Few years ago I discovered in my grandfather’s papers an old letter sent to him by one of his cousins, he was depicting his trip to Moscow and the little visit he paid to the city where he was born… Nalchik. This was my first time to hear about Nalchik, I ‘ve always thought that the city from where my great grandfather came from was Cherkessk. But now as I found out that my grandfather’s cousin was born in Nalchik, and that he actually met in the 1960’s some of his family members who recognized him, perhaps it was Nalchik after all.
Another fact that might make me a Nalchik descendant is that my family is one of the Kabardine (القبارطاي), and Nalchik is the capital of Kabardino-Balkar Republic, one of the republics in the Russian Federation that has a major Adyghe population, along with Karachay-Cherkess Republic and The Republic of Adygea).
Nalchik seems to be a quiet city, even though it is close to the troubled border line between Russia and Georgia. Yet it faced a crisis in 13 October 2005 when a group of armed men tried to take over the city and attacked policemen and army headquarters. The Russian special forces intervened, and life returned to normal after only a couple of days.
I was happy to discover on Tripadvisor.com some interesting info and tips about the city. I also found in the forum of TripAdvisor.com the message of an English guy (Chris) who travelled to Nalchik last year, and created a website talking about his trip.
Nalchik airport can be reached either from Moscow Vnukovo airport (daily flights, taking around 2 h), or from Istanbul (many weekly charter). Or as an alternative, there is Mineralnye Vody Airport, which is more important and has direct flights with West Europe, and it’s only 1 h and half from Nalchik.
Tripadvisor.com also posted reviews of 2 hotels there: Grand Caucasus and Sindica Intour hotel (not exactly reviews, but at least pictures and essential info).
Nalchik lies in the middle of the Greater Caucasus mountain chain, one of these is Mount Elbrus, (a dormant volcano for the past 2,000 years ), it is the highest mountain in the Caucasus, its west summit “Mt. Elbrus” stands at 5,642 metres and it is the highest mountain in Europe. Obviously mountaineering and skiing are popular activities especially in CHEGET and ELBRUS. Chris described how it was, he mentioned that “it was very mild in the sunshine at base level but up towards the peak the temperature dipped to minus double figures with gusts unleashing the powdery snow like a sand storm.”
A final advice from Tripadvisor.com: “Nalchik city in itself does not have that much to offer. It is a nice and friendly town and a convenient base to explore the region. Safe, green and restful, Nalchik is certainly the town of choice for a stopover if you happen to be in the North Caucasus. In other words, It is worth a detour but, by itself, does not justify a trip from West Europe or from Moscow.”
P.S. you can find more interesting photos of Nalchik in the tourism official website.