We are pleased to announce the addition of two new destinations to the Travelers’ Century Club list of countries and territories. Our list now stands at 329. They are:
- South Ossetia
- Austral Islands
Both of these destinations deserve more than a passing comment, so in this post we’ll introduce South Ossetia first.
Background of South Ossetia
Formerly an autonomous region of Georgia, South Ossetia enjoyed de facto independence after a conflict in 1992. In 2008 a war broke out when Georgia tried to assert its dominance. Russian forces be- came involved and the war ended in mere days, resulting in the expulsion of ethnic Georgian civilians and the end of Georgian government.
The only countries that recognize South Ossetian independence are Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Syria, and Nauru. Many in South Ossetia wish to merge with North Ossetia and become part of Russia, but no action has been taken.
The TCC board has followed the situation for the last several years and feels confident that any consolidation with Russia is not in the foreseeable future, and so have added it to the list under Rule 5: “Disputed Status: Geographically defined areas which have historically had an independent idemtity and whose current political status is the subject of dispute shall be counted as separate territories.”
How to Get In
Absolutely no entry from the Georgian side is possible. One must enter overland from Russia, as there are no airports in the country. Travelers usually leave from Vladikavkaz, Russia (North Ossetia) and travel along the TransKam Highway, through the Roki mountain tunnel.
You will need a double- or multiple- entry Russian visa or you’ll be refused entry into South Ossetia.
Unless you’re from a country that recognizes South Ossetian independence, an entry permit is required in advance, and unless you have a good South Ossetian friend, the permit is only available through a tourist company registered in South Ossetia. Local regulations require a guide to accompany all tourists.
What to Do and See
The capital city of Tskhinvali has a newish city center with a few interesting buildings, a national museum, and an 18th-century Armenian church. The Museum of Burnt Souls is a memorial built of bombed out civilian cars in memory of those who lost their lives trying to flee the city in 2008.
Driving through the countryside of South Ossetia reveals landscapes of foothills and mountains, small villages, and occasionally the ruins of a fortress or tower.