces of its former charm have survived to this day. Nearby you can see a colorful mosaic fountain, reminiscent of the creations of the legendary Spanish architect Gaudi.

Cafe Besedka


For those who haven't eaten in front of the road, there is a chance to have breakfast or lunch in this cafe. It is considered one of the most delicious in Abkhazia.

Blue Lake (Голубое озеро | ცისფერი ტბა | Blue Lake)


At the very beginning of the road you can see the grotto of Azhugra-ahp. This cave, safely hidden in the rocks and about 18 meters deep, is interesting because the site of an ancient Middle Paleolithic man was found here. Tools of labour, remains of clay vessels were found at the site. Further along the way, groundwater seeps through the limestone rocks and flows off the cliffs like tears. That's why this waterfall is called the Girl's Tears. According to local beliefs, the wishes of this place will come true. On the eighth kilometer of the road to the Ritza on the bank of the Bzyb river one can see the ruins of the Hasan-Abaa watch fortress, the construction of which dates back to the IX-X centuries. The tall tower is surrounded by 1.5 m thick walls. Maybe this tower had a connection to Bzybsk Fortress. Further along the way, an amazing small lake opens up. It has an amazingly bright color, which is why it was called Blue. The blue lake is a karst well 24 m deep. Water in it is very cold - not higher than +14 degrees at the surface. In the area of the Blue Lake, the gorge is divided, and the Gegha River flows into Bzybj. The adjoining road leads to the most beautiful Gega waterfall, the height of which reaches 20 meters. On the river Bzyb we advise you to make a stop and ride a bungee over the bubbling waters or float down the river on raft (inflatable boat).

Юпшарское Ущелье "Каменный Мешок"

Scenic Lookouts

Yupshar canyon is a fascinatingly beautiful natural monument in the mountainous Abkhazia. The canyon was formed in a huge rock, which split in an earthquake centuries ago. The Yupshara River flows along the deep canyon, which has a total length of 12 km. The river has washed away a giant crack in the rock formed during the earthquake for many thousands of years. The river has its source in the mountain lake Ritsa, located in the Western Caucasus. The Yupshara River flows into the Gegha River, which belongs to the Black Sea basin. The water in the Yupshara River is clear and transparent, with a slight bluish hue. Yupsharsky canyon has the second name - "Stone bag". It wasn't for nothing that he was nicknamed "The Stone Bag". The canyon has a length of 8 km, the height of the rocks is about 400 meters, and the distance between the tops of the rocks does not exceed several tens of meters. From the inside of the canyon you can see only a narrow strip of sky, there is always darkness and it seems as if you are inside a stone bag. Huge majestic cliffs rising on both sides delight in their grandeur. The sunlight hardly penetrates the canyon, which makes it always cool. Due to the high humidity, the steep cliffs are decorated with centuries-old green and red mosses, boxwood and evergreen ivy. The bottleneck of the canyon is called the Yupshar Gate. Here the distance between the tops of the rocks is only 20 meters, and inside the canyon it seems as if they have closed at all. Immediately after the Jupshar Gate a steep ascent begins, which leads to Lake Ritza.

Смотровая Площадка "Прощай, Родина"

Scenic Lookouts

Why is this place called "Goodbye, Motherland"? There are several versions. The thing is, the road in those places is very narrow. On the one hand, it is backed by a rock, on the other hand, it has a bottomless abyss, and sometimes cars have to drive on the very edge of the cliff. Local tour guides tell a story like that. This road was built by the Germans during the war. And one day, their car slipped into the abyss. One of them managed to shout out the words "Goodbye, Motherland", which later became the name of this place. He probably liked these places so much that he became his second homeland... The other version sounds a little more plausible. It says that a bus with Russian soldiers retreating under fire broke down into the abyss.

Lake Ritsa

High-mountainous lake Ritsa is one of the most interesting natural tourist attractions not only in Abkhazia but also on the entire Black Sea coast of the Caucasus. The lake is also a unique natural site. Throughout its millennia-long history, it has never frozen. There is a huge amount of trout in Ritza, which can be tasted at any restaurant on the lake shore. Recently the infrastructure around Lake Ritza has started to develop actively, as the number of tourists visiting this place is constantly growing. Many cafes and restaurants offer delicious local dishes. Tourists have a great opportunity to take a ride on Lake Ritza on water bikes or a boat, admiring the amazing beauty of the surrounding nature. We recommend to eat on the beach in any local cafe and enjoy the beauty of the wonderful lake Ritza.

Смотровая площадка

Scenic Lookouts

It's getting darker in the mountains, so I have to go back. On the way back, stop at the observation deck overlooking Gagra. Even at night, millions of lights in the city resemble the starry sky reflected in the sea surface.

МАПП «Адлер» (Россия)

Border Crossings

The border post can be passed quite quickly, but if you have to stand here for a while, you will agree that the time spent is worth all the beauty of Abkhazia.

Паста & бар «Пармезан»

Pizza Places

Very nice and cozy place to complete a busy day. It is possible to sit on the terrace covered with a plaid and take a book from the restaurant library. The interior's beautiful, the cleanliness is being monitored. Coffee is served with a small glass of water and a complimentary cake. Nice little things :) The restaurant is open from 10am to 11pm.

Omega Sochi Hotel