South Ossetia National Day Tour
After constant research trips and negotiations, YPT are proud to bring you the ultimate tour to the breakaway state of South Ossetia. Despite being the most difficult to enter out of all four post-Soviet breakaway countries, YPT are able to obtain expedited entry permits for the republic. Only around 500 non Russian tourists have visited South Ossetia since 1993. All that is required for this tour is a double entry Russian visa, YPT will take care of all the breakaway state formalities.
Join us on our tour to one of the world’s newest unrecognised countries! South Ossetia only gained partial independence from Georgia in 2008. This was accepted by Russia and has subsequently also been accepted by Venezuela, Nicaragua and Nauru. Heavily fortified by the Russians, it has its own language, identity, and parliament.
Beginning in the Russian capital of Moscow, we’ll see all the main Soviet sights in the city before beginning an epic train journey through the heart of Southern Russia to Vladikavkaz, the gateway to the Caucasus! Here we’ll see all the local sights, from Soviet monuments to harrowing terrorist attack sites. From here we’ll cross through the Caucasus mountains to South Ossetia to check out the capital city of Tskhinval, take part in their independence day celebrations featuring one of the last Soviet style military parades left in the world and travel to the war-torn city of Leningor checking out Soviet monuments, local culture and ancient history on the way.
Please also note that you will need a double-entry Russian visa to take part in this tour as onward travel from South Ossetia into Georgia is nearly impossible and, frankly, ill-advised.
This tour is a standalone section of a much longer tour, the other parts of which can be seen below:
Interested in the whole shebang? Then sign up for our Transnistria, Russia , Chechnya and Stalingrad mega-combo!
Tuesday 15th September – Moscow
- Arrival in Moscow at your own leisure and check into our hotel.
- We’ll meet up in the evening and head out for a hearty Russian dinner and some welcome shots of local Vodka if you wish.
- Overnight in Moscow.
Wednesday 16th September – Moscow/Train
- Breakfast at the hotel before we check out and store our bags.
- Moscow city tour taking in the Soviet Disneyland of VDNKh, featuring a Vostok rocket, a Soviet Tupolev aircraft, tons of stunning Soviet art and an imposing Lenin.
- We’ll then see the Cosmonaut museum with Yuri Gagarin’s original spacesuit and the incredible monument to the Cosmos outside.
- We’ll then check out Red Square and the KGB headquarters
- We’ll leave in the evening for our mammoth train journey to Vladikavkaz, the gateway to the North Caucasus and home to one of the biggest military bases in Russia!
- Overnight on the train.
Thursday 17th September – Train
- We’ll enjoy breakfast in the restaurant car of the train and spend the rest of the day on board, stopping off at various points for snacks, drinks, souvenirs and a chance to stretch your legs on the platform.
- On our trip we’ll be journeying through the Cossack heartland of Southern Russia, seeing what was once some of the worst battlefields on WW2 and your YPT guide will be on hand to answer any questions and keep you entertained all the way.
- Dinner and overnight on the train.
Friday 18th September – Vladikavkaz
- Morning arrival in Vladikavkaz.
- After check in and breakfast we’ll begin a city tour of Vladikavkaz.
- We’ll see The beautiful Mukhtarov Mosque set against the dramatic backdrop of the Caucasus Mountains. It was used to serve the Ingush residents of Vladikavkaz before they were expelled from North Ossetia in the 1990s.
- We’ll then check out the enormous Soviet monument to Issa Pliyev on horseback, he was a Soviet general who commanded forces during the battle of Moscow and Stalingrad and also played a vital role in the Cuban Missile Crisis.
- Visit the Victory Park full of hulking Soviet monuments to the NKVD, Cossacks, WW2 battles. The park also features one of the last surviving statues of Josef Stalin left in the former USSR, locals claim Stalin was an Ossetian and he is well thought of here.
- We’ll then walk down the picturesque main boulevard of Vladikavkaz set against the might Caucasus mountains, here we’ll have a traditional Ossetian lunch with Caucasian tea and people watch.
- If dates align, we’ll try and catch a concert at the national university of North Ossetia.
- Overnight in Vladikavkaz
Saturday 19th September – Tskhinvali
- After breakfast we’ll meet our driver and have an early start as we visit the site of the Beslan school massacre and pay our respects. In 2004, during the height of the 2nd Chechen war, a group of terrorists captured the school and took over 1,100 people hostage. After three days and a raging battle with security forces, over 334 people (including 186 children) lay dead.
- We’ll grab lunch to go on the road then begin the 4-5 hour drive to Tishkinvali, on the way we’ll stop to see the imposing Soviet monument to the Red Army soldier and hero of the Soviet Union Peter Barbashov who sacrificed his life during the brutal fighting for the city of Vladikavkaz in 1942. There are also a selection of original WW2 tanks and weaponry alongside the monument.
- On the way we’ll stop at some incredible beauty spots and monuments in the mountains.
- We’ll use the infamous Roki Tunnel to cut through the Caucasus mountains before reaching the South Ossetia border, this will be tense and questions will be asked by men in suits but fear not, your YPT guide will take care of all formalities and get you inside.
- Keep an eye out on the road to South Ossetia and you’ll see various artillery guns on standby.
- After arriving in the capital of South Ossetia, we’ll check into our hotel, drop our bags and freshen up before meeting our local high ranking host who will be overseeing our visit to the country and ensuring everything goes smooth.
- We’ll walk through the main city park and see the ‘I love Tshkinval’ sign before going for dinner at one of the best eating spots in the city which is often frequented by the South Ossetian president. We’ll order traditional South Ossetian Chacha to toast your arrival in one of the hardest to visit breakaway republics on earth.
- Overnight in Tskhinvali
Sunday 20th September – Tskhinvali – Independence Day!
- Breakfast in Tskhinvali
- We’ll begin a city tour of the capital city of South Ossetia. We’ll start at the former Intourist hotel of the Soviet era, still functioning but riddled with bullet holes and rocket blasts.
- We’ll then explore the former train station and the plinth outside that once held a statue of Josef Stalin. After this we’ll head down the main street and see the university, outside is the turret of a Georgian army tank which was destroyed outside the train station before embedding itself in the concrete.
- We’ll take our prime spot to see the Military Parade. Representatives of all other breakaway states including the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics will be in attendance and possibly Assad or Putin. If we are lucky, the republic will also roll out Grad launchers, tanks and artillery for the parade.
- We’ll then enjoy lunch in the form of free food trucks from all regions of South Ossetia at the “South Ossetia Cultural Festival”, accompanied by live traditional music, dance and other performances. The South Ossetian president will be walking around with his delegation.
- Free time to enjoy the days celebrations with firework display in the evening.
- We’ll meet up as a group in the evening to have dinner.
- Overnight in Tskhinval.
Monday 21st September -Tskhinval
- Early start and breakfast in Tskhinval
- We’ll start by exploring the old town of Tskhinval, this is a harrowing experience and it has been left the same since it was obliterated in a Grad rocket strike in 2008. Many buildings are in ruins still with inhabitants. There is a former synagogue here and only one Jewish person left living in the city.
- We’ll then drive out to the highway of death monument, a sobering ring of burnt out cars which were part of a refugee column fleeing the capital. Many were slaughtered in a rocket strike on the column and the memorial stands as testament to the war crime.
- We’ll drive along the lonely mountain road to Leningor, the second biggest city in the republic and inhabited by Georgians. On the way we’ll be passing through stunning scenery and war torn ghost towns.
- We’ll stop at 8th century fortified churches on the way with stunning views of the Caucasus mountains.
- In Leningor, we’ll see the local museum, medieval monuments, Soviet WW2 memorial and monuments to Pushkin. Here it’s possible to buy Georgian wine, brandy and bizarrely, even magnets saying ‘I love Georgia’.
- We’ll enjoy a traditional Georgian lunch in Leningor before returning to the capital.
- Dinner and overnight in Tskhinval.
Tuesday 22nd September
- Breakfast and free morning in Tskhinval to explore the city
- Around 11, we’ll return to Vladikavkaz.
- Late afternoon arrival in Vladikavkaz
- End of tour. YPT is able to arrange further accommodation, transportation and adventures in Russia and beyond!
- Visit the the least visited breakaway country on earth and experience the warm hospitality of the Ossetian people.
- Complete one of Russia’s most epic train journeys from Moscow to the wild Southern frontier of the Caucasus.
- Witness the harrowing war ravaged sites of the 2008 Russo-Georgia war as well as forgotten monasteries over 1,000 years old.
- Taste the exquisite cuisine of the Ossetians and possibly dine alongside the president of this young country!
Inclusions and Exclusions
Tour price inclusion:
- Twin-share Accommodation
- All transport to complete the itinerary
- Guides (YPT and local guides)
- Entrance fees (Unless specified otherwise)
Tour price exclusion:
- Transport to the beginning and from the end of the tour
-Visa fees (YPT can provide a Russian LOI for €35)
-Single supplement (€200)
-Pre-tour accommodation (€40)
– Lunch and dinner
-Tips for the local guides and drivers