How dangerous is Abkhazia?

Those were the reactions when I announced my plan to travel to Abkhazia:

  • “Oh, isn’t that dangerous?” (seventeen times)
  • “Be careful, it’s very dangerous there!” (eight times)
  • “But what would you want to do there?” (five times)
  • “You have to be very careful! Under no circumstances should you speak to a girl. As soon as you just look at a girl, four of her brothers with guns will be there to protect her. It’s like Chechnya.” (once)
  • The Department of State strongly cautions U.S. citizens against travel to the Russian occupied regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. A number of attacks, criminal incidents, and kidnappings have occurred in and around the area.” (US State Department)

My first visit to Abkhazia only lasted four days. But as I was out exploring every day and crossed almost the whole country twice, I dare say I got enough of a first impression to tell you about it.

And this is what Abkhazia looks like:

train station Suchumi.JPG

waterfront Sukhumi.JPG

botanical garden.JPG

corniche sukhumi.JPG

painter botanical garden.JPG

blue house.JPG

Krone mit Meer.JPG

See mit Boot und Burg.JPG

Kirche Museum Wasserfall.JPG

train station.JPG

Kloster durch Wald.JPG


night Sukhumi.JPG

So, how dangerous was Abkhazia really?

Quite dangerous indeed! Dangerously beautiful and dangerously interesting. It is particularly dangerous for people who don’t want to lose the prejudice about anywhere east of Italy being dangerous, evil and poor.

Seriously, the most dangerous thing was this cat who tried to eat my shoelaces.

Katze Schnürsenkel.JPG

By the way, while I was gone exploring the Caucasus, Germany looked like this:


Lesson: Most travel warnings are useless and wrong because they are issued by people who have never visited the relevant country, or their last visit was 10 years ago, or who are sitting in an office all day and are generally scared as soon as they venture outside.

(Zur deutschen Fassung.)

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Abkhazia, Life, Photography, Travel and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to How dangerous is Abkhazia?

  1. Pingback: Wie gefährlich ist Abchasien? | Der reisende Reporter

  2. janerebecca says:

    Love the way this post was written :) how interesting. Your photos make Abkhazia look so beautiful and lush. And how cute is that kitten!

  3. brokenradius says:

    I like this post. It is so true. By the way, one of the dangers you have not mentioned in your blog is that you will find your travel plans quickly ruined, because ones you are invited to peoples home, they usually don’t let you go before you have been with them for a couple of days. And after this, they usually pass you further to another family of friends or relatives. And on and on.

  4. setora says:

    Lucky you, if the kitten attack on your shoelaces was the most dangerous situation you encountered in Abkhazia! Others, who were here at around the same time or slightly earlier than you, were not that lucky. In fact, Abkhazia has just experienced some of the most violent weeks in recent times, seriously alarming not only tourists, but also broad stretches of Abkhaz society due to the vigilant justice nature of some of the crimes: shootings in the middle of Sukhum in broad daylight – one of them mortal -, two families of Russian tourists getting kidnapped, leaving one of the victims stabbed to death and a feud involving the rape of a young girl and the murder of her grown-up sister. Your hosts must have kept all that well from you… But still, Abkhazia is beautiful and interesting. I certainly agree with that.

    • Oh oh, thank you for that additional information!
      I must have been lucky indeed. I even got into a stranger’s car who stopped and offered to give me a ride from Novy Afon to Sukhum, when I was waiting for the bus. Very nice guy, even though we couldn’t communicate because I don’t speak any Russian.

    • setora says:

      Taking a ride with someone is perfectly fine, of course. I wasn’t meaning to suggest that Abkhazia is, after all, an inherently dangerous place and you should be suspicious, if its inhabitants are being nice to you and extremely hospitable. Not every person offering you a lift is a potential murderer or kidnapper. No way! But there is crime in Abkhazia (as in any other place on earth) and it’s good to keep a healthy sense of danger and security – beyond kittens :-)

  5. There might be a fourth reason for those fear mongering travel warnings: to avoid that inexperienced travelers get into trouble. For instance, São Paulo is fine if you mingle in, but acting like a lost tourist (e.g. camera and cellphone out, fancy watch, ignoring your surroundings) is a sure recipe for trouble -Verne

    • Good point. In the case of Abkhazia there are also hardly any consulates because not many countries recognize it, so there wouldn’t be any consular help. (Although the scope of consular help would be another issue for debate.)

  6. simonjkyte says:

    The consular issue is the main reason

    • In my experience, random strangers help you much more than any consulate. Also, nowadays, if you get robbed, you just need to go to the nearest internet café and e-mail your mom for more money. (Admittedly, it is a bigger problem if you lose your passport.)

    • simonjkyte says:

      or have it taken off you – as I did in the Balkan wars

    • But it sounds like you got a good story in return. You have made me curious!

  7. Great to see Western people come to Abkhazia and break the prejudice. And if people had known the true history of Abkhazia and Adyghea ,totally Circassia, they would be with Abkhazia, not with Georgia or Russia. And search 1864 Circassian exile and Georgia’s role on how to have changed the population in Abkhazia on behalf of Georgia. What you know about Georgian culture today is mostly Caucasian. They claim they are the real Caucasians, because there is not enough Abkhaz in the country today.

    • I was only in Abkhazia for a few days, but I had a very knowledgeable host, who also took me to an exhibition at SKLAD, the cultural center in Sukhum, where there was an exhibition about the different ethnicities (current and former) of Abkhazia. So I learned a little bit about the expulsion of Circassians and about the death of many of them in the Caucasus and on the sea.

      I will only get to it in summer, but I am still going to write an extensive article about Sukhum and I will cover that history there.

      I still have the best memories of Abkhazia, and I would love to return for longer! But I noticed that I have to study some Russian before (luckily, nobody expects me to study Abkhaz).

    • Untitled says:

      Sending love to the people of Abkhazia! Regarding the comment, I would rather be a bit careful with subject of planned ethnic conflicts, a territory of Russian alcoholic kidnapper-killer border soldiers and strange theories about ancient origins. I like your articles, especially the one about my hometown Tbilisi, I would just be happier if ‘sheltering’ Russia would do a bit more to fight poverty than to manipulate with numbers of ethnic populations, write history, settle corrupt businessmen and militants in nice villas, imagination will take you further. So before the Russian studies, may we wish all Caucasian peoples live in peace, and preserve their culture, whether they do or do not consolidate into greater states. Arguing about who’s more older and more local will take us far. Peace!

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