Bolshoy Thach natural park, Adygea

Bolshoy Thach nature park is situated in Adygea Republic, near the border with Krasnodar-Krai in the Western Caucasus mountains.

It is part of the Main Caucasus ridge and it’s characterized by limestone massifs and sub-alpine and alpine vegetation.  The limestone is extremely diverse in geological terms, as it used to be coral reef on the bottom of the sea 70 million years ago.

Gagra beautiful ghost city – Abkhazia

* Abkhazia is a disputed region, officially part of Georgia but under Russian military control. The state is recognized by Russia and a handful of small countries. More on Abkhazia conflict here *

Gagra is a coastal resort city on the Black sea coastline, situated below thick forests running up the foothills of the Gagra Mountains (of the Great Caucasus mountains). It is located 60 km from Sochi, spot of the 2014 Olympic Games.

In 1989, Abkhazia had a population of 525.000. people – with 48% Georgians, 17% Abkhazians and other minorities (Russians, Armenians, Greeks).

In 1991, following the collapse of Soviet Union and the independence declaration of Georgia – Abkhazians, backed by Russian forces, fought to separate Abkhazia from Georgia. During the 1991-1994 war – up to 15.000 Georgians were “ethnically cleansed” (read more CNN.com)  and 200.000-250.000 were permanently displaced.  Armenians, Greeks, Russians and moderate Abkhaz were also killed.

As a consequence, numerous villages and towns in Abkhazia were virtually emptied of its population (including Gagra), leaving behind “ghost cities”.