“Holidays in Dagestan made a double impression. Yes, there is beautiful (very!) nature here, there is a tourist infrastructure, but, whatever one may say, it is almost a different country, with its own traditions and customs. I have a lot of travel experience, and Dagestan reminded me of Turkey, when tourism was just emerging there. Only here in Turkey they could glance, but they ignored it more, but here everyone considers it his duty to express his position to you personally.” About the attitude of local residents to tourists and about the region itself – in the review of the reader of “Subtleties” under the nickname Elena_G.
How we are treated
You can be reprimanded if you are in short shorts, or if you have tattoos, and absolutely any passer-by. Drinking alcohol in a cafe is also not welcome – you will catch a lot of sidelong glances. But why are they selling it here? You can swim in a bathing suit, but you can’t. It's very annoying to have these unspoken rules. However, the indifference and attention of local residents to everything that happens around has also positive aspects. I have never met so many people willing to help. We stopped at the roadside in the mountains to take a few photos, and every (I'm not kidding!), every car passing by us stopped and people asked if everything was fine, if they needed help. Maybe the tourist office will prepare some kind of memo for tourists, draw up clear rules so that everything is clear, and local residents and tourists can exist in harmony with each other. All problems due to miscommunication.1
You can be reprimanded if you are in short shorts, or if you have tattoos, and absolutely any passer-by.
Order and order again
The Caspian Sea is wonderful, warm – but the entire coast is littered with garbage. This is a big problem in the republic, especially around sights and canyons. The situation can be improved by equipping special places for recreation, as people (both locals and tourists) arrange picnics wherever they have to. There are no prohibitions, even in the nature protection zone, here.
In my opinion, Dagestan lacks organization.
It seems that today this is one of the most popular travel destinations, but the local administration is not entirely aware of what to do with such sudden happiness. I am not an expert, I am an ordinary tourist, and, perhaps, going on a trip, I should have become better acquainted with the traditions of this region, but this will not solve the problem as a whole.
For example, we went to a restaurant, ordered dinner and wine, it was on the menu. The waiter clearly explained that it was not customary to openly demonstrate alcohol here. You do not put wine on the table, but put it on a special table next to the table (which is at the level of the chair). We understood that everyone is happy.1
/1 About the pros
There are many pluses. For example, delicious cuisine: in any cafe, even the most nondescript at first glance, they cook excellent food. The meat here is simply excellent, I even tasted the lamb, although I always didn’t like it very much. The prices are very democratic.
Excursions are wonderful. We visited Naryn-Kala Fortress, Sulak Canyon, Sarykum Dune (White Sun of the Desert was filmed there), the Fortress of Seven Brothers and One Sister, saw the Caspian Monster (a huge experimental ekranoplan of Soviet times). In many places excursions can be taken on the spot.
In any, even the most ordinary-looking cafe at first glance, they cook excellent food.
There are no problems with housing, there are wonderful houses for rent and hotels. The service, of course, is rather weak, but the prices are very low. It makes little sense to live in one hotel for the entire vacation: it will be boring. I advise you to choose several hotels along the route.1
/1 What else to read on the topic
Freestyle wrestling, contented lads: a guide to Dagestan
11 reasons never to come to Dagestan
In cafes and markets we were often treated for free – sincerely and without expecting something in return: vacation in Dagestan in the spring of 2022
With traffic, everything is bad, there are very few signs and traffic lights. The problem is not even in the driving style of some local scorchers. Here, even on a completely empty road, driving is not very comfortable. There are not enough recreation areas and pockets for parking on mountain roads, there are no signs showing how far it is to the nearest settlement, so many motorists stop where they have to. Here it is necessary to solve the problem at the state level, explanations and reminders are indispensable.
The best option for visiting Dagestan, it seems to me, today would be an organized tour with a program. Independent travelers may encounter the problems that I wrote about above. I hope that the situation will change for the better soon: tourists are coming, there are investments, prospects and potential too. 1