Abkhazia

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Flag of Abkhazia Abkhazia
Information
Language: Abkhaz, Russian, Armenian
Capital: Sukhumi
Population: ~200,000
Currency: Russian ruble
Hitchability: Verygood.png (very good)
More info: AVP Free Encyclopedia (Russian)
Meet fellow hitchhikers on Trustroots
Abkhazia detail map2.png

Abkhazia is a de facto independent state on the eastern coast of the Black Sea and the south-western flank of the Caucasus. The country is recognised only by a few states, including Russia. Western governments declared it as occupied by Russia, but you barely will see any of the Russian peacekeepers at all.

Abkhazia was part of the Georgian SSR during Soviet times and most countries and the United Nations still consider it as a part of Georgia. Entering Abkhazia is illegal according to Georgian law. That's why travelling from Russia via Abkhazia to Georgia is curently not possible or connected with quite some difficulties for holders of non CIS-passports (July 2011).

Hitchhiking

Hitchhiking in Abkhazia is definitely easy. It is recommended to read the E97 article for specific information on hitchhiking in Abkhazia. Be aware that off the main road, especially in the southern districts, traffic can get very sparse.

Abkhaz drivers love to drive very fast, be aware of that and get out whenever you're afraid of crashing into roaming cows or horses along the way. Abkhaz police is very friendly in general, don't be afraid to hitchhike next to their police posts. Nevertheless, hitchhiking is possible everywhere, even inside the capital, and you won't wait long at all (most times, platschi had no chance to even put his backpack off his shoulders).

Redjo27: I went to Abkhazia in summer 2015 (which is tourist season) and I can say, that I had my worst hitchhiking experiences with locals there. They were shouting bad things, showing the middle finger and of course this had happened in other parts of the world as well, but not as often as in Abkhazia. Nearly everyone who stopped wanted money and one guy even a blow-job. I don't want to advice against going to Abkhazia, but I can just disagree about hitchhiking being easy in Abkhazia.

Cities

  • Gagra (Abkhaz and Russian: Гагра; Georgian: გაგრა)
  • New Athos (Abkhaz: Афон Ҿыц, Afon Ch'yts; Georgian: ახალი ათონი, Akhali Atoni; Russian: Новый Афон, Novy Afon)
  • Pitsunda (Abkhaz: Пиҵунда, Georgian: ბიჭვინთა, Bichvinta; Russian: Пицунда)
  • Sukhum (Abkhaz: Аҟəа Aqwa, Georgian: სოხუმი, Russian: Сухуми)
  • Gali

Entry Permit

Holders of CIS passports can enter Abkhazia without any obligations, whereas each other traveller has to get an entry permit and a visa on the spot in Sukhum. You can apply for an entry permit letter online. Platschi got his entry permit within two working days in June 2011. Afterwards, you have to get your visa at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Sukhum. Note, that guards won't let you into the building if you are wearing shorts. Price in 2011 was 20 USD (1 month tourist visa), to be payed beforehand in Rouble at a local bank or from 2012 you can pay in the ministry building. They don't stick the visa into your passport, but if you do so yourself, you won't be able to visit Georgia another time.

Sleeping

Abkhazians are in general extremely hospitable, so you won't have a hard time finding places to sleep there. Anyway, you can pitch your tent everywhere you want, just make sure not to be visible from the roads if you don't want to have plenty of friendly visitors caring about your safety. Next to that, in the Northern districts many people rent their rooms to tourists for about 200-300 Rouble.

Transit

towards Georgia

Traveling from Russia towards Georgia is currently (April 2012) not possible. Georgians will not let you in, if they let you in it would mean that have entered Georgia illegaly, according to Georgian law (Georgians did not check your passport on the border with Russia).

towards Russia

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia "transit from Georgia through Abkhazia to Russia is forbidden. You can only enter and back" (December 2010). Keep in mind though that you won't get an exit stamp by the Georgians in case of leaving to Russia, thus when entering Georgia another time, you'll most likely be not able to enter the country due to a missing exit stamp from the last time.

Nevertheless, as of April 2012 it was still possible to enter to Russia after coming from Georgia. User Rozwal asked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs whether he could go to Russia and was informed that Abkhazia is not a transit country and that it was not allowed. He tried anyway and without any problem and any questions asked he entered to Adler in Russia.

  • Rozwal: I really could not understand the whole deal with crossing to Russia. Literally every person in Abkhazia told me that it was not possible but on LonelyPlanet I found a lot of relations from people that did it. I went and I did it. However, maybe if they asked me if I came from Georgia and I confirmed they would not let me out? In my passport it is not possible to see whether I came from Russia or Georgia since neither of them give you stamps (Georgians do not give you stamps when you go to Abkhazia, Abkhazians do not give you stamps at all, and Russians do not give stamps at border with Abkhazia). So maybe they just assumed that I came from Russia and that's it? It is hard to say though. Anyway, after you cross to Russia after coming from Georgia, next time you come to Georgia, you are going to go to court and possibly to jail. As of July 2013, they are still working on changing the law to make it just a fine. But this is still not done. Good luck!

Money

There are only few ATMs in Abkhazia (mostly in the capital), so make sure to bring some cash with you. The official currency is the Russian Rouble, but you can exchange US Dollars and Euros in most towns.

Links