Altai has always attracted us with its mysterious beauty. And finally, we arrived in Gorno-Altaysk and begin our twenty-day expedition, in which we will try to tell about the people living here, their history, culture and the unique nature of these places.
The cars are ready, and we go to the border with the Altai Territory, where we will get acquainted with the cascade of waterfalls on the Shinok River.
The road to the gorge is rather difficult, and after the last rain, in some places it became difficult to pass.
In the evening we got to the gorge. We set up our first camp in a picturesque place on the banks of the Shinok River.
The Shinok river valley has steep rocky slopes.
Its uniqueness lies in the large accumulation of waterfalls with a water drop of ten to seventy meters and located at a distance of up to a kilometer from each other. They were discovered at the turn of the 19th – 20th centuries, but they gained popularity only a century later.
Video: World of Adventures – Mountain Altai. Cascade of waterfalls on the Shinok river.
After enjoying the beauty of the gorge with waterfalls, we go to the valley of the Anui River to the Denisova Cave, in which the remains of a man belonging to a completely new subspecies were found.
Locals call this cave Ayu-Tash, which means “Bear’s Stone” in Altai. From generation to generation they pass on the legend that the Black Shaman lived here in ancient times – evil and very powerful. He turned into a huge bear and ruled over the Altai nomads, forcing them to pay a huge tribute In 1926, the outstanding Russian archaeologist and great artist Nicholas Roerich visited the cave.
So, we go to the cave, where the employees of the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, together with scientists from Australia, are carrying out excavations.
Another cave, Ust-Kanskaya, together with the adjacent territory, is a natural monument of national importance. This natural monument of the Early Paleolithic became world famous due to the fact that this is the first such site of ancient people identified in North Asia.
The entrance to the cave is located at a height of fifty meters from the foot of the mountain.
The remains of a scinthorus were found in it; it is believed that in Altai it disappeared before mammoths and rhinos became extinct. The tools of ancient man’s labor were found in the cave: incisors, scrapers, tips with traces of processing, as well as the remains of hearths.
Since the late 90s, scientists from the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences have also been conducting research here.
And we hit the road again. Today we have to spend the whole day on the road and get to one of the most beautiful places in Gorny Altai – the cascade of the Multinsky lakes, located in the northwestern part of the Katunsky ridge, south of the village of Multa at an altitude of seventeen hundred to two thousand meters above sea level.
We knew that the road would be difficult, but we could not even imagine that overcoming this route would be a real challenge for our drivers and cars.
The last section of the road from the village of Multa to the cascade of the Multinsky Lakes is the most difficult, and the rain that passed the day before made our path as difficult as possible and it remains to be hoped that the cars will withstand, and today we will be able to get to the camp site located on the shore of Lake Nizhne-Multinskoye.
And the coming darkness made our path even more difficult.
Morning has come.
After a little rest after a hard road, we look forward to getting acquainted with the virgin beauty of the Multinsky lakes from all sides, surrounded by snowy peaks and wild taiga forests.
Yes! This unique corner of the wild nature of Gorny Altai can rightfully be considered one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
We spent the whole day here enjoying the wonderful beauty of these places.
Video: World of Adventures – Mountain Altai. Multinsky lakes.
And we go to the village of Verkh-Uimon, Ust-Koksinsky district, where the memorial House-Museum of the great Russian artist Nicholas Roerich is located.
The museum is located on the territory of the former estate of the Old Believer Vakhramey Atamanov, where Nicholas Roerich stayed in August 1926.
This year marks the 90th anniversary of his Central Asian expedition. For this event, an exhibition of original paintings by the great Russian artist was organized in the House-Museum.
Further our way passes through the Uimon valley.
This fabulous corner, lost among the magnificent landscapes of Gorny Altai, amazes with its diversity: bright steppe, snow-capped mountain peaks and numerous mountain rivers that flow into the main waterway of the Katun River.
By the end of the day we reached the Karakol Valley, where we will stop for the night in a picturesque place on the banks of the river of the same name.
In the morning we go to the Karakol ethno-natural park “Uch Enmek”.
The Karakol Valley is about three kilometers wide and stretches along the Karakol River between the Chuisky tract and the Terekta ridge.
Altaians have considered it sacred since ancient times. In addition to its own amazing mysterious beauty, the Karakol valley is rich in numerous monuments of history and archeology.
Ancient cultures replaced each other here without destruction, smoothly flowing in time. There are whole groups of ancient burial mounds, which are one of the mysteries of Gorny Altai.
They belong to the Karakol culture that existed in Altai from the middle of the 3rd to the middle of the 2nd millennium BC.
Near the mounds there are balbals – stone steles. They all have a mandatory bias. It is believed that in this way the cardinal directions were designated to direct the souls of the dead towards the worlds where they were to go.
The rocks at the foot of the sacred mountains are dotted with cave paintings dating back to different historical periods.
At the end of our visit to the Karakol Valley, we go to the village of Mendur-Sokkon to visit the local museum of traditional Altai culture and life.
Here we will meet with an amazing person Barsbek Kindikov. He is a musician, teacher and keeper of the ancient culture of the Altai people.
And we go further to the place, sacred for the Altai, where the rapid flow of the Chuya River literally bursts into the calm turquoise Katun.
Charged with the extraordinary energy of this place, we move on.
We will go along the Chuisky tract to another place of rare beauty – the mysterious Geyser Lake with its amazing turquoise water color.
On the way, we need to collect firewood, since in the next two or three days we will cross the desert area, and there we will have to rely only on our own supplies.
And finally, a magnificent panorama of the Geyser Lake opened before us!
Video: World of Adventures – Confluence of the Katun and Chuya rivers. Chuisky tract. Geyser lake.
Further the forest ends, and we move along the high-mountainous steppe region along the mountain ranges.
Turning off the Chuisky tract towards the village of Chagan-Uzun, we find ourselves in the wild desert area of the Kyzyl-Chin river valley. There is another amazing place here – this is Mars in Altai!
The mountain slopes of the valley are painted in the most unexpected shades, from yellow and red, to purple and white, and look absolutely unreal, more reminiscent of the scenery for science fiction films.
There is almost no vegetation here, only in the shade of ravines, where water accumulates during precipitation, you can find rare bushes.
So, we are going for a walk to get to know this amazing world of the Kyzyl-Chin river valley.
After enjoying the fantastic landscapes of the Kyzyl-Chin river valley, we go to the South Chuisky ridge, where, surrounded by the snow-white peaks of the Altai Mountains, the Akkol River flows through a picturesque valley, which originates at the foot of the Sofia glacier.
On the way we meet very colorful camels who have chosen this valley.
This time, we decided to organize an overnight stay in a picturesque place, by the stream flowing into the Akkol River.
We will spend two days here. Tonight, our guides organized a pleasant surprise for us – a hiking bath.
A wonderful dinner and rest by the fire, under the gentle murmur of a stream, gave us another wonderful evening alone with the wild nature.
Morning has come, and we set off to the foot of the Sofia glacier.
And finally, a fantastic panorama of the Sophia glacier opened before us.
It is one of the largest in Altai. Its height is 2620 meters above sea level, and its area is over 17.5 square meters. km.
Unfortunately, at present the glacier is retreating, for half a century of observations, in some places its length has decreased by 1000 meters.
And we go further to the foot of the glacier to feel its icy power and enjoy the beauty of this unique corner of the Altai Land.
Yes! Perhaps it was the peak of our emotions! And I do not want to realize that a person with his thoughtless activity can destroy this fragile world of wild nature.
Video: World of Adventures – Mountain Altai. Sophia glacier.
And we have to go. In the morning we will drive up to the mountains to see the unusual canyon formed in a narrow gorge.
By lunchtime the weather cleared up, and we set off in a good mood.
So, ahead of us is a difficult crossing over the Teply Klyuch pass and an acquaintance with the harsh nature of the Ukok mountain plateau.
On the way, we will stop at the Tarkhatinsky megalithic complex.
It was built during the Bronze Age. According to scientists, the complex was associated with astronomical phenomena and was used to measure time and keep a calendar.
Today we will have to change our plans, as one of the cars had a gearbox. We will spend the night in the nearest settlement, and tomorrow, we hope, another car will arrive and we will continue our expedition.
The organizer of our expedition, Konstantin Grebennikov, did not disappoint, and in the morning a new “steel horse” was waiting for us.
And finally we got to the town of “Dzhumalinskiye Kluchi” in order to try out huts-baths, which have baths with running radon water.
For the Altai people, this place is sacred, they believe in the power of the source and come here with whole families to rest and improve their health.
Radon baths, amazingly clean mountain air and accumulated fatigue helped us relax in the rays of the setting sun, and we decide to stay overnight in one of the wooden guest houses equipped with a stove-stove, since we managed to stock up on firewood in advance.
At night, the air temperature dropped to minus four degrees. Everything around was covered with snow, and from this the surrounding mountain slopes became even more beautiful.
So, we go through the Teply Klyuch pass to the Ukok mountain plateau.
Lost among rocky mountains, at an altitude of more than two thousand meters above sea level, at the junction of the borders of Russia, Kazakhstan, China and Mongolia, the Ukok Plateau is perhaps one of the most beautiful and mysterious places in Altai Mountains.
It has undergone changes to a lesser extent since ancient times and therefore retained the landscape structure of the Ice Age.
For local residents, Ukok means “the end of everything,” and according to their beliefs, these pastures lie on the threshold of the firmament.
Today we will spend at a small haystack equipped by huntsmen on the bank of a small river flowing along a mountain plateau.
Morning came and we set off further along the mountain plateau to the Ak-Alakha burial ground. It was there that the mummy of Princess Kadyn was found.
Ancient people trusted the bodies of their ancestors to this land, sending them on their last journey. Kurgan burials have survived to this day, and not all of them have been studied by scientists.
The Ukok plateau became especially famous after the mummy of the Altai princess Kadyn was found here, in one of the mounds.
This burial belongs to the period of the Altai Pazyryk culture and was made in the 5th-3rd centuries BC.
Thanks to this find, it became clear that in those distant times a strong developed civilization already existed here. The inhabitants of these hard-to-reach highland regions wore clothes made of the finest silk and knew how to make gold and bronze jewelry.
Interestingly, long before the opening of the tomb, there was already a legend in local folklore telling about Princess Kadyn.
Video: World of Adventures – Mountain Altai. Dzhumaly keys. Ukok.
Sailyugem National Park is an area of untouched wilderness on the border with Mongolia.
We will spend three days here. And we will live in comfortable houses in the park.
The park is surrounded by amazingly beautiful sandstone, karst, shale and lava mountain slopes. They create a unique relief filled with multi-colored shades of paint.
It is home to the largest population of the Altai mountain sheep – argali, the largest subspecies of argali.
So, we are going to get acquainted with the Saylyugem National Park.
On the way back, we decided to stop at the “winter road” of one of the local shepherds.
Here we will cook lunch and have a little rest before the long journey to the Katu-Yaryk pass.
Video: World of Adventures – Mountain Altai. Saylyugemsky Nat. a park.
The Chulyshman River Valley is one of the most picturesque places in Altai Mountains.
A narrow gorge, framed on both sides by sheer cliffs up to six hundred meters high, stretches to the southern shore of Lake Teletskoye.
Here is the Katu-Yaryk pass, perhaps one of the most difficult and dangerous in Altai. It offers a magnificent panorama of the Chulyshman river valley.
Sheer inaccessible rocks now converge almost closely, up to several hundred meters, then again move apart for several kilometers.
In this picturesque place, we will spend two days.
Tomorrow we will get acquainted with an amazing geological formation – “Stone mushrooms”.
We will also make several transitions to the waterfalls surrounding the gorge, pouring their waters into the turbulent streams of the Chulyshman River.
The main purpose of our stay at the Katu Yaryk pass is to get acquainted with the Uchar waterfall – the largest cascading waterfall in Siberia, with a water drop of 160 meters.
Today we have a rather difficult five-hour trek along the picturesque path of the Chulcha river canyon.
And finally, a magnificent panorama of the Uchar waterfall opened before us.
We finish our acquaintance with the beauties of the Chulyshman river valley and go to the southern shore of Lake Teletskoye, Cape Karsai.
This night, which completes our expedition, we will spend in tents on the shores of Lake Teletskoye, and of course we will have a festive dinner.
In the morning a strong wind rose, and we were not sure if the ferry would arrive today.
In the morning our ferry arrived, on which our cars will go to the village of Artybash.
Well, we, on a comfortable boat, go to the place where the Altai spiritual mission was located in the 19th century.
It was here that the first Orthodox missionary from the Altai, Mikhail Vasilyevich Chevalkov, lived.
A magnificent view of Lake Teletskoye opens from here.
Next stop, at the Korbu waterfall.
This concludes our expedition. We are sadly leaving this wonderful world of wild nature of Altai mountains. Along the water surface of Lake Teletskoye, we head to the final point of our expedition – the village of Artybash.
In conclusion, I would like to thank the organizers of such a difficult expedition, Konstantin Grebennikov and the Altai VIP Tour company, as well as our guides and drivers Andrey and Valery, real professionals in their field.
Together we managed to overcome this difficult twenty-day path, enjoying the amazing beauty of Altai mountains.
World of Adventures – Film: “Beauty of Altai Mountains”.