6 hiking routes in Crimea mountains

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This is the airport of Simferopol where our seven-day adventure in post-Soviet Crimea began. The old – good buildings of sanatoriums were waiting of us. Certainly we could not afford to live in Hotel Yalta, but spending the night under the bridge was something we also did not want (text ” we rent an appartment” is written on plate under the bridge:)

We choose a sanatorium “Musson” with so popular in soviet clinics weight scales and iron in the main lobby.

It is desirable to start the day of acclimatization from the famous beach of Yalta. How can you pass such a tempting buffet, where prices are stuck directly into meat salad. And one bottle of beer “Premium” costs only 50 cents?!

Unfortunately, further not all is so wonderful, as it not so easy to get to the sea. (texts: entrance only by permit, beach of military sanatorium..)

Finally we find a free territory called “Ozdorovitelnij lagerj” (The Recovery Camp). That is convincing. We notice that any problem can be solved if you have a welder. Even the buoys on the beach actually were welded gas balloons, after painted in red and yellow.

As soon as you look up, someone looks at you and offers to taste Crimean wines or to taste some dried fish. Woman on the top photo carries a hot corn, homemade lunches and baklava. And of course, there is also a cold beer.

After the salt water it is necessary to take some shower of fresh water.


Hiking route No. 1: Yalta – Massandra Palace – Nikita Botanical Garden

From Yalta to Massandra we ride by the famous mountain trolley “trassa”. The total length of its route is 90 km. Lot of traders sell famous Crimean onion nearby the highway. “Sweet as apples” – explain to us local people. In the evening I decide to eat one onion with the wine – after that I cried all the night.

Particular attention should be paid to marking of the route. We used to see traffic signs on plates stuck to pillars. Here all the information should be red from asphalt or on the fence. At first it was difficult to get used to it, and we asked for directions from people just standing on the sign:)

However, we are on the right direction. About it evidenced a wine tasting point located in the middle of the forest. “All straightly from the factory” – explained to us the individual entrepreneur and pour “Kaberne” and pink Muscat wine into a plastic one liter bottles. It is not needed to note that we included Massandra palace in our hiking route just because of opportunity to taste various Crimean wines.

We noticed that passing this meadow, could not pass the institution called “Kassa” (box-office).

The manor house of Alexander III looked impressive, but he poured out something wrong into the fountains (text on fountain: “Warning Toxic!” ).

In Massandra I installed in my GPS next target – Nikita Botanical Gardens, which was praised all over the Russian Empire. Until Nikita Botanical Gardens  just 2 km on a direct line. We decided to walk. The only problem – the gardens are located downhill to the sea side, and there are no straight roads in the Crimea.

Eventually, we spent 2 hours to pass this hiking route. We climbed over the fence, where on the other side was written, that the territory guards a mad dog. We passed by “thick” new buildings of summer residences, passed by neglected park of sanatorium with a monument of Lenin in the center, then rode rather a long way by minibus and arrived in Nikita recently before closing.

Nikita is the famous royal botanist denominated after the year 1917 revolution. Now Lenin steps on the highest pedestal and Nikita is only on the third step of pedestal. On the second step of pedestal was probably Stalin, but now he’s disqualified.

The Soviet people would not be a Soviet people, if in a botanical garden on a bamboo stalk do not write “I was there…”.

We ate fresh chicken, prepared on the grill (it costs 50 Ukrainian hryvnia or approximately 2 USD) on the promenade of Yalta and drank Massandra wine (which is straightly from the factory). The only problem – there is nowhere to wash your hands. In the fountain it is impossible. (text: do not wash hands. water is with chemistry. watch your children)

Hiking route No. 2: Yalta – Nest of Swallow (with a ship)

The most proud colonial building in Yalta is Hotel – cinema. The largest monument is monument of Lenin. It is no problem here to have a dinner. The dining-room “Fialka” and similar institutions are working seven days in a week. The only problem – with your own “alcohol” no admittance (plate on the table)

The gulls screamed. We passed by the Livadia Palace, where Stalin, Ruzveld and Cherchill have been signed the Crimean pact. We passed by the State summer residence, where all main state secretaries spent their summer months – including Gorbachov. Further, from the corner appeared the nest. The earthquake in the middle of last century split the rock in a half, but the building succeeded to be saved. Now there is located an Italian restaurant.

Hiking route No. 3: Yalta – City of caves “Eski-Kermen” – Grand Canyon Crimea – hiking Ai-Petri

Finally we left the coast and went to the mountains. After an hour we reached Crimean plateau.  Here begins the lands inhabited by the Tatars. Ancient people have settled here very well. The black pig was waiting for us nearby the City of caves “Eski-Kermen”.


The historians consider that in these holes either rainwater was accumulated or grains dried.

In the next photo you can see the winery. The grape juice flows through a gutter into the lower reservoir and then most probably wine was obtained.

There were the centuries-old traces of carriages on the stone. Just like the ruins of Pompea in Italy. By the way, famous Russian movie “9 рота” was filmed here

We were surprised by the white flowers that cover all the surrounding meadows. Intently looking closer we found that flowers actually are shells. This is a real attack, with which it is impossible to fight.

The mountains became more powerful, but the valley became deeper. We began to ride on the road serpentine, through the fantastic beech forest. This was the entrance to the Crimean Grand Canyon.

The main attraction of the canyon is bathing in the Bath Molodosti (maidenhood), in which the temperature of spring water is 11C. Each swimming makes you younger for 5 years. We swam only three times, because we afraid that later there can be problems with the purchase of alcohol.

A lot of road serpentines and endless beech forest, then flat as a table top of a mountain. 1 kilometer below we can see the Black Sea.

Hiking route No. 4: Yalta – Devil’s Stairs – Balaklava underwater military base – Gulf of Laspi

Again – to the mountains. We drove on the old Crimean road, high above the sea, by the mountains. Garmin drove us to the stage of the road, where a collapse happened recently. We were forced to return and go around about 30 km.

N 44 25 261 E 033 51 480 – it is the beginning of the path of Devil’s stairs. Interesting what happened with the driver of this car?

The guidebook said that this hiking route was almost the only road connecting the coast to the inland.  The route was used as the ancient Roman Via Militaris, connecting forts Hersones and Haraks. And of course, Pushkin also crossed the mountains here and composed a poem on the stairs.

This place is called the Devil’s stairs because of the huge lime steps between the two vertical rocks. We noticed the rocks, but did not see any steps. Instead, we were able to practice rock climbing without safety rope.

After passing through the unique beech forests we have climbed to the top of mountain. Crimean Plateau! It is fantastic!

Somewhere here we allocated our first in the Crimean mountains geopoint. Geocachers – search for Chortova lestnica!

Nearby Sevastopol in the 1950ies in great secrecy was built underwater base. The builders of Moscow subway dug up the huge tunnels and closed them by large doors, which would have guarded the submarines during nuclear war.

The Balaklava beach is very ascetic – the concrete square surrounded by buildings. Further, beware of that barbed wire is not removing your scalp, we climbed by this nice path to the ancient fortress that protects the gulf.

If there are vineyards all around, then there must be a wine factory. And wherever is the factory, also must be a corporate store. A lot of cars and crowd of people was showing the right spot. Regular purchase was Cabernet in 1,5 l plastic bottle and brandy in 1 l plastic bottle. Everything directly from barrel. Prices starting 1 EUR per litre.

We pass a rock, surrounded by uninhabited areas. The lonely road twines along the rock. This road leads to a few quiet bays. This place is called Laspi.

The road ends in a deadlock, where a chaotic parking is formed.

There is no one path, which leads from the parking to the sea, we can see only fences. There is the law in Crimea: if you do not know – ask. Better aware people started to explain: go through the gate, then pass by the recreation center, further – another 300 meters down the road, then down the stairs and then you’ll see.

On our way back we enjoyed luxury resort interpretation by Crimea people..

Hiking route No. 5: Yalta – Alushta – Valley of Ghosts (Dolina Privedenij)

The most convenient is to pass first 40 km between Yalta and Alushta on a mountain trolleybus.

You can feel a crisis in Alushta – there are vacant rooms on every corner.

Actually, there are certain industries that in a crisis times only develop.

We take the photo near the same colonnade that we visited in 1991. At that time there was no trading booth, but the colonnade was decorated with an inscription – the citizens of the USSR have the right to rest-:)

With gladness we left the crowded beaches. Our destination now was Luchistoje – an outpost of the Valley of Ghosts. Unfortunately, we did not get in the last minibus that is why we had to take a taxi. The driver claimed that he knows these places very well – the right path starts in a half-way and it is not necessary to go to Luchistoje exactly.

On some turn of the road driver let us out. While my Garmin warmed up and started to express his dissatisfaction, our dear driver was already far away. Not hard to imagine that whole way, which was saved by the driver, we walked by foot.

When in the early 90ies we rode on bicycles in Crimea and get lost here, this place was absolutely wild. Today, at the end of the path we faced with a house with signboard “Casher”. The logic of the post-Soviet man said that it is possible to go around the house through the bushes, but mind argued – if it is possible, all would do so!

Necessity to handle ticket we discovered later, when deep in the mountains from the shadow of some rock pillar suddenly appeared a black man with a folder and asked us to show up tickets. It is a pity that we did not get into the valley during fog. The appearance of a mysterious employee would have been an unforgettable adventure then.

The flash of photo camera catches me running to the place, where in 1993 we have taken the photo of our group of cyclists (on the right).

Hiking route No. 6: The path of Botkin – the waterfall Uchan-Su – the path Shtangeejevskaja – rocks Taraktash – mountain Ai-Perti

To find the beginning of the path I used GPS. The coordinates of location – N 44 29 805 034 E 06 947. The taxi driver laughed about my gadgets and showed me more traditional markers of the path – right on the ground and nearby walls.

In the Crimean mountains dominates a terrible drought, so thus equipped tourist path is a wonderful invention. If tourist wants, he can have a drink or wash his face from this water-pipe. Just have to remove branch from the hole. The water in this water-pipe should be from the mountain spring (I hope it is so).

A few hundred meters above I discovered the spring. It is so difficult to refuse a temptation to swim in this stone bath.

After 1.5 hour I reached the Stavri-Kaja rock 663 a.s.l.

Below the Stavri-Kaja path is crossing overhung. Here is Crimean interpretation of Via-ferratas.  If you wish, you can fly over the forest. Seems, someone had such desire or desire came spontaneously to him.

I had Crimea TOPO map in my Garmin, and also great printed map on a scale of 1:50 000. But nevertheless I missed the beginning of the path of Shtangejevskaja. The matter is that on the both maps this path is marked completely wrong. On the screen of Garmin you can see the path marked on the map (by dotted line) and actual path (black line, which appeared during my climbing up). The path is marked approximately 200 m below of its real location!

I found the beginning of the path by the method of exclusion. I did not go to the direction, where is vertical wall or deep bushes. Then it became clear that the path branches from the Botkin path behind one meter high rock. And nothing testified that this is the beginning of a new path.

The following 600 altitude meters to be ascend almost under 45 degrees.

Approximately 1000 m a.s.l. Taraktash rock rises. It is easy to climb up on the dolomites plates, only it is necessary to be careful because they can easily crumble.

On the top of mountain I decided to take a picture on myself hanging on a tree with a background of Yalta. Timer of photo camera worked too fast. Only from the third attempt I managed to run so quickly to jump on the tree.

I ate my summit peach on the top and started my way back to the sea. It is so amazing to be back on the beach in Yalta!

We recommend a great Azerbaijani lamb barbecue and tables by the sea. Twice cheaper than on the promenade and a taste is excellent!

We have decided – we certainly will be back in the Crimea mountains!