Independent Travel to South Ossetia
Alongside the Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics, South Ossetia is amongst the youngest breakaway states in the world. In 2008, the region was the site of a brutal 5 day war between Russia and Georgia known as the Russo-Georgia war. Since then, the border with Georgia is sealed and the only way to enter is through the Caucasus mountains on the Russian border. South Ossetia is a paradise for adventure travellers being one of the least visited republics on earth due to the difficulty of entering. Luckily, YPT can guarantee entry into the republic and obtain permits fast.
South Ossetia has found a place in the hearts of YPT Soviet Europe, as the countries of the South Caucasus region are slowly being enveloped by mainstream tourism, South Ossetia is a bastion of how the Caucasus used to be, with ancient traditions, beautiful food and warm, hospitable locals.
Tour guides in South Ossetia
Our team in South Ossetia are highly connected through the country and can arrange anything with ease. Our team knows all of the hidden sights from war ravaged ghost towns to forgotten ancient monasteries and pagan sites nestled deep in the Caucasus mountains. You will be picked up in jeeps bearing government plates and will be taken care of throughout your trip.
Hotels in South Ossetia
In the capital city of Tskhinvali there are only two hotels, the original Soviet Intourist hotel which is only 30% reconstructed since the war raged right past it in 2008 and tanks were blown up outside it. The rooms are of a Soviet comfort level provided you don’t mind the odd bullet hole or power cut. The other option is the official accommodation for the national football team with more luxury rooms and breakfast.
Specialist Private Tours to South Ossetia
For those with a specialist interest in breakaway states and the Republic of South Ossetia, we can arrange private independent tours throughout the year for any length of time. The tour can begin in Moscow or Vladikavkaz and can also include trips to other parts of the North Caucasus such as Ingushetia, Chechnya and Dagestan. You will be joined by a YPT representative and accompanied by our local team in South Ossetia focusing on specific areas of your interest. We can arrange trips across the entire country and in the past have arranged specialist trips focusing on ancient monasteries, war history, political history, cultural trips and Paganistic history.
Join a Group Tour to South Ossetia
Each year, Young Pioneer Tours operate two South Ossetia group tours throughout the year at an unbeatable price. The first as part of our all breakaway states tour and the second is our annual South Ossetia National Day tour taking in the awe inspiring military parade and independence celebrations. Beginning in Moscow or Vladikavkaz and taking in all the main sights of the republic including many hidden spots, meeting locals and getting an in depth view of this fascinating breakaway country.
Read more here about our experiences of travel in South Ossetia
For an in depth FAQ sheet about South Ossetia, click here.
What are you waiting for?
Get in contact with us today to begin planning your dream trip to South Ossetia.
For film projects inside the republic, check out Pioneer Media, who can assist you with a variety of on-set services.
Sample South Ossetia Itinerary:
Day 1 – 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.
Day 2 – 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.
Day 3 – 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.
Day 4 – 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
Day 5 – 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 Tskhinvali’ 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
Day 6 – Tskhinvali
- 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 visit the only souvenir shop and the national museum followed by the old town of Tskhinvali, 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.
- Free time in the evening
- We’ll meet up in the evening to have dinner.
- Overnight in Tskhinvali.
Day 7 – Leningor
- Early start and breakfast in Tskhinvali
- We’ll 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 Tskhinvali.
Day 8 – Vladikavkaz
- Breakfast and free morning in Tskhinvali 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!