All posts by Tutelar

Following my free wind around the world.

Kabardino-Balkaria: ancient graves, greek temples, Ginggis-khan and kidnapped brides.

To have a better image of the place where I invite all my flying friends to visit at least once in their life – a post about Kabardino-Balkaria and the Gorge of Chegem in particular.


Kabardino-Balkaria is one of the republics on the south of Russia. Its main ethnic group is called Kabardintsy – more than 50% of the populations, followed by Russians and Balkartsy. The most numerous tribe counts its history from VI BC, from the ethnos of Adygy – those mentioned by the authors of the Antique world.

Nazir, my dear friend, in his turn belongs to the group of Balkartsy, representatives of the most ancient native Koban archaeological culture of the Central Caucasus. His ancestors were hunting in these mountains already in XIV-XIII BC.

I won’t get too far into the history of this region but believe me it’s very fascinating. Such a central” location between Asia and Europe attracted here all types of battailous tribes and conquerors, including inglorious Genghis-knan and Tamerlane.

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The flag of the Republic. As you can guess, the mountain in the middle is Elbrus (5642m), the highest mountain of Russia and Caucasus.

Kabardintsy and Balkartsy traditionally have big families and very strong tights between their members. Though, between two ethnos there’s not too much mutual sympathy. I heard the story that a young Balkar woman was prohibited to get married with a Kabardin man. So the latter had to kidnap her. This tradition is very ancient, and my mother still is very preoccupied every time I go to travel around Caucasus. But, honestly speaking, such occasions nowadays happen only from mutual agreement between the enamored. If you ask me, I wouldn’t mind being kidnapped by my beloved man :)


The gorge of Chegem is called after the mountain river and cuts all the  Kabardino-Balkaria in two halves. “The Broken land” – this is how its name might be translated. In the narrowest part of it the waterfalls attract heaps of tourists: Su-Auzu or The throat of water. They break forth from the rocks 50 m above the bottom of the gorge.The legend tells:

One Balkar village was famous for beauty of its young women. Once enemy entered the gorge and enslaved its inhabitants. The girls escaped from their native settlement to the  edge and jumped down to the abyss. While falling, their gorgeous long hair clung to the rocks. This is how the waterfall were born. By the way, they freeze in winter, and I was told it’s a marvellous scenery.

These’re not famous Chegem waterfalls. But around the gorge you’ll find plenty of hidden streams and cascades.

Chegem Paradrom is a walking distance from the Balkar settlement El-Tyubyu (Эл-Тюбю). Some of its houses were built here several centuries ago. The tower of the principles Balkarukov is a monument to a love story. According to the legend, Ahtugang Balkarukov constructed it to protect his lands from the family of Kerime, a woman he kidnapped in Dagestan (another Russian republic). But the Middle Age is not the most ancient period of time that remembers the Gorge of Chegem. Not far from the village the Greek temples cut in rock massifs are found. There locals hid themselves from numerous conquerors passing through the gorge.


Dead of ancient times still stay around the lively village. A bit up the hill – and I’m surrounded by mausoleums – dolmeny, how they are called here. Estimated X-XII centuries.


And the last fact to leave you interested: not far from El-Tyubyu the abnormal zone was found. Kum-Tyube, “sandy hill”, a volcanic massif, is notorious for mysterious events happening around it….

Well, there’ll be something to do there in a rainy day, don’t you think? :)


As I mentioned in the previous post devoted to the Chegem Paradrom and paragliding, it’s possible to make a cross to Elbrus from the Gorge of Chegem. I haven’t done that but I summited this mountain through its Northern face (the opposite side of Kabardino-Balkaria). On foot :) So my next post will be about that – I hope you’ll be interested :)


The skies of my Motherland

It’s been a while I didn’t write to my blog but kept wandering the world. My life has changed when I learnt the art to fly – PARAGLIDING. Since then, me and my Independence Dragon have been to many amazing corners and would love to tell about them to everyone! :)

Recently back from Caucasus, in my electronic box I’ve found an e-mail from National Geographyc – an invitation for another photo-contest named «From Above». I’m quite skeptical about my own chances to attract attention in the community, where there’re so many professional photographers, but still – I sent a couple of my photos. Couldn’t but send when I look from above on the land of such an incredible beauty!

“From Above”

This is Kabardino-Balkaria, the republic on the south of my Motherland and the most beautiful spot I’ve ever flown!


Honestly speaking, my breath stopped when I saw the Chegem gorge from above!
Already from Saint-Petersburg I called to Nazir Bashtakov, “chief” of the Paradrom Chegem. He and Marat – the chief of the second younger base – generous hosts, who receive pilots and people who come there to fly tandem.


Nazir, thank you so much for your hospitality! These were fantastic, beautiful, generous and inspiring days! Nazir offer a couple of containers-hostels with beds and warm blankets – like at home. If you wish it’s possible to camp, there’s lots of place for that. “The base” has a shower, a kitchen and a dining room under the roof. And a place for barbeque.

A place in the container is 300 rub. per night. The menu is combined of all the traditional Caucasian dishes – home-made and very reasonable priced. Sofyad, Nazir’s wife, cooks them right there, on the little kitchen of the camping ground.


I was in Chegem at the beginning of August, and the morning we spent waiting – for valley breeze to set. As soon as the flags were waving actively enough, we were leaving for the start. It’s not far on foot, if lucky – a car with tandem passengers might give a lift.

The plateau behind
The plateau behind “The Triangle”

Flights: thermodynamic. Two take-offs – the lower «cucamber» and the upper one. Altitude of the take-off – about 1600m, 170m about the landing. Coordinates of the take-off: N 43° 17′ 27” E 43° 10′ 12”


The first step – to gain altitude in the dynamics of the valley breeze along the “shovels” of the mountain Zinki. Then more variants emerge. For example,

  • head to the “Triangule”, where normally it’s not hard to find a “duty termal”. After reaching the summit – to the neighbor watershed, where it’s already much easier to gain altitude. From there – feel free to try a cross along the spurs of the Greater Caucasus.
  • head to “the red rocks”. They face west, so they need time to warm up in the morning. If to grab luck to gain altitude, it’s possible to aim at His Majesty Elbrus – the highest summit of Russia and Europe (5642m) – according to some versions. Nevertheless, attention – the currents of air on “the red rocks” are capricious.


The cloud ceiling in a clear day is more than 4000m.

After midday clouds arrive. Rain doesn’t happen every day though. Even if comes, the pilots fly almost till the first drops.
What a view from above – words can’t express! Snowy shiny slopes of the Greater Caucasus, enormous rocky plateau, villages in the depth of the valley stretching to Georgia. By the way, the border is not far.


How to get there: the closest big city – Nalchik, it’s easy to get there from any Caucasian city. From Nalchik at 17.00 every day public bus to Bulungu leaves. We’re going 75 km from Nalchik, 16 km on a dirt road after the touristic Chegem waterfalls. Hop off on the stop Paradrom – have to ask the driver in advance, and from there to the Paradrom the dirt road goes. The base of Nazir is in the depth of the gorge, the last one.

TO BE CONTINUED… (In the next post  I’ll tell a bit more about this piece of land – about hot-blooded tribes, ancient graves, wonders of nature and local legends)


Parati: on a Trail of Gold

– I lived in Rio for five years. Then moved to Paraty.

– Do you like it more than Rio?

– Of course. It’s so relaxed here…

That’s Umberto, a driver that gave us lift on the coastal road BR101. I met him again while strolling around charming evening Paraty, soaking up its music, its soft light, its slow pace.

– Francesco is a painter. He’s working now. Go, have a look at his picture.

Francesco is submerged into inspiration and creativity but gladly greets me, when I emerge at his side.

– What’s that?

– It’s a naked woman, doing “shi-shi”.

I see…

The word Parati, synonym for cachaça, gave name to the city, which grew on a trade way Caminho de Ouro (Trail of Gold). It still brings money, the trail to Paraty but for now from tourism.


Little cute monkeys dine on bananas.
Little cute monkeys dine on bananas.

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Paraty is surrounded by jungles of Southern Brazil, always wet and foggy.
Paraty is surrounded by jungles of Southern Brazil, always wet and foggy.

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They say there’s nature in Rio-de-Janeiro!

– I love nature. It doesn’t bore me. It surprises. Always

– Here’s nature, right in front of you (with a wide gesture pointing to the Atlantic swell, dotted with popping heads of people in a wave foam and a dark-skinned “gondolier”, without rush rowing on his surf board in direction of Barra da Tijuca…)

Reminded me… “They say there’s nature on the Brighton beach!” (“Madagascar”)

That was yesterday, when right after arrival me and my new acquaintances were killing time on the Ipanema beach.

– What do people do on a beach? I have no idea…

– There’re lot’s of things… like digging neighbor’s feet in sand, for example…

– That I see… what else?

…I don’t know…

That’s why today I head to Jardin Botanico (Botanic Garden). There’s nature there and there’s definitely something to do.


Dry leaves are gliding on me from above, scratching my skin. Here they die not because of luck of sun, but of its abundance. It ruthlessly dries me out too. Because I’m also here, in Brazil.


To the right of me – completely naked giant. Unfortunately, he’s not a man. He’s a tree. Perhaps, it feels hot too, that’s why undressed.

Green birds, looking like parrots, are fighting on flight and crying loudly. Louder than parrots are only school boys, who came here with a tour.



This little guy could make nervous a ballet dancer - so graceful!
This little guy could make nervous a ballet dancer – so graceful!


Flowers smell amazingly! But are so heavy that very soon fall down to the soil.
Flowers smell amazingly! But are so heavy that very soon fall down to the soil.

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Orchids were used by witches to prepare "love spells"
Orchids were used by witches to prepare “love spells”


Jaka - very smelly and very tasty fruit.
Jaka – very smelly and very tasty fruit.
Palm leaf
Palm leaf

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And those water plants reach 2m wide and can carry 45 kilos easily.
And those water plants reach 2m wide and can carry 45 kilos easily.

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I’m back! Back… to Rio : )

…And the fog swallowed us. I felt like a hedgehog in the mist (google Soviet cartoons).

YozhikThat fog was my welcome back to Rio de Janeiro, the first thing I saw landing in its national airport this morning.

This time I came not only for Brazil but for other five or six South American countries. In two days my friend arrives, and we set about several hitch-hiking journey around the continent. Yes, that’s what I promised you before my previous trip. And I keep my word : )

All in all, there’s no certain plan. There’s road. There’s hot sun. There’s song. And wind (hopefully!). And we follow them. Where we will end up – let’s see all together.

And as aperitif… no, not the Christ Redeemer statue on Corcovado hill… Copacabana is also a wrong guess… well, for the starter – a portion of Brazilian street art. This time – from RIo-de-Janeiro!

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Be nice with Brazilian women!

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Random doors of Rio.
Random doors of Rio.
Real and imaginary Rio exist side by side.
Real and imaginary Rio exist side by side.
In Lapa, artistic and touristic center. Behind musicians - Lapa's famous arches.
In Lapa, artistic and touristic center. Behind musicians – Lapa’s famous arches.
And this is how a stair way to Heaven looks like. Rio style.
And this is how a stair way to Heaven looks like. Rio style.
This is probably what every Brazilian dreams about in rare minutes free from wild parties : )
This is probably what every Brazilian dreams about in rare minutes free from wild parties : )
And this is what I dream about. No matter when.
And this is what I dream about. No matter when.
Ugly truth on ceramics.
Ugly truth on ceramics.

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This one is my favourite – in Lapa.
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The crazy party people wait for you right after the Lapa arches.

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Ordem e progresso.
Ordem e progresso.

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“Pearls” of Brazilian street art

In Brazilian cities it’s possible to find real “pearls” of street art. And, although wandering though yards and narrow streets can be dangerous, some pieces of art we’ve found are really worth being discovered. Especially if you are accompanied by a local friend : ) These’re pieces of the capital of the state Bahia, Salvador.

Cute Kuza lives on a wall of a coastal road in Salvador.
Mosaic is not rare on walls of the city.
Full car of love : )
Cheerful road creatures. They live on a market on the square 2 de Julio too.

Social art: If a field is not planted, the city doesn’t dine.

This guy is a famous street artists in Salvador. Don’t remember his name, I guess the surname is Eden. But I really like his works.
Had an idea that someone tried to copy the previous artist…

This cool cow stays in Pelorinho, on Praca da Se.

Sculpture in a park of MAM (Museo de Arte Moderna).
People come to MAM park for rest. View on a sunset is one of the best in Salvador there. And every Saturday jazz concerts are held.
My favourite guy : ) The note under the sculpture says: “Abraço” – “I hug you”. If to look more thoroughly, he doesn’t desire just to hug, but to kiss too : )
After 20 minuted spent there with this hospitable creature, I started to feel that he’s beautiful too in his own way…

Beautiful dream

– I’m so jealous of losing you to this world you want so badly.

Smoke in Alps.
Sunrise in Atlantic ocean.

To possess and not be able to embrace, to admire from a distance, being a part of it. Perfect harmony and painful craving hand in hand. Isn’t that what happiness is: to desire the most what we do possess…

The shore of Norway.
Sunset in a desert Namib.

– Each time I cross the border, I lose illusions. And I move further and further in search of home.

Islands of Abrolhos, Brazil

Leaving pieces of my heart on my way, one day I won’t have any for myself. And then I will repeat my journey to collect them back…

In search of happiness that is already mine.