Abkhazia in 1 day: excursion to Lake Ritsa

People go to Abkhazia for the sake of natural attractions, the main of which is Lake Ritsa. The road from Gagra passes through the Ricin National Park with mountain rivers, waterfalls, a canyon and observation decks. I went along this route with a guided tour. What is shown and what is served to tourists in the “Land of the Soul”.

Абхазия за 1 день: экскурсия на озеро Рица

Lake Ritsa Abkhazia

How to get to Lake Ritsa

Абхазия за 1 день: экскурсия на озеро Рица

Excursion to Lake Ritsa

Lake Ritsa is located 30 km from the city of Gagra on the territory of the Ricin Relict National Park. Public transport does not go to the national park. You can get here with a guided tour or by car.

The main road to Lake Ritsa is paved, but there are routes that can only be traveled by off-road vehicles. Cars with Russian license plates in Abkhazia are more often stopped and fined, it can be problematic to drive on a narrow road and park near attractions. Locals drive and park as they want.

Entrance to the territory of the Ricin National Park is paid through a checkpoint. Environmental collection: 700 rubles — for an adult, 200 rubles — for a child 8-12 years old.

To enter Abkhazia, you must have a Russian passport or a birth certificate, and cash in rubles for expenses. It is better not to use mobile communication and the Internet from your SIM card in Abkhazia – you are roaming.

Excursions to Lake Ritsa

Абхазия за 1 день: экскурсия на озеро Рица

Guided tours of Abkhazia by minibus, photo: press service of JSC “FPC”

An excursion to Lake Ritsa can be purchased with departure from Sochi or from Gagra. The duration of excursions from Sochi is 12-14 hours, part of which goes on the road and crossing the border, the same route with departure from Gagra takes 7 hours. Excursions starting in Abkhazia are conducted by local guides. The environmental fee and lunch are not included in the price.

The group bus tour “Golden Ring of Abkhazia” includes everything at once at a fast pace. In addition to Lake Ritsa, tourists are taken to Pitsunda and New Athos with mandatory stops for tasting. The advantage of this format is the price. book a group tour

Individual excursions to Lake Ritsa receive good reviews from tourists. With the guide’s car, you can visit places that are not accessible by buses. You need to book an individual tour in advance — the best guides are busy for weeks ahead! choose a guide

I got to Gagra on the Sochi tourist train. The minibus guide picked us up at the station and brought us to the train in the evening. I recommend guided tours of Abkhazia in a mini-group — this is almost an individual format at an affordable price.

Olga about the excursion “An unforgettable trip to Abkhazia in a mini-group”

I recommend a mini-group! A comfortable bus, good company. There is no crush, you can safely take a photo, they are not in a hurry and at the same time you can adjust the time. We had a traffic police driver, these are separate impressions! Cheerful, talks competently, takes professional photos. I recommend you will not regret it! 🙂

Lake Ritsa and the surrounding national park are ideal for a first acquaintance with Abkhazia. The sights of the Ricin National Park are listed in the order they are found on an excursion to Lake Ritsa.

Attractions of the Ricin National Park on the map

The Bzyb River

The first half of the route to Lake Ritsa runs along the Bzyb River. It flows into a gorge surrounded by mountains, flowing into the Black Sea.

Абхазия за 1 день: экскурсия на озеро Рица

The Bzyb Temple

Near the turn from the main highway, the ruins of the Bzyb fortress temple of the IX-X century have been preserved. Climb up the steep wooden stairs.

Абхазия за 1 день: экскурсия на озеро Рица

Suspension bridge over the Bzyb River

In several places, bridges are thrown over the Bzyb — an attraction for tourists. We stopped at one of them. On the suspension bridge, you can take a picture against the background of the flag of Abkhazia or fly over the river on a zip-line, strapped with a carbine.

Waterfall Maiden’s tears

Абхазия за 1 день: экскурсия на озеро Рица

Waterfall Maiden’s tears

You can’t call this place a real waterfall — drops of water flow down a steep wall. The girl’s tears are right next to the road, you can just drive past them slowly. Those who get out of the car tie colored ribbons (sold for 5 pieces for 100 rubles) and make wishes. The guides tell a beautiful legend about love.

Blue Lake

Абхазия за 1 день: экскурсия на озеро Рица

Blue Lake

A small deep lake of karst origin with an area of 180 m2 with turquoise water. You can not swim in the Blue Lake, but they say that if you wash your face with its soft water, you will become younger. Tourists are photographed with a peacock and in national costumes. There is a market nearby where they sell food and souvenirs.

Yupsharsky Canyon (Stone Bag)

Абхазия за 1 день: экскурсия на озеро Рица

Yupsharsky Canyon

The road to Lake Ritsa passes through an 8-kilometer gorge called the Stone Bag. The height of the rocks reaches 400 meters, and the narrowest place is 20 meters wide. It is always cool in the Yupsharsky Canyon, a fairy tale film about Koshchei the Immortal was shot here. All excursions make a stop by the road for photography. There is also a huge “wish stone” that you can climb the stairs or just hug.

The Chabgar ledge is an observation deck overlooking the Yupshar Canyon. The fenced platform overhangs the cliff at an altitude of 300 meters. Due to the congestion of cars, we did not stop here, but just looking out the window made us dizzy. No wonder this place is called “Goodbye, Motherland”.

Waterfall Men’s Tears

Абхазия за 1 день: экскурсия на озеро Рица

Waterfall Men’s Tears

There is a little more water in the waterfall “Men’s tears” than in the girls’ ones. A similar legend and the same colored ribbons. Those who drank the water claim that it is delicious, I have not tried it, but I tied the ribbon.

Lake Ritsa

Абхазия за 1 день: экскурсия на озеро Рица

Observation deck Lake Ritsa

Lake Ritsa or Bolshaya Ritsa is located in the gorges of the Yupshara and Lashipse rivers at an altitude of 950 m above sea level. The largest lake in Abkhazia has a length of 2.5 km, a width of 250-850 m, an average depth of 63 m. The Ritsa is surrounded on all sides by mountains covered with trees. The color of the water in the lake varies depending on the time of year and the place from where you look at it. On Lake Ritsa, you can ride catamarans, swim and even fish.

Абхазия за 1 день: экскурсия на озеро Рица

Lake Ritsa in autumn, photo: press service of JSC “FPC”

The route of standard excursions ends at the first observation deck near Lake Ritsa. This is the epicenter of barbecue cafes and souvenir stalls, tourists are offered to take pictures in national costumes with birds. There is a marina below where you can rent a boat or catamaran.

We had an extended tour where we visited more interesting places. All of them are available by regular car or minibus.

Bird’s Beak Waterfall and observation deck

Абхазия за 1 день: экскурсия на озеро Рица

Bird’s Beak Waterfall

The Bird’s Beak Waterfall is located along the road. Due to falling rocks and trees, it is fenced with a mesh fence. As the guide told us, the water from this spring improves eyesight. We put drinking water in bottles, it turned out to be very tasty.

On the opposite side of the waterfall is the Bird’s Beak observation deck. From here, Lake Ritsa looks very small surrounded by high mountains.

The beach on Lake Ritsa

Абхазия за 1 день: экскурсия на озеро Рица

The beach on Lake Ritsa

The beach on Lake Ritsa is pebbly, wild and that’s its beauty. You can go down to it on a normal road and leave the car in the shade of trees, jeeps drive right up to the water. At the end of September, there were few people on the beach, some were swimming (the water is cool). Picnics with kebabs are organized on the shore.

After the beach, we drove back, but if you continue driving around the lake, then you will meet two more attractions.

Milk Waterfall

Абхазия за 1 день: экскурсия на озеро Рица

Molochny Waterfall, photo: press service of JSC “FPC”

The high and noisy Molochny Waterfall was formed near the confluence of the Vodopadnaya River with Lake Ritsa. The waterfall got its name because of its white color – streams of water overcome steep rapids, boil and foam. The height of the Milk waterfall is 150 meters.

Stalin’s Dacha

Абхазия за 1 день: экскурсия на озеро Рица

Stalin’s dacha on Lake Ritsa, photo: press service of JSC “FPC”

Stalin’s dacha on Lake Ritsa was built in 1947. The leader of the peoples liked to rest on it from August to October. In appearance, it is similar to other Stalinist dachas — an inconspicuous green building with Spartan interiors, an inspection with an excursion of 200 rubles. From the pier, they take a boat ride in 1950.

Wine, cheese and honey tastings

Tastings in Abkhazia are a continuation of exploring the country and an integral part of most excursions. On the way to Lake Ritsa, we stopped at a wine cellar and a honey apiary. I will not advertise specific places — each guide has their own. The tastings are free and do not oblige you to buy anything.

Абхазия за 1 день: экскурсия на озеро Рица

Tasting of Abkhazian wine

In the wine cellar of a hereditary family of Abkhazian winemakers, we were offered to taste several varieties of homemade wine, cognac drink and chacha. Non-drinkers were given pomegranate juice. Most of the local wines are semi-dry. The “Bouquet of Abkhazia” is popular. Drinks are sold in plastic containers and beautiful clay bottles.

Абхазия за 1 день: экскурсия на озеро Рица

Tasting of Abkhazian cheese, photo: press service of JSC “FPC”

Smoked cheese and suluguni were sold nearby, which for many was a good snack after drinking. You try it, you buy it.

Абхазия за 1 день: экскурсия на озеро Рица

Abkhazian mountain honey

To taste the mountain honey, we stopped at the honey yard. In the open area there are hives of original shape with “kind bees” that do not bite. Honey and related products are placed under canopies, the tasting is accompanied by a beekeeper’s story. The prices are high. Many people stop here for pancakes with honey.

Абхазия за 1 день: экскурсия на озеро Рица

The Bzyb River in Abkhazia

We had dinner at the restaurant of the national Abkhazian cuisine. We were sitting on an open veranda overlooking the Bzyb River, eating river trout and shish kebab. In the late afternoon, the Ricin National Park empties, tourists leave and it becomes very quiet.


Абхазия за 1 день: экскурсия на озеро Рица

Gagra railway station

We arrived in Gagra when it was already dark and managed to see only the station building. If you have time left, then take a walk in the Seaside Park. The guide will tell you about the founder of the city, Prince of Oldenburg, show you the Gagra Colonnade, the Gagripsh restaurant and other famous sights of Gagra.

Gagra resort is distinguished by a unique microclimate and a long bathing season. If you want to return to Abkhazia, choose the best hotels in Gagra:


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