One of the most interesting and picturesque areas in Kabardino-Balkaria. A tarmac road links all the towns and villages with main centers in the plain such as Mineralnye Vody and Nalchik.
About 60 km up the valley lies the local administrative centre of Tyrnyauz, a mining town. Here there is small market, a hospital and a few shops.
18 km further lies Vierkhny Baksan village at the confluence of the Baksan, Adyrsu and Kyrtyk rivers. There is a private track up the Adyrsu accessed by a vehicle hoist and only suitable for 4 WD vehicles.
12 km beyond Elbrus village; the Baksan pine forests start here. The village boasts a small shop and post office. Above this point in the valley the main hotels and alpine camps are located. 5 km beyond the village, the Narzan Glade mineral springs attract numerous visitors. Several cafes used to be located here before an avalanche in 1993 destroyed the facilities (now being restored). 3 km beyond the Narzan Glade is the Itkol hotel and sport complex, popular and often full. 1 km up a side valley lies the Cheget hotel, a small market and the Cheget chairlift (which operates year round). This is the main skiing area. Not far beyond Itkol is the last settlement in the valley: Terskol village. The State Rescue Service HQ is located here along with post office, a small drug store, food stores, tourist bases and hotels
The traditional route to the Diesel hut (a mountain hut at 4100m) and Elbrus starts at Terskol; this is initially a road, then a path through the meadows, then screes, and finally snowfields. 4 km after Terskol village at the Azau Glade the road ends by the Elbrus cable car station.
A visit to the beautiful Donguzorun lake is recommended. It is reached easily if the Cheget chairlift is used as far as "cafe Ai" at 2750 m. The higher chairlift station (Cheget-2, 3050 m) offers a fine panorama of Elbrus and the Baksan valley. From Cheget-2 an even better viewpoint (Cheget Karabashi, 3461m) is easily reached walking or on ski in 90 min.
The Donguzorun Pass leads over to Georgia - it is easy and is crossed even by cattle. Check with local authorities before approaching it - border guards may be present and cause difficulties.
A steep, forest path leads to alpine meadows. From here one can go via Yusengi and Rodina passes to the Adylsu and the Shkhelda valleys. South of the meadows lies the popular Becho pass which enters the Doira river valley in Georgia. In autumn 1942 this route was used by 1500 civilians to escape from the Germans when they entered the Baksan valley. Numerous memorials commemorate this event. An ice axe and crampons are useful for the crossing.
Possibly the most popular area for walking and climbing. The valley is extensively forested. The Alpine camps Adylsu, Shkhelda, Elbrus, Jantugan, and the popular campsite "Green Hotel" are located here. On grassy terraces 600m above the valley lie the Turyi lakes, a popular tourist attraction and campsite.
One of the most beautiful in the Elbrus Region. Where this hanging valley joins the Baksan, a huge rocky step is cut by the river through a deep narrow canyon. There are several water rings in the valley.
Another valley which has been used for centuries to cross into Georgia. In its upper half the valley opens out, and the Jailyk and Ullutau alpine camps are located here among beautiful meadows and forests.
Passes lead from this valley to those of the Irik and the Islamchat, also to Jikaugenkioz. In the middle part of the valley there are ruins of ancient buildings and caves containing signs of primitive man.
Passes from this valley lead to those of the upper Kyrtyk and the Mukal across Syltran pass. Near this pass a massive rockfall formed a natural dam which retains Syltran lake. This is the largest of the Elbrus Region lakes; its rocky banks, ice floes, and the surrounding snowy summits are very impressive.