Altai (also spelled Altay) is the generic name for the Altay territory and the Altay Republic, which currently represent two distinct region.
Altay Republic, which is only 260 sq km, is located in the South of Western Siberia and is part of the Siberian Federal District.
Located at the headwaters of the Ob river, which is formed by the confluence of two rivers — Biya and Katun — the main water arteries that originate in the Republic. Many call this area the Altay mountains, because it is represented by mountain ranges. The highest point of this mountain range is mount Belukha height 4509 m. Belukha is the highest in Siberia, and very interesting in terms of mountaineering.
The capital is the city Gorno-Altaisk, the only city of the small Republic. The population on January 1, 2012 was 208 445 people, where the indigenous population — the Altaians, the descendants of the Turkic tribes. Religious beliefs represented by shamanism, burkhanism, Orthodoxy, Buddhism, Islam.
The main motorway of the region is the Chuysky tract (Federal highway M-52), as if cutting the Altai mountains in half. Starting in Novosibirsk, he gives a yield of Russia bordering Mongolia; the total length of the path is 963 km
In 1998 the UNESCO included five unique natural sites called “Altai — Golden Mountains”. It Teletskoe lake, Altai State Nature Reserve, Zone of Peace “Ukok”, Katunskiy State Nature Biosphere Reserve and mount Belukha. These objects of the world natural heritage with a unique ethno-cultural, ecological characteristics and a special variety of flora and fauna.
How to get to Altai
To Altai mountains it is possible to reach by any means, including aircraft. In 2011, about 6 km West of the capital of the Republic, were opened a new airport which is the air gate of Mountains of Altai. The “S7 Airlines” serve these routes. Distance between Gorno-Altaisk and Moscow is about 3133 kilometres. The average flight duration is 4 hours 50 minutes.
In addition, there is the alternative to fly to Barnaul, which the airport operates with two major airlines — “Aeroflot” and “S7 Airlines”. From Barnaul, on Chuysk road you can travel directly to the Mountain Altai.
Also there is a railway terminal station which is located in the city of Biysk, located 100 km from the Republic. From Biisk (the train station is near the bus station) you can reach the Mountain Altai by shuttle buses, minibuses or taxies.
Road plays an important role in remote areas of the Republic coming to the fore. By the car, in Chuyskiy tract you can reach the cities of Novosibirsk, Barnaul, Biysk and the capital of the Republic, and to remote corners of the Altai mountains, where are preferred off-road vehicles.
Weather in Altai
The climate of the Altai Republic is extremely continental with a short hot summer and long frosty winter. But in the summer nights at sunset, especially in the highlands, which is the “priority” of the Altai mountains, the temperature drops considerably, which is a feature of this type of climate. In the mountains weather is very changeable nature: the bright sun can suddenly change the weather. Therefore, during travel, despite the hot summer, there is necessary to have warm clothes.
Peak tourist season is the summer months. But in the winter time here is also what to do, special popularity the region enjoys among skiers and snowboarders, snowmobile tours are also offered.
Two districts from ten existing Republic, Ulagansky and Kosh-Agach — equivalents to the far North.
Weather in Altai by months
According to metastatistics of the Altai Republic
|The absolute maximum, °C||Average high °C||Average temperature, °C||Average low, °C|
|Weather in Altai Republic in January||7,3||-11,1||-15,4||-19,4|
|Weather in Altai Republic in February||8,0||-8,8||-14,2||-18,7|
|Weather in Altay in March||19,2||-3,6||-9,2||-14,7|
|Weather in Altai Republic in April||30,4||5,3||0,4||-4,8|
|Weather in Altai in may||37,6||15,3||9,9||4,4|
|Weather in Altai in June||40,1||20,0||14,7||8,6|
|Weather in Altay in July||42,2||22,3||16,8||11,4|
|Weather in Altay in August||44,0||20,3||14,7||9,3|
|Weather in Altai Republic in September||38,0||13,1||8,4||3,6|
|Weather in Altai Republic in October||27,9||5,0||1,0||-2,5|
|Weather in Altay in November||15,7||-4,2||-8,5||-12,3|
|Weather in Altai Republic in December||6,4||-9,7||-13,5||-17,3|
Transportation in Altai
Chuysky trakt passes through the region, skirting the capital of the Republic. In General, the road network is poorly developed. Good roads lead to all of the regional centers, whereas in other parts of the Republic and more difficult to get. Often the locals offer car transportation services for vehicles in remote places, where on either on horseback or on foot.
Regions Of Altai
Geographically, the Republic of Altai is divided into ten areas, Mayminsky, Chemalsky, Shebalinskiy, Ongudai, Kosh-Agach, Ust-Koksinsky, Ust-Kansky, Ulagansky, Turochaksky, Choya — the only city Gorno-Altaisk — the capital of the Republic.
Currently, the tourism is becoming considerable increasing, occupying one of leading places in the economy of the Republic. It contributes a lot to the construction of modern tourist facilities, creation of special economic zones of tourist-recreational type, to improve the transport branches and the development of tourist infrastructure in general.
Each of the ten administrative-territorial districts of the Republic has its natural attractions, access to which is developed to a greater or lesser level.
No doubt, an important tourist attraction is the Chuysky trakt, the main part of which (540 km) passes through the territory of the Republic. This historic road is considered to be a unique “artifact”, along which, all of the Gorno-Altai area, there are the ancient monuments belonging to different epochs. Attracts interest construction of the tract, which lies mostly in mountain difficult terrain. In the city of Biysk there is the Museum of Chuiskiy tract, dedicated to the legendary road.
The city of Gorno-Altaisk is situated in the North-Western part of the Altai Republic in the intermountain hollow altitude of 270 — 305 m above the sea level. The most interesting and definitely worthwhile attraction is the national Museum named after Anokhin, where in the fall of 2012 from Novosibirsk was brought the mummy of the Altai Princess which was found on the Ukok plateau (the Princess of Ukok”).
The most developed tourist areas of the region is the area of the Lower Katun river in the lower reaches of the river, Chemalsky, Ust-Koksinsky districts and Turochaksky district, where lies the Northern part of lake Teletskoye. Relatively good roads, hotels and hostels suits all tastes and budgets, the availability of interesting excursion sites, pure mountain air contribute to the attractiveness of these area.
Mayminsky district is located in the lower reaches of the Katun river and is a kind of outpost of tourism, through him is laid the “lion’s share” of the tourist routes. Located on both sides of the tchuisky highway, which runs along the right Bank of the Katun river up to the downtown area, all kinds of tourist complexes, camping grounds, the “green house” are always popular. Here, on both sides of the Katun, there are two Special Economic Zones of Tourist-Recreational Type (SEZ TRT) — “Biryuzovaya Katun” and “Altai Valley”.
“Biryuzovaya Katun” is located on the left Bank on the territory of Altai region and has an area of 3326 ha. the Main attraction is the artificial lake with an area of 7 hectares and a depth of 5 meters, which partially solves the problem of the presence of warm waters in the Altai — the water temperature in this lake in the summer, never drops below 23 degrees. Lakes and rivers for the most part are of glacial origin, where the water temperature does not rise above 10 °C, so is not comfortable enough for swimming.
The second SEZ TRT “Altai valley” is located on the territory of the Republic of Altai on the right Bank of the Katun river. Total area “Altai valley” is 856 ha. In the architectural solution of the territory will represent a complex of artificial lakes and three artificial Islands, each of which will have a diverse purpose.
In the area of the Lower Katun river, on the left bank is freshwater warm lake Aya, one of the few places of the Altai mountains and foothills in the summer to swim with comfort, the water warms up to 20 °C and above.
On the banks of the lake are tourist bases and campsites, the density of which is high. Camp sites differ in the level of comfort, service and price category.
Chemal district deserve attention, first of all, thanks to pine forests, which are saturated with healing phytoncides – air has a beneficial effect on the human body. This is quite developed in terms of tourism district, is one common natural and cultural-historic landmark. Here are located Karakol lake, the island of Patmos on the Katun and a women’s monastery, Chemal hydroelectric power station as a historical monument and various museums devoted to outstanding personalities, beneficial shade, the attractiveness of the area.
The popular area among climbers, is Ust’-Koksa district, where is the massive and lofty ridge of the Altai mountains — the Katun. Belukha mountain is the highest point of the Katun ridge. In addition, Ust-Koksinsky district is the place where first came the old believers, fled from tsarist authorities. In the village of Upper uymon is the Museum of old believers N. Roerich on the way to the Himalayas, too, lived for some time in this village, and here the house-Museum of Roerich.
Teletskoye lake with its length of 78 km, lies on the border of two regions — the Northern part belongs to the Turochaksky and South Ulagansky areas. More developed Northern coast, where are various tourist complexes, recreation centres, the “green houses”.
Green rural tourism is quite a new direction of the tourism industry — has taken a proactive stance in the Altai mountains. So, located on the Northern shore of lake Teletskoye “green house” offers various tourist services up to the tours by locals born and raised on this land.
To the North of lake Teletskoye is born one of the largest drains of the Republic — the river Biya, being the only river flowing from lake.
The Kosh-Agach district is the “cold pole” where the temperature in winter months falls to extremely low temperatures. But in the summer the Ukok plateau, located in the area, is a real place of pilgrimage. In addition, the presence of numerous petroglyphs, ancient temples and other archaeological and historical monuments attracts curious tourists.
Chuyskiy trakt, like a real mountain road, has numerous large and small mountain passes, but the most important are the Seminsky pass and Chike-Taman. The Seminsky pass is the highest point of the tchuisky highway, the height of just over 1700 m — passes through the Seminsky ridge. In 1956, on the Seminsky pass was raised a stele in honor of the bicentennial of the voluntary entry of the Altai Republic in structure of Russia.
Here is the training center “Seminsky pass”, which was created in 1986 for the training of sportsmen of high qualification in ski sports in the mountains.
The second Grand pass — Chike-Taman — has a few switchbacks, and looks very impressive from the viewing platform on its top. Since 1996, declared as a natural monument.
The remaining areas also have a number of natural and historical features, but access to them is rather complicated; on the SUV, you can drive to most of them, but in other places can be reached only on horseback or on foot.
Almost any travel agency located in the Altai, and outside will be able to offer tourist services of any direction.
In addition to the Republic of Altai, no doubt, deserves the attention of the balneological resort of Federal significance, located in Belokurikha. The city lies in the South-Eastern part of Altai Krai in the valley of the river Belokurikha at an altitude of 240-250 meters above sea level at the foot of the mountain Churches.
Belokurikha has a complex of therapeutic factors: favourable climatic conditions, mountain air, containing in its composition of light air ions, thermal nitric-siliceous radonotherapy water.
Altaians — representatives of the Mongoloid type. As a rule, they are small in stature, lean build, have slightly slanted almond-shaped eyes.
Ethnic group of Altaians — it is a broad concept, including such ethnic groups as chelkantsy, tubulary and celerity who belong to the minorities of Russia. They are distinguished by features of their culture and are aware of this distinction.
Altai is long-standing and well-developed mythology, and folklore, and epic, a bright example of which is “Maadai-Kara — Altai heroic epic, which reflects the ideological foundations of the Altaic people. Altai epos marks the storytellers-kaichi, usually to the accompaniment of topshur — Altai musical instrument, where the way the game is saber.
National Altai dwelling — ail is a hexagonal conical building. The number six for the Altai people is magical. The entrance to the home traditionally sent to the East, as well as other Turkic peoples. Inside the village is divided into two halves: the right of the door, female, left door is male. Things related to the economic activities of men and women are the female and male halves, respectively.
Sights Of Altai
One common natural landmark is a characteristic of the Altai mountains. The name “Altai mountains” speaks for itself — the territory of the Republic is a mountain ranges with an average altitude of 4,000 m, which is shared between intermountain basins, called Alpine grasslands and deep river valleys.
Accordingly, if there are mountains high enough for Siberia, then there must be climbing. The most popular climbing peaks belong to the three ridges of the Altai mountains — the Katun, North Car and South Car.
The mountain alpinism as a sport in the Altai occurred in the early twentieth century In 1914, the brothers Boris and Mikhail Tronov made the first ascent of Eastern Belukha, which is the highest point not only of the Katun ridge, Altai mountains, but generally of Siberia. A number of unsuccessful attempts of climbing after Tronov brothers suspended tireless researchers, but in 1933 the team under the lead of V. Abalakova managed to climb to the top. In 1935, in the district of Belukha,was held the first all-Siberian alpiniada which starts the beginning of the massive climbs, which continue to this day.
Belukha mountain — two-headed, and being the highest, it can be seen from all sides. West summit is slightly inferior to the Eastern in height. Between two peaks connected by a slightly concave hollow.
Climbing routes are divided into 11 categories from 1B to 6b. The classic route for the category 3A is the most common, requires experience less difficult ascents.
Beside the Belukha, you can make different difficulty climbing on several other peaks located in the area.
Climb to the top or simply admire the peaks of the Belukha and their reflections in the lake Akkem is possible directly from the shore of the lake. All roads end at the village of Tyungur, where to the foot of Belukha really accessible on foot or on horseback. Possible and helicopter tours.
The North-Chuyskiy ridge is situated parallel to the Katun and has similar climatic conditions on norms. Mountain host bish-Iiru is a Central part of the North Chuya ridge. This part of the greatest glaciation is particularly popular among climbers, because here there are almost all routes for climbing. The alpinist camp Aktru, located in the area attracts climbers who are experienced and just looking to explore the mountain peaks. Here are the climbing charges; you can go through the mountain training for the badge “the Climber of Russia” to the sports category.
South-Chuyskiy ridge is inferior to the Katun and the North-Chuyskiy only in the heights. The location of the largest glaciers of the Altai mountains in the interior, amazingly beautiful peaks, the presence of technically challenging routes for climbing attract the attention of climbers and travelers. And, in spite of the inaccessibility, the number of people wishing to visit this place is growing exponentially. The highest point in South-Chuya ridge mountain Iktu, which reaches a height 3967 m.
Many talk about the Altai, as on “water Paradise”, and this is no accident — it is here that the mostly rivers are interesting in terms of rafting, which offers various water competitions of the world level. Such rivers as the Katun, Chuya and Chulyshman known for powerful rapids and are the best in the country in relation to the fusion of all categories of complexity, which in boating six. In other words, rafting in Altai is represented in all its diversity.
The main river of the Altai mountains — the Katun, the length of 688 km, originates on the southern slope of Katun ridge near the Belukha mountain at an altitude of about 2000 meters. Divided into three sections — the Upper Katun, Middle and bottom.
Upper Katun is a complex area, which requires passage of skills and abilities, therefore can not be recommended for “dummies”. Average Katun is exciting rapids that skillfully traversed the groups accompanied by an experienced instructor.
Lower Katun interesting in terms of a one-day “ride” — a steady flow together with the categorical thresholds make this site quite popular among the tourists of almost all ages.
The Chuya River is a right tributary of the Katun. Extremely complex plot for the alloy — Malicki cascade flowing down the canyon. No less dangerous rapids in the middle reaches. In the area of 761 km of the tchuisky highway is an interesting place, which in the spring is especially popular among watermen. Here is one of the famous rapids of the river Chuya, which is “hand in hand” comes with chuiski tract, the threshold of “Behemoth”, where, since 1989, in early may, held an exciting competition called “Chuya-rally”, which correspond to the international format of the competition in rafting techniques and water tourism.
Chulyshman and Bashkaus (a tributary of the Chulyshman) also attract rafters for its numerous obstacles, the highest categories of complexity.
Situated on the Chulcha river, the right tributary of the river Chulyshman, uchar waterfall is the largest drain in Russia. This is a very beautiful cascade waterfall with a height of 160 m, but requires a long hike to get to it.
Another, but no less spectacular — “Stone Mushrooms“, stone outcrops formed as a result of denudation. Located in the valley of the river Chulyshman, which can be reached in two ways: on the Teletskoye lake or on the vehicle over the pass katu-Yaryk, leading to the valley of Chulyshman.
The presence of numerous rock paintings, petroglyphs, ancient tombs make the Altai a unique archaeological, historical monument, a kind of outdoor Museum.
In the valley of the river Elangash, originating from the slopes of the South Chuya ridge, is the most famous and rich in a concentration of rock paintings.
In the South-East of the Altai Republic is the Ukok plateau, which forms the border with Mongolia and the border with China stretching for 40 km In the West of the plateau borders with Kazakhstan.
The Ukok plateau perhaps is the most mystical with respect to all the known burials in the Altai. In 1993, the plateau has brought worldwide fame sensational discovery of the rich burials of Scythian women. The age of the finds is estimated at more than two and a half thousand years, she was named one of the most important discoveries of the last time in archeology. The indigenous people believe the mummy is their progenitor and call it the “Altai Princess”.
After the discovery of the “Altai Princess” was taboo in all sorts of archaeological research on the plateau. Since then, this area in the international community is called “quiet Zone Ukok” that doesn’t stop the indefatigable travellers to look at the burial place, in spite of the difficult terrain.
Teletskoe lake is situated at an altitude of 436 m above sea level, its length is 78 km, average width about 3 km, the maximum one is 5 km, and the maximum depth of 325 m. About 70 rivers and 150 temporary streams flow into the lake, the largest of them, Chulyshman River, supplying more than half of the lake’s water. The lake is drained through a single outlet, the Biya River, which, after its confluence with the Katun River, forms one of Siberia‘s largest rivers, the Ob River.. The local people for centuries called the lake Altyn-Kel, which in a literal translation from Turkic language means “Golden lake”.
Teletskoye lake is one of the most interesting and most visited natural attractions. The Northern coast became the object of mass tourism in the early twentieth century. In 1928 here was laid the first stationary tent camp “Bear”, which later turned into a tourist base “Golden lake”, which became a forerunner of tourism in the Altai.
Pleasant purchase in the Altai are made from wood and stone. Various charms, talismans, amulets, made by local craftsmen from cedar, cedar chips, ceramics, stewed larch is widely represented in the souvenir shops located along the Chuiskiy tract, on lake Teletskoye and in the city of Gorno-Altaisk. But when buying a gift you need to be careful that instead of these local wares do not bring home Chinese goods.
Individual words deserves honey. Unique climate, pristine nature, the lack of industrial enterprises together create a unique in its qualities and properties of the product, which is one of the two most famous regional brands of honey in Russia (along with Bashkir). Produced in the territory of Altai Krai and the Altai Republic.
The most popular varieties of honey Altai mountain, taiga, meadow, differing both in properties and price categories. It is extremely important to know the characteristics of real honey, not to become the owner of forgery.
In General, the inhabitants of Altai is a friendly, positive-minded people, for many of which tourism is a way of earnings. Many local residents are employed in the tourism industry, and is treated with due respect to the tourists, if they do not go beyond the limits. We all know that “in a strange monastery with own regulations do not go”, so you should respect other people’s traditions and customs.
As for medical security, some areas may experience ticks, vaccination is desirable or insurance against tick-borne encephalitis.
Where to stay
Booking.com offers more than 125 hotels of Altai. You can choose a hotel using a variety of filters: the star hotel, type of hotel (hotel, apartment, Villa, hostel, etc.), cost, location, scores of people visited the hotel, the presence of Wi-Fi and more.
In addition to traditional hotels featured above, you can rent apartments in Altai it may be convenient for some categories of tourists – families with multiple children who prefer to cook themselves and so on.