Hello to all ski and snowboard lovers! We continue a series of articles about ski holidays in Russia. We have already published a large author's text about the mountain resorts of Adler, but Krasnaya Polyana in winter is something rich. Therefore, we are exploring other, more budgetary (and sometimes “exotic”) directions.
Our next hero is the Dombay ski resort in the 2022-2023 season. It is usually chosen for the huge number of trails available for beginners. Our author Dasha, who went to Dombai with a modest skiing experience and a great desire to learn, will help confirm this (or criticize it).
How did we get to Dombai? Transport
Where is Dombay located? The Dombay ski resort is located among the Caucasus Mountains in Karachay-Cherkessia.
How to get there?The nearest airport is Mineralnye Vody. This is the country's main “ski” airport after Adler: it is from here that cars leave for Elbrus, Dombay and Arkhyz. We flew by plane from Moscow. The flight from the capital is short (3.5 hours), but the distance from the airport to the hotel is decent. For example, a transfer to Dombay by car, into which you can load several snowboards or skis (and for some reason all skiers have a mania to ride together), takes at least 3 hours. Add to that the unstable weather conditions in the mountains.
How much does it cost?The airlines Pobeda, S7 and Ural Airlines fly more often along the route. If you take tickets in advance, you can buy at a very good price of 5000-6000 rubles round-trip (yes, for the most seasonal dates). But if you are going to ride with your good, you need to pay extra for carrying oversized luggage. The fare is affordable — 3,000 rubles, and all bulky equipment fits perfectly into the snowboard bag.
Where can I book a transfer?There is no direct public transport to the resort, you need to change several minibuses and a bus. This is generally the norm for the Caucasus. The surest way is to book a transfer in advance.
Local drivers have their own fees for skiing, and it’s more profitable to get to your destination by pooling. You can find a car right at the airport, but we don’t really like this way (with all the equipment on hand). Therefore, we booked a transfer from the hotel in advance, where we decided to stay in Dombay (3 * National). The approximate cost is 5000 rubles per car. On the way, the driver will probably talk about Karachay-Cherkessia and from time to time repeat that the best guide is his close relative :) I noticed that the locals are happy to suggest what to see in Dombai – they love their region very much.
< h2>Prices for hotels and apartments in Dombay — 2022
Where to stay at the resort and what are the prices in Dombai in 2022 for accommodation?
In the village of Dombay, they stay either in a hotel or in private apartments. The main determining criterion, in my opinion, is the proximity to the slopes. The closer you live to the ski lifts, the less you have to carry gear. Given the weight of everything – and especially the ease of movement in ski boots – trust me, this point is not to be underestimated. Accordingly, housing prices in Dombay also depend on the proximity to the highway.
Brew yourself cocoa in the kitchen or cook noodle soup, of course, is priceless (these are the advantages of the apartment). But hotels are often convenient in that they cook – simple – breakfasts and have rooms with special drying for equipment. And if they can undermine and paraffin the boards there … it’s simply divine.
Which is very importantwhen planning a skiing holiday: it is advisable to do this very early. Ideally, a December trip should be organized no later than October (and preferably even earlier). The closer the season, the faster the empty places* in hotels near the highways are melting, and the prices in Dombay for the private sector are rising. In this regard, any skiing is a rather predatory thing: didn’t you think in advance? well, good luck.
I am editing this text in early December, monitoring hotels according to the recommendations below – there are no places at all. But there is a lot of private housing.
- Hotels, hotels, hostels in Dombay are booked on Ostrovka or Yandex.Travel (now instead of Booking).
- Apartments, rooms, houses – on Daily (guess instead of which service? instead of airbnb)
The logic of Dombay pricing on the example of the most popular hotels among skiers:
- 3* Onset – a night during the January holidays costs 11,000 rubles, after – already 6,000 rubles.
- 3* Taulu — on holidays, a night in a standard room costs 12,000 rubles, a week later — 6,000 rubles.
My observation: during the January holidays, the cost of staying in hotels is much higher than a week later. And when you come in the summer, a hotel in Dombai will cost three times cheaper (but this, of course, goes against the idea of snowboarding).
Hotel prices in Dombai in 2022 year:
|For January||After January< /td>||In February-March|
|Guest house||8000 rubles||3500 rubles||3500 rubles|
|3-star hotel||10 000 rubles||4000 rubles||4000 rubles|
|Apartment||13 000 rubles||4000 rubles||3000 rubles|
If you choose apartments, then, as can be seen from the table, in the season with them the same story. You can find relatively inexpensive accommodation on holidays from 6,000 rubles per day, but this is a rarity. The real price tag is 13–15,000 rubles per night. Thank you that such apartments are at least designed for 4–5 people (another plus for the company).
My friends and I chose the National Hotel to stay. The location is good, Dombai cable cars are 10 minutes walk. Quite budget (as far as possible for skiing), with breakfast it cost us 6,000 rubles a day. The hotel is not bad, no frills, but clean and pleasant. They arranged for us to travel from the airport to the resort (for money). I was surprised that there was almost no choice for breakfast: either you eat porridge, sandwiches and scrambled eggs, or … you don’t eat breakfast. Vegetarian/vegan? No, we haven't!
Food prices in Dombay
In general, the choice of housing and the general infrastructure in Dombay are rather modest. When compared with the same Terskol or Arkhyz, Dombai really lags behind. But it takes with its atmosphere – harsh mountains and a little enchanted, as if time has stopped.
Prices in cafes and restaurants in Dombay in 2022 are generally democratic:
- Lunch for two ( hot soup and khychins) — 1000 rubles
- Soup — 250–300 rubles
- Pilaf portion — 400 rubles
- Lamb barbecue — 400 rubles
We dined mostly in cafes on the slopes. Most of them are at an altitude of 2500 meters, in a clearing under Mount Musa. You can get there on the fourth stage of the old cable car. Usually they sat down where there was a free place, since the slopes are quite crowded during the season. Pancakes with stuffing – khychiny (they are also always the most inexpensive on the menu), shurpa and shish kebab became a favorite dish. The portions in the cafe are quite large, you need to control yourself – we still have to go down the highway 🙂
In the evenings we went to a cafe in Dombay, in the village itself. Despite the fact that it is cheaper here, we spent more – because we ordered alcohol and sat longer. We appreciated the cafes “Basilik”, “Fir Cape” and “At Zuli”. Everywhere they feed generously, with a large selection of dishes of European and Caucasian cuisine.
There are also several grocery stores in the village, but you will not find a full-fledged good supermarket. Prices for groceries in a store in Dombai are plus or minus the usual – bread, groceries and cookies are at home. Almost forgot! Bring cash. You will need it almost everywhere: both to pay for a ski pass and in a cafe. There are ATMs in the village, but just know that you can’t do without papers in Dombai.
Prices for lifts in Dombai in 2022: ski pass and slopes
Not very developed infrastructure is blocked by skiing: Dombay has picturesque, long, wide slopes of different levels and crazy beautiful mountains around.
Yes, you say, there are mountains all over the Caucasus. And I will answer that a wheelchair on Elbrus is available only from a certain level of training. And on Dombai in a week you can go from zero to average: not scary (if only terribly beautiful) and very interesting. At the same time, the tracks are longer than on Arkhyz.
- As for the ropeways, this is where the fun begins. Cable cars in Dombay belong to different owners. That is, you need to buy a separate card for each cable car.
This surprised and amused us very much, because it is very similar to the 90s. This piece of the track is held by Zhora, and that one is held by Tolya. And everyone has their own tickets. For example, on the lowest section of the old chairlift, cards are not accepted, and tickets look like old thin paper coupons. But, of course, this is not the case everywhere.
In the beginning, all this brings a lot of confusion. That is why I would advise not to take a big ski pass on the first day, especially considering the different types of lifts.
- You can get bored with one track, but to get to another, you need another cable car, and There is no single “card”.
If you like a particular section of the route where you will ride most often, then you can take a subscription to this cable car. We often decided how we would ride only in the morning (based on the remaining strength, for example). Sometimes we took a ski pass for half a day, sometimes for the whole day.
The lifts in Dombay are also distinguished by the fact that only the first stage of the new cable car is “closed”, of the gondola type. On all the rest there is no heating and protective screens. Keep this in mind when planning your gear! It will be very cold on the upper sections.
So, the prices for a ski pass in Dombay in 2022:
Scheme of ski slopes in Dombay. Source: dombayinfo.ru
- The new complex of lifts in Dombay is the fastest and most comfortable, it provides access from the village to the highest point of 3168 meters (where, if anything, there is no normal toilet). The cable car consists of several queues (transfers).
Opening hours: Mon-Fri from 09:00 to 17:00, Sat-Sun from 08:30 to 17:30 >The old line of chairlifts is an authentic option: chairlifts with wooden seats. It also goes from below, is located across the road from the brand new gondola. It goes along a different route in several queues, and does not deliver to the very top. Rides for a long time: if you get very excited after skiing, you can freeze. But for a walking mood, fly over the very tops of the fir trees! It will also take you to the busiest section of the ski slopes at an altitude of 2500 meters (most of the cafes and rental shops are located there).
Opening hours: from 08:30 to 17:00
Ski pass price per day: 1800 rubles
- The cable car “Yugoslavka” is not always open. Along the route, it repeats the 5th line of the old cable car.
The cost of a ski pass for the day: 500 rubles
- The pendulum cable car is more suitable if you are climbing a mountain to enjoy the views and take photos. For skiers, the wait is too long.
The cost of the lift: 300 rubles for tourists, 200 rubles for skiers
- The ski lift is useful for those who are just starting to ski or snowboard.
Fare: 500 rubles
Prices for ski lifts in Dombay in 2022 may change, it is better to check before the specific dates of your trip.
Prices for equipment rental
We found out the cost of going to the slopes, but what about the equipment if you don’t have the opportunity/don’t want to bring your own? Renting a board, boots and glasses will cost you 1000 rubles per day. There are several rental shops in the village itself and upstairs. Do not neglect the safety rules – be sure to take a helmet and protection for other parts of the body.
A whole staff of certified riders (alpine skiing or snowboarding instructors) work in Dombay – you can find them at an altitude of 2500 meters. If you see a large sign, you can't go wrong. In order not to worry, ask to see the certificate that every pro must have.
- The cost of an individual lesson is around 2000 rubles per hour. It may be more expensive, depending on the experience of the instructor. You can save money if the lesson is held with 2 “students” at once.
In my opinion, it is not worth saving on training (who needs it). It is better to take at least 2-3 lessons for yourself so as not to reinforce erroneous skills and enjoy driving faster.
What to see in Dombai? Our route
Mountain regions are a pleasure of a separate kind. In the vicinity of Dombai, places of amazing beauty are scattered. You need to get to them either by car or laying part of the route in the tracks. Of the most famous and beautiful locations:
- Alibek gorge (glacier) and Lake Turye,
- Sufrudzha waterfalls,
- Russian glade.
In general, there are many beautiful cities near Mineralnye Vody (where you arrive). Pyatigorsk, Kislovodsk, Essentuki. This region is absolutely beautiful for traveling at different times of the year. In summer, you can meet mountain tourists and climbers from different countries at the same airport.
If you are not interested in climbing and other hardcore, you can always stay in a small hotel and get out on excursions. The Dombai route may include the Amanauz gorge, Chuchkhur waterfalls, Mussa-Achitara peak, Gonachkhir gorge, waterfalls, cities that have retained the charm of royal resorts: all this will definitely not be enough for you in one trip! The Caucasus steals the heart seriously and for a long time.
It is optimal to turn the village itself into a starting point for exploring the surroundings, because it is from there that most of the routes to beautiful natural attractions begin. For example, the Gonachkhir gorge is only 7 km from the Dombay glade: it is convenient to get there by car (part of the path is limited by the border zone with Abkhazia, but it’s cool on the accessible section of the route: the mountain river boils in the gorge, there is a fresh pine smell).
< p>Another nice place is Lake Tumanly-Kel! This is just a combo: bewitching landscapes, and recreation areas with barbecue facilities are nearby. A folding chair, a thermos of tea – and now two hours have flown by. You can get from the village to the lake in an ordinary passenger car. A very beautiful place! Entrance fee, 200 rubles.
For a little more active tourists, I suggest this walking route – to the Russian Valley. You can get off the first stage of the old chairlift, you can even without it. The trail goes through the forest, and it is not difficult at all: the total duration of such a walk there and back is about four hours. Wonderful panoramas of the peaks open from the meadow, and in summer it is covered with flowers. I have a dream – to get there in autumn to see a combination of colorful forest and snowy peaks!
Tourist reviews of Dombai
I had very good impressions about the trip to Dombay. I was just happy that the tracks turned out to be within my power, and I could fully ride. The beauty of the mountains around, of course, immediately pierced the heart. And there was a LOT of snow, a real immersion in a winter fairy tale.
Yes, the very appearance of the village surprised me a little: it is clear that the region does not get much money, and it has known better times: there are unfinished buildings, a lot has been done in haste. Compared to other resorts, the village is abandoned. And the prices in Dombay in 2022 are not even close to the limitless Krasnaya Polyana. I sincerely hope that the situation will improve over time, because Dombay has a huge potential.
But there are no questions about the slopes: this is a very worthy place for skiing. And in general, I love the Caucasus – the people are good, the khychins are hot, and they have a great rest in nature, everything unnecessary immediately flies out of my head.
Tourist reviews of Dombay in 2022 generally agree that the beauty of this natural region is difficult to describe in words. Some traditionally complain about the lack of service, but … it seems to me that openness to the new is the key to any cool trip. Therefore, I advise you to choose the season and set off to set records – to conquer mountains or eat hychins.
Climate and weather in Dombai – when is the best time to go?
A trip to the mountainous region in any season is a new experience every time. The climate and weather in Dombay are in sharp contrast and depend on the season.
If you are going to ride, the season lasts from December to April. Experienced tourists advise skiing in February and March – at this time, according to reviews, the best snow cover. The weather, as elsewhere in the mountains, can be different: with a strong wind or large drifts, part of the route can be closed. But I noticed that the pistes are well maintained.
The summer months are also great for a trip – you can go on tracks or go on excursions by car. This is exactly what many independent travelers do.
How much does a holiday in Dombai cost?
This aspect also strongly depends on the season. Let me give you an example of the calculation for my trip in February (the height of the wheelchair) for a week.
Prices in the Dombay ski resort in 2022 look like this:
- Flight from Moscow: 8000 rubles with a snowboard back and forth
- Transfer to the hotel and back: 10,000 rubles
- Accommodation: 42,000 rubles at the National Hotel
- Ski pass: 13,200 rubles , if taken for the whole day
- Lunches and dinners: 14,000 rubles
- Other expenses (sharpening the board, sauna, souvenirs): 3,000 rubles
- Equipment rental: 7,000 rubles
In total, my independent trip around Dombai cost 64,200 rubles. The final amount takes into account that I shared a transfer with friends and a room with one person.
I considered the average prices for accommodation and lunches and dinners. The amount may be less if you book the private sector in advance and cook on your own. But we rarely cooked – tired on the slope, the last thing you want to do is stand by the stove in the evenings. But in summer, housing, as I wrote above, is much cheaper – which means that the cost of vacation is much lower.
Dombay, Elbrus or Arkhyz – where is it better to go?
How to choose a resort: Arkhyz or Dombai, or maybe Elbrus? I definitely recommend the ski resort Dombay those who have recently embarked on a board or skis. This resort is very good for learning – there are no dangerous cliffs, narrow sections, sharp turns. At the same time, for normal skiers, there are more difficult tracks and the opportunity for freeriding.
The landscapes around are simply marvelous, and this is not an exaggeration at all. There are very powerful mountains at the top and there can be a strong wind, and below the tracks go already in the middle of the forest, a completely different picture.
Elbrus is still a more severe resort, suitable for stronger riders. Arkhyz is the newest and “sleekest” of all, and is now actively developing. So far, its minus is shorter tracks compared to Elbrus and Dombai. But they promise to lengthen them, and then it will be absolutely beautiful!