Sochi National Park, established in 1983, became one of the first national parks in the country. It is a large natural site where subtropical vegetation is neighboring the snow-covered mountain peaks. In the North-West it is bounded by the mouths of the Shepsi and Magri rivers, in the South-East by the border with Abkhazia. Its southern and northern borders are the Black Sea coast and the divide line of the Main Caucasian ridge.
An ordinary trip to Sochi National Park can take several days, and to get around it completely, not even a week is enough. The Park includes two distinct zones. Its largest part lies on the mountainous terrain with numerous streams, while a smaller foothill area stretching along the coast has plain ground.
Every guest approaching the northern border of Sochi along the highway finds him/herself on the territory of the Sochi National Park. For the distance of 145 km along the Black Sea coast he/she will regularly see beautiful carved signs notifying about transition of the border of one of 15 forest areas of the Park or location of one of the equipped natural recreational facilities.
The Sochi National Park (the first one in Russia) was created in 1983 for a number of reasons, the most important of which are: preservation of natural samples, undisturbed eco-systems and their genepool; uniqueness of the natural complexes that are the greatest center of preservation of the ancient Colchic relic flora and the increasing recreational role of forests in the intensive development of Sochi resorts.
The Sochi National Park covers an area of more than 190,000 ha. Due to its biological diversity, the number of relic and endemic forms, broad variety and contrasts of landscapes, this natural territory stands alone in our country, and the presence of unique endemics among animals and plants that do not exist in any other parts of the world allows us to speak about the global significance of the Park.
For the purpose of environmental education and development of eco-tourism, there is a great number of equipped recreational facilities, sightseeing tours and picnic complexes in the territory of the Park. Adventure travellers can see multiple hydrographic and geological natural monuments of the Sochi National Park, such as Orekhovskiye, Agura, Zmeika waterfalls, Akh-tsu, Prokhladny Psakho canyons and many others. On the territory of the Soshi National Park there are a great number of karst massifs – Alek, Akhun, Akh-tsu, Akhshtyr, Dzykhra. The massifs contain about 200 caves, 50 of them are the largest karst caverns of scientific and speleological interest. The Vorontsovka, Akhtyrshskaya, Tigrovaya Caves and the Cave of Witches are open to public.
The Sochi National Park protects not only natural monuments, but multiple historical and cultural sites as well. You can touch the mysterious antiquity visiting ruins of the temple in settlement Loo, enigmatic structures still intensely debated by scientists and local historians – dolmens concentrated in great number in the Lazarevsky District. Excursions to open-air ethnic museums where you can not only see utensils and household items, but even taste national dishes will help you to emerge in the culture and traditions of the peoples of the Caucasian Black Sea coast. The watchtower on the Akhun mountain – the highest mountain of Sochi, from where you can enjoy a marvelous view on the Black Sea, the Main Caucasian Range, the city and, of course, the Sochi National Park – is a monument of a later period, but nonetheless historically important.
Those who enjoy family holidays in the open air can use picnic areas equipped in the Park: comfortable garden furniture, playgrounds, outdoor grills, firewood, in brief, everything that a person may need to take a break from the hassles and worries of everyday life.
Visitors of the Park can encounter unsolved mysteries literally at every turn – such as the origination of the Moon Stone or purpose of the Sacrificial Stone, legends that surround every river, waterfall or mountain peak. But the most important thing is the elation and high spirits from the contact with wildlife of the Sochi National Park.
Like anything alive, the nature is very fragile and vulnerable. Remember it setting out for a walk or a hiking tour.