During a month-long stay in Vladikavkaz, I went on 4 trips with the Your Height club. I wrote about the first two trips earlier – Climbing Mount Kai-hokh in North Ossetia and Trip to the Tsmiakom Gorge for rhododendrons in bloom .
In this article I will tell you about my third trip – a visit to Kabardino-Balkaria, namely the Chegem waterfalls, the Aktoprak pass and Lake Gizhgit (Bylym).
Parking near Adai-Su
We left Vladikavkaz at 7:30 in the morning, and after 3 hours we reached our first point of the route – the Small Chegem waterfall. Its second name is the Adai-Su waterfall. I was lucky, at some point I was alone at the waterfall, no one interfered. It turned out to take a photo without people and stand under it very close. In total, we spent 40 minutes here and went to other waterfalls.
Adai-Su waterfall, June 2022
Approximately 8.5 kilometers from Adai-Su is the second Main group of Chegem waterfalls. In terms of entertainment, they are inferior to the Small, but they win in terms of location – as they are located in a narrow, long gorge. If it weren’t for the merchants who littered the entire gorge with their cafes, stalls and goods, this place could be very photogenic.
Chegem Gorge, June 2022
Chegem waterfalls, June 2022
Chegem gorge and waterfalls, June 2022
We spent two hours here – during this time we saw all the waterfalls and had lunch. I wrote a separate post about visiting the Chegem waterfalls – you can read it here.
The Chegem waterfalls are on the way to the pass, so they are included in this trip. This is a good starting point when traveling through the pass – here you can have lunch, go to the toilet and buy something to eat on the road.
At 12:30 we went further, to the most interesting part of this route – the 22-kilometer Aktoprak pass. Leaving the gorge, gorgeous alpine landscapes opened before us. I just went nuts from the beauty of the surrounding landscapes on both sides of the road. On the one hand there were high rocky mountains, on the other – mountains and hills overgrown with all kinds of plants, flowers and coniferous trees. Wild horses were grazing on the slopes.
We had only two stops. The first – 45 minutes after departure, the second in an hour. Each stop is approximately 20-30 minutes
Our first stop:
Aktoprak pass dirt road
Aktoprak pass, nature
Aktoprak pass, landscapes
Aktoprak pass, June
Aktoprak pass, June 2022
Trip through Aktoprak pass, June 2022
Aktoprak pass, Kabardino-Balkaria
Aktoprak pass, wild horses
Aktoprak pass, plants
Our second stop:
Aktoprak pass,  ;alpine meadows
Aktoprak pass, second stop
Alpine meadows of Aktoprak pass
Alpine meadows of the Aktoprak pass, June
Alpine meadows of Aktoprak pass, June 2022
Alpine meadows of the Aktoprak pass, June 22
landscapes of Aktoprak pass
landscapes of the Aktoprak pass
Flower world of Aktoprak pass
Of course, if I were by car, my stops would be every 5-10 minutes. I honestly have never seen such unforgettable landscapes. Before that, I thought that the nature of North Ossetia ranks first in beauty in my heart, but after a trip here, I still admit that the mountains of Kabardino-Balkaria are still more beautiful for me ..
The most ideal option for visiting the Aktoprak pass is to go here by car on your own or by taking an individual tour. Then you will not depend on the group, and will be able to stay where you want and spend time at your discretion. Next year I will definitely come here, and I will do just that.
In total, we spent a little more than three hours on the pass, and drove further, to the last point of our route – the turquoise mountain lake Gizhgit (Bylymskoye Lake or Bylym).
We arrived at the shore of Lake Bylym at 15:50. There are two main platforms – at the bottom there is a stable with horses, a cafe and a free toilet, and at the top there is a natural observation deck with gorgeous views of the lake and the surrounding area.
Horseback riding on the lake to Lake Gizhgit
shore of Bylymskoye Lake
There is not much to do below, since you cannot swim in the lake. It is believed that the water in it is poisonous, due to the fact that toxic and poisonous waste from the Tyrnyauz production (tungsten and molybdenum mining) was poured into this artificial reservoir. It is said that toxic dust still settles on the banks of this reservoir, the water of which has a turquoise-acid hue. Nevertheless, reed thickets and frogs are found here. Probably, only a chemical examination, which has not yet been reported, will be able to make a final verdict on its environmental friendliness.
View of Lake Gizhgit from the observation deck
View of Lake Bylym from the observation deck
Dangerous road along the edge of Lake Gizhgit
Panorama of Bylymskoye Lake
A dangerous narrow dirt single-lane road leads to the observation deck, along which it is best to carefully climb in an off-road vehicle. It was scary to ride a GAZelle, it seemed that it was about to fall down. In 2017, on this road, a Chevrolet Niva with five people fell into Lake Gizhgit. Three of them died. That is, the danger here is quite real.
Upstairs there is a gazebo and places for cars. For most tourists, this is the end point here. I climbed a little higher by 300 meters, from where a wonderful view of the observation deck, the lake & nbsp; surrounding high rocky mountains.
Observation deck of Gizhgit lake
Observation deck of Gizhgit lake , top view
We spent about an hour here and drove back to Vladikavkaz. They returned to Ossetia no longer through the pass, but along another faster road. The way back took about three hours.
A trip to the Tsmiakom Gorge for rhododendrons in bloom
Climbing Mount Kai-Khokh in North Ossetia
Chegemsky waterfalls – what to see, and is it worth going here at all?