Altai Golden Ring
See the UNESCO World Heritage site of Altai natural diversity that you will experience by boat, car and on foot; the beauty of the biggest river of the Altai Mountains — Katun; and the touch of the ancient Altai culture most apparent during original performances by throat singers and local musicians. Visit the middle of Asia, discover the undiscovered!
Itinerary Hide all details
Arrive in Barnaul in the morning and drive by a comfortable bus through the old town of Biysk where the ancient trade route—the northern path of the Silk Road—started.
Altai is magnificent and beautiful at any time of the year.
We will visit the village and Lake Manzherok to see water nut—chestnut, preserved from the pre-ice age. Lunch in a café. After lunch, we will ascend by cable car to Malaiya Sinukha Mountain (1196 metres above sea level) to enjoy the beautiful Katun valley views. Next stop is the mineral spring Arzhan-Suu. Water in this spring is full of silver, copper and other minerals; which is why it is kept for a long time and has a healing effect.
We will visit a local souvenir market to see items made of local cedar. We will proceed further to Chemal village, located in the heart of the Altai Mountains. As for accommodation, it will be a hotel in comfortable double-sharing rooms. Dinner at the café.
Spend the morning on the “Chemal walk”. During the tour, we will visit the Chemal hydroelectric power station which is located in the southern part of the village. This hydroelectric power plant is one of the first in the region and was built in 1935. Go along the river Katun to a tiny rocky island Patmos, to visit an old monastery. To get to the island we will need to pass over a suspension bridge, which connects it with the river banks.
Take a tour to the national Altai dwelling - an "Ail". During your visit to Ail, you can experience an atmosphere of the tenth to the thirteenth centuries; you can travel back in time and get acquainted with the way of life, traditions, customs, culture, history and pagan religion of the Altai nomadic tribes. After lunch at "Kedr" eco-lodge, take a tour to Oroktoiski bridge to the narrowest and deepest place on the Katun river. On the way, we will visit the tract Che-Chkysh, and take a short climb along the creek to reach a viewing platform. We’ll then return to the lodge for dinner and for an overnight stay.
We’ll keep driving along the Chuysky Tract through its highest point, Seminsky Pass (1739 m above the sea level), and we will reach ethno-cultural park “Uch-Enmeck”, to tour around and see how locals lived centuries ago.
Drive further to the Karakol river. Accommodation is in eco lodge “Karakol” with four-bed yurts or ails with outdoor facilities. Traditional cuisine will be served for dinner.
Archi is a cultured dairy product, which tastes very much like yogurt; Altai cheese Kurot is made of goat’s milk; Talhan - a specially processed wheat mixed with butter and honey and shaped into balls.
Late in the evening you will enjoy a folk program with throat singing and national musical instruments accompanied by the light of the fire and bright stars. This performance is the best way to experience the true spirit of Altai people and feel their devotion to this land and their heritage. Coming back to your ail, you will feel like you are traveling in a time-machine back through the ages. Before going to sleep, the Altai make a fire in the center of the ail, and the smoke exits through a hole in the roof. Ancient Altai household decorations create a special flavor and evoke the spirit of the time.
Karakol Valley is believed to be a sacred place among the natives. They believe the ancient monuments of the valley represent an informational code to the laws of the universe. The people of the valley believe they are spiritually connected with nature and their homeland.
There is a decent number of archeological monuments in the valley: stellas, or stelae; stone fences; Tumuli with balbals—the main part of them faces Uch-Enmek peak. We will visit the Bashadar Tumuli group, a very special sacred place. Geomagnetic waves do not behave according to any rules here—maybe the legends of the Altai people are true? Who knows.
We drive to the conflux of the two rivers, the Katun and the Chuya. On the way, we pass the Chike-Taman mountain pass (1295 metres above sea level). Then we’ll visit Kalbak-Tash Hole and will see rock paintings—petroglyphs. More than 500 formations are present, with more than five thousand pictures, drawn on the rocky, flattened elevation, situated across the valley of the Chuya River. The petroglyphs are all carved with stone or metal tools, using a dotted pattern. The most ancient pictures date back to the eighth century BC.
Keep going along the Chuysky Tract—part of the ancient Silk Road—toward the Mongolian border near the highest peaks: Actry-Bash (4075 m) and Karatash (3534 m).
We will take a short and easy hike to the picturesque geyser lake. The lake is the only one of its kind in the Altai—a rare beauty: clean; unfrozen, even in winter; and of amazing turquoise colour. Reflections of the processes taking place at the bottom of the lake can be seen on its surface. There, in the mysterious depth, "geysers" come to life, from time to time throwing on the surface a mixture of bluish clay and sand that make visible concentric circles at the bottom. Afterwards, we’ll return to our base camp.
Next, we'll pass the natural monument Red Gates, where the road goes through a narrow passageway between two rocks of reddish color; then we’ll reach Chjejbekkol (Dead) Lake and Uzunkol (Live) Lake, teeming with fish.
Descent from the Katu-Yaryk pass to the Chulyshman River. We go down by a narrow serpentine road, carved directly into the hillside. With a slope on the right and a fall of several hundred metres on the left; we will walk down the valley and our luggage will be carried by a van.
Enjoy the magnificent views of the Chulyshman valley and waterfalls of hundred metres in height. The Chulyshman valley is one of the most beautiful places in Altai and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We will make our arrival in the eco camp “Ezen” in the Chulyshman Valley.
Then, a hiking tour to the waterfall Kurkure across the Chulyshman river. The waterfall is incredibly powerfull and strong and at the same time has a delicate natural beauty. The falls are more than 30 metres in height.
Locals worship this marvel of nature, and consider this place as sacred. The hiking takes about 3 - 4 hours. In the afternoon we will try some active outdoor local games. It's gonna be fun!
Dinner, then Russian banya at the end of a busy day.
Early breakfast. We will do a moderate hike to the Karasu river ravine to see a unique natural object— the “Stone Mushrooms”; cones rising above the slope of the valley on the tops of which, as if by magic, huge rocky plates lay. The foundation of the cone is rather friable sandstone. Some “mushrooms” rise above the slope up to 10 metres or even more. The great majesty and beauty of nature are felt most in the areas like this, where you will hardly see any signs of civilisation for many kilometres around. Comfortable trekking shoes are recommended.
After lunch, we will drive to Teletskoye Lake to Cape Kyrsay. Stay at eco-lodge, dinner. Russian banya (bath-house).
Teletskoe Lake is the most beautiful and famous in Altai region.
Boat trip on Teletskoye lake. The lake is one of the world twenty deepest, though it is not very large, at only 223 square kilometres. However, due to its depth (average 175 m) the water is so pure that visibility is 100% for at least 15 metres down. Visit Korbu waterfall, the most picturesque waterfall in the area. The deepest part of the lake, 325 metres, is just in front of the waterfall. Old Altai legend says that a golden sword of Khan Tele fell down right here and that is how the lake emerged.
Accommodation in a hotel on the banks of the Biya river. There will be an opportunity to purchase some local souvenirs: honey, local herbs, art, items made of cedar. Dinner in a cafe. Come back to the campsite for lunch. Then onto Teletskoye Lake and then to Cape Kyrsay. Accommodation is in the tourist complex of the same name. Dinner. Russian banya (bath-house).
Breakfast. Departure to Gorno-Altaisk and visit the National Museum and its world-renown exhibit, the mummy of the “Altai Princess”, found on Ukok Plateau. Lunch in a cafe. Transfer to the small local airport for your departure flight, or drive to the bigger airport of Barnaul which has a wider choice of flights.
Here your guide will say his final farewells, and your Altai adventure comes to an end.
- Accommodation as per program
- All ground transportation by minibus
- 3 meals a day according to a program
- All tours as per program
- English-speaking guide
- Folk entertainment with throatsinging
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Sights included in program
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