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Altai Golden Ring

This tour makes a big circle around the whole Altai region, and is an all-in-one adventure.

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!

Type: Small Group Tours
Duration: 10 days

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.

What's included

  • 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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Russian visa support (Russian visa invitation letter) is included.

Sights included in program

Siberia : Altai
Altai is one of Siberia’s most valuable areas of historical and cultural heritage: over 5,000 monuments of archeology, architecture, history and culture are there.  Altai Republic contains the “Golden Mountains of Altai” UNESCO World Heritage Site, three federal protected areas, 120+ natural monuments, and a growing number of regional nature parks and reserves. Remote and wild river valleys, wind-blown steppe, and snow-cap... Read more
Ak-Kurum is translated as “white scree” is on the right bank of Chulyshman River, a few hours away from confluence to Teletskoe Lake. Kurume is usually called a clusters of large boulders and rubble solid rock, formed as a result of weathering on slopes and at feet. A characteristic feature of Kurume is its slow moving down the slope.   Read more
Altai : Bijsk
A small and cozy city Bijsk is located in the south-eastern part of the Altai Territory near the beautiful place where Biya merges with Katun. It is divided into two parts - right-bank and left-bank, which are connected with each other by an old and in many ways unique bridge, which there is not much left in the country. Bijsk is the beginning of the famous Chui tract, which runs through the whole Altai to the border with Mongolia. Read more
Chemal is a village, the administrative center of Chemalsky district of the Altai Republic. The village was founded in 1885. Through the village passes Chemal tract. Read more
The Chike-Taman Pass is on the Chuyskiy Trakt. The altitude of the pass is 1460 meters, but due to its steepness its seems to be considerably higher. For those who drive through this pass for the first time it is really breathtaking, with all its steep rises, sharply winding roads, deep cliffs on both sides and astonishing mountain views! Photos do not convey even a hundredth part of your feeling when you move along the mountain serpentine. In th... Read more
River Chulyshman Valley - The Wind Land The valley of the Chulyshman river is represented by a big canyon with more than 130 km length. There are only two ways to reach it – the first is aquatically through Teletsky Lake and the second is the overland way by a car through Katu-Jaryk pass.  The cleanest Chulyshman river begins at the glacial lake Dzhulukulja, on the way incorporating with smaller rivers and streams from numerous falls... Read more
Chuisky tract bears the proud title of the most beautiful Russian route, this is the main federal road of Altai. She winds along the valleys of seven rivers, between ten mountain ridges, crosses high-altitude steppes and passes. Read more
Karakol Nature Park Uch-Enmek is a specially protected area in the Ongudai district. It was established in 2001 by a decree of the Government of the Altai Republic. In the park there are a lot of cultural and historical monuments of different times and places sacred for Altai people. In 2011, the park expanded - it was joined earlier by the autonomous park "Argut", located 90 km south of the regional center Onguday. Read more
This rare in its origin and amazingly beautiful lake is located on the picturesque expanses of Altai Krai – in Ulagansky district, 7 km from the village Aktash. This is a Geyser lake, which is called Blue and Silver. The depth of the lake is about two meters, its diameter – 25-30 meters. Read more
Gorno-Altaisk or Gorno-Altaysk is a city located in the south of Western Siberia, the capital of the Altay Republic, Russia. It is situated in the northwestern part of the republic, about 3,640 km from Moscow. The population of Gorno-Altaisk is about 62,300 (2015), the area - 95.5 sq. km. Read more
Karakol valley is located in Onguday district of Altai Republic (618 km on Chuysky tract). Since 2001 is a reserved area and a part of the national park Uch-Enmek. In the park there is a sacred mountain Uch-Enmek. Translated from the Altai "uch" means "three" and "enmek" - the top of the mountain. Uch-Enmek has three peaks, the highest of which reaches a height of 2821 m. According to beliefs of the Altai people ordinary people c... Read more
Katu-Yaryk means “Frasture in rock, cramped gorge” in Altai. Katu-Yaryk pass was built in Oct 1989 by three buldozer drivers Akradii Abramovich, his son Anatolii and nephew Viktor Uhanov. The pass and road Balyktuyul – Balykcha was completed after 2 years by initiation “Soviet Altai» state farm director Sanaa Arsentii Viktorovich. Locals used boats and horse trails to get south Teletskoe and Chulyshman Valley before... Read more
Old Hydro power station in Chemal, Altai,Siberia, Russia. A popular tourist plac Read more
Altai : Katun River
Katun is the main river at Altay and is famous for great rafting routes. Also, the first 50 km after Gorno-Altaysk along Katun river is the area with very good infrastructure and can be recommended to those, who have only a few days and want to get a glimpse of what Altay is like. Read more
Korbu is the largest waterfall in the waters of Lake Teletskoye and the most famous tourist attraction of the lake. Except the waterfall Korbu, the top three most visited places during the excursions on the lake are the waterfall Kishte and Stone Bay. Read more
Lake Chuybekkol ( Dead Lake) is located in the upper reaches of the Chibit River at an altitude of 1949 meters above sea level near the Aktash-Ust-Ulagan road (on the 12th kilometer of the Ulagan tract), to the left of the road four kilometers after the Red Gate .The lake is long and relatively narrow, stretched along the road a kilometer by two and a half. Chuybekkol is a freshwater lake, has a crustal origin, feeds on precipitation, underground... Read more
Manzherok Lake (Manzherok, South Manurek) is a lake on the terrace of the right bank of the Katun, at an altitude of 423 meters above sea level. The length of the lake is 1112 m, the maximum width is 400 m, the depth is 2.5-2.8 m, the area is 37.6 ha. Read more
Lake Teletskoye or Altyn-Köl, which means “Golden Lake” is a beautiful, large and very deep (up to 325 meters) lake in the Altai mountains. The size of the lake is 78 km by 5 km and is surrounded by two mountain ridges, named Korbu and Al-Tyntu, at this location the Altai mountains and the Western Sayans come together. Its surface area is 233 sq. km,  but because it is quite deep (325 m), the lake has up to 40 km³ of f... Read more
Lake Uzun-Kol (also called Uzunkol, Uzun-Kel, which in translation from Altai is a long lake) is located in the upper reaches of the right tributary of the Cibitki River at an altitude of 2000 m above sea level to the left of the Aktash-Ulagan route after the Red Gate and Dead Lake Cheybek-Kol), not reaching the Ulagan Pass.In total, there are 20 lakes in the area of ​​the Cibitki River basin for 100 square kilometers. It is the largest reservoir... Read more
Arzhan-Suu Spring (which means “mineral water” in Altai language) is a national nature monument. The water is saturated in silver, copper and other mineral impurities, hence its beneficial effect on the metabolic process of the body. The water from the spring contains a higher quantity of iron than in Esentuky and Borzhomi springs. In the area around the spring the climate is rather mild. The average temperature in January is -13°... Read more
This well-put-together museum offers a good introduction to Altai culture with a range of ethnographic exhibits, wildlife displays and local art and artefacts, including a room dedicated to the Altai landscape painter Grigory Choros-Gurkin. It also houses a stuffed collection of the local wildlife including a snow leopard and an interesting display on prehistoric life in the region (complete with mannequins living in the most sterile looking cave... Read more
Road Aktas Aktas-Ust-Ulagan lied in 15 km from Aktash Village crosses Chibitka River and runs between high cliffs with pronounced reddish hue. This place is called «Red Gate» one of the natural monuments of Altai. Read more
50 km from Chemal there is the narrowest and deepest place of Katun with suspended road bridge. The bridge overlooks the rapids Teldykpen, popular with water tourists. Read more
In a very picturesque place, on Patmos Island of Katun river, nearby Chemal village there is a temple. The island itself was consecrated by bishop Parphentsiy in 1855. Now it is a home to a convent. The place is extremely popular among the tourists and travelers. The way to the island is a narrow suspension bridge, just 10-15 meters above the roaring Katun and such a crossing gives a real thrill. The thrill gets even greater when you notice a ca... Read more
The ancient sanctuary of Kalbak-Tash is only 30 km away from our complex. Translating from Altai language it’s meaning is “ flat stone”. The unique archaeological monument of the Altai Republic was hidden from people until the beginning of the 20th century. It remained unnoticed mostly because the old road was passing above the modern part of the Chuysk tract, and the rock paintings were situated lower, near the steep cliffs of... Read more
Travelling from Gorno-Altaisk (the starting point of our trips) to the Altai mountains, we have to go through two passes. Seminskiy pass is the highest pass (1894 m) on the Chuyskiy tract. For 9 km of getting up the steep road, you will be on the border between Northern and Central Altai. The old Altai name for the pass is “Dyal-Menku”. Larch and pine give place to cedar forest and juniper, alpine herbage including some endemic appear... Read more
Altai : Ulagan Pass
Ulagan pass is located on the road Aktash - Ulagan. Outskirts of pass are very picturesque, there is plenty of lakes there. It is watershed of the Bashkaus and the Chuya River. Indigenous people consider this place sacred, so trees are thickly covered with ribbons and lined by stone pyramids. On the top of pass there is a monument to spirits, a stone circle with a wooden idol inside. Ulagan Pass is located at an altitude of just over 2000 meters,... Read more
Kurkure is a small river, a tributary of the Chulyshman. It flows in a narrow gorge, forming numerous waterfalls. The last one is 30 meter in height Kurkure located in a few kilometers upstream from Katu-Yaryk Pass on the right bank of Chulyshman River. Read more
US$ 2030
per person, based on 2-people group
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Our flexible payment options allow you to pay 20% of a deposit first and the remaining 80% in 14 days prior to your tour date - payment can be done both online or over the phone. This gives you the peace of mind knowing your spaces are booked on the tours and that you do not miss out on making the most of your time in Russia.

Also you get the best, top-rated and most experienced and knowledgeable hand-picked tour guide appointed on a priority basis.
In our experience, exceptional travel experiences are almost always delivered by exceptional people. With that in mind, we utilize a comprehensive approach to select and employ the best tour guides only. Multilingual and well travelled, each possesses deep insight into the diverse attractions and cultural patterns throughout the region. With us guides undergo a rigorous selection process, achieving outstanding knowledge of local culture and language. Rest assured that the best tour guides only will be working on the tours to give you excellent opportunity to explore the best of the sights during both short and long-term stay in Russia.

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