Nearly all the best known mountain spots in Crimea (the Big Canyon, cave cities of Eski-Kermen, Mangup-Kale, and others) are in the Belbek Valley.
The word “belbek” has many meanings–“strong back”, “big coming”, and others.
There is no single interpretation, but it’s clear that the valley bears the name of the river. From among all the versions, I best like the “dagger.”
The valley is a river bed with many tributaries which are like sword blades. It’s a long valley hidden in low “mountains”. The tourist spots I mentioned above can be found in its various parts.
But we visited friends and hiked that part of the valley where there are almost no tourists.
The views are stunning.
And if you are fed up with Crimea’s coast, off you go to the valley where there is so much to see that even several days of driving and hiking won’t be enough.
If you are not a fan of foot tourism, you should take your own car. Or you can rent–trust me, you won’t regret it. There are many hostels, hotels, and places to stop. Or you can pitch a tent, unroll a foal pad, and sleep under the stars.
We drove to Novoulyanovka. A small village with the usual village life. Ubiquitous cows and horses. Tiny shops where one can buy everything and nothing.
Mint, sage–there are enough herbs in Crimea’s mountains that you can drown in their aroma.
An outstanding deep lake with warm water and improbable color.
Mud from Kerch, not local.
We were the terror of the beaches!
If you go from the coast, there are two ways, through Sevastopol by road, or using a mountain road through Ai-petri. Different distances but the time’s the same. The road to Ai-petri is has a thousand twists and turns among pine trees.
Если ехать с побережья, то есть два пути – через Севастополь по шоссе, либо через горную дорогу, ведущую через Айпетри. Расстояние разное, но время дороги одиноковое. Дорога до Ай-петри – это тысячи серпантинов, с соснами.
A plateau near Ai-petri.
And yes, Crimea is a seat of power!