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Ecotour to Altai Nature Reserves

13 дней/12 ночей
23 July 2018
Route: Gorno-Altaysk - Lake Teletskoe, Altaisky Nature Reserve - Manzherok, Kamyshlinsky waterfall - Chemalsky tract -Che-Chkysh gorge, Chemal village - Seminsky Pass - Ethno-Nature Park “Uch-Enmek” - Karakol Valley – Lake Aru-Kem - Chuisky Tract – Kalbak-Tash gorge - North-Chuisky ridge – Kyzyl-Chin river valley (Altaian “Mars”) – Chuisky steppe - Geyser Lake - Ulagan district - Pazyryk burial mounds - Arzhan-Suu spring

Day 1: Gorno-Altaysk (50 km drive, 1 km hike)

Arrive in Gorno-Altaysk in the morning (flight from Moscow). Breakfast at the restaurant.  Sightseeing tour to the historical part of the city.

Car transfer to the village Urlu-Aspak (Mayminsky district). Accommodation at the Nature & Recreation complex "Altai Resort". This complex is located in the picturesque area of primordial nature, surrounded with mountain ridges and cedar/larch forest. Accommodation in cottages of Chalet style (class of comfort "Studio" and "Luxury"). Each cottage possesses of the common bay window, fireplace, weak sofas, TV.

Dinner. Two restaurants offer their guests delicious international and Russian cuisine made of natural ecologically pure ingredients produced locally.

In the second half of the day you can visit the shooting club.

A big surprise is waiting for fishermen – you can fish for a trout, muksun and grayling in the local water reservoir.                                        

Dinner at the restaurant. In the evening, you can visit a bath and spa complex located in a separate two-storeyed cottage on the bank of the lake. On the first floor, there is a recreation area with fireplace, kitchen and lunch zones, a steam bath, and small swimming pool. On the second floor there is a recreation area and billiards.

Day 2: Horse-riding tour (6-10 km)  

After breakfast you will be offered a horse-ride to the nursery of Siberian stag (maral), where  you can get acquainted with technology of preparation of punts (neogrowing soft antlers). Another option is a horse-riding route to the cave Tut-Kush: about 10 km along the forest trail among century-old cedar pines.

Both excursions take about 2 hours, then we return to the “Altai Resort” complex. Leisure time. Lunch and dinner at the restaurant.   

Day 3:   Gorno-Altaysk. National Museum of the Altai Republic (185 km drive)

Breakfastatthehotel. Transfer to Gorno-Altaysk. Excursion to the Republic Museum of Local Lore (oldest in Altai) named after A.V.Anokhin. This museum was founded in 1918 and completely restored in 2013. Here the archaeological materials from burial mounds Ak-Alakh in the Ukok Plateau are presented. The museum possesses the biggest collection of paintings and graphic works of the first Altai artist G.I. Choros-Gurkin. One of the main exhibits of the museum is the mummy of the "Altai Princess" found in 1993 in the Ukok Plateau (the sarcophagus with a mummy is open on particular days).

A short sightseeing tour of Gorno-Altaysk. Lunch in cafe.

Car transfer to the Lake Teletskoye, a “jewel of Mountain Altai”. It’s extent is 77,7 km, the maximal width is up to 5 km. The lake contains huge amount of excellent oxygenated fresh water (40 km ³).

We arrive to Lake Teletskoye around 18.00, then change to 6WD cars and drive across the taiga forest to the "Altay Village Teletskoe". This luxury magnificent resort is surrounded by mountain massifs and crystal clear lake - the UNESCO World Heritage site. This unique natural complex combines coniferous mountain taiga, alpine meadows, mountain tundra and steppes. Accommodation, dinner at the restaurant.

Day 4: A “jewel of Mountain Altai” (Lake Teletskoe, 140 km transfer by motor boat, 1 km hike)

Excursion by fast motor boats across the whole Teletskoye lake to its northernmost point.  

The lake Teletskoye belongs to the 20 deepest lakes in the world. Its length is 77,7 km, average width - 2-3 km, maximal width - up to 5 km. Its area is not large – 223 км². However, due to its depth (average 175 m, maximum 325 m) it contains huge amount (40 km³) of excellent fresh water saturated with oxygen and transparent to the depth of 12-15 meters. About 70 rivers flow into the lake, though 70 % of all water is given by Chulyshman river flown from south. Giving its waters to the Biya river (98% of drain), the lake feeds the Ob’ to a considerable extent.

On the way we will visit Korbu Waterfall – the most picturesque waterfall in the surroundings of Lake Teletskoye. This territory belongs to the Altaisky State Nature Reserve (Zapovednik). The waterfall height is 12,5 meters. The deepest place of the Teletskoe Lake - 325 meters - is located opposite to this waterfall.

Old Altai legend says that a gold sword of Khan Tele fell down exactly at this place and thus the lake originated.

Near-by, directly from water we will view the small Kishte falls located among majestic and unapproachable rocks. Then we visit the Stone gulf – a meteorite falling place, and have a rest on the southern beaches of the lake near cape Kyrsay in the mouth of the Chulyshman River or Karagay. You will be offered a picnic lunch at the cordon (nature reserve’s wooden hut) with recently caught fish and famous Altai tea.

Return to “Altai Village Teletskoe” hotel complex. Dinner at the restaurant. In the evening, you can visit a SPA complex, hamam or Russian steam bath (banya). 

Day 5: Manzherok, Kamyshlinsky waterfall (250 km drive, 4 km hike)

Breakfast. Transfer to the resort area of the Katun’ River valley. On the way we will visit Manzherok village where the lake and downhill skiing complex is located. “Water nut” chilim (species that remained from pre-glacial period) grows in this lake. Transfer by cableway to Sinyukha Mountain to enjoy a beautiful panoramic view to Katun’ river valley and neighbor villages. Lunch in cafe.

Transfer to Barangol village. Hike to impressive 12-m high Kamyshlinsky falls. Transfer to the tour complex Tursib located on Katun’ river bank Katun. Accommodation. Lodges are built of Siberian cedar pine (handwork). Dinner at the restaurant. 

Day 6: Chemalsky tract (highway), Che-Chkysh gorge, Chemal village (120 km drive, 2 km hike)  

Breakfast. Drive on the Chemalsky tract to Oroktoy bridge, to the most narrow and deep place on Katun’ river. Visit the Che-Chkysh gorge. In Altaian language Che-Chkysh means "narrow", however many locals call it “the Valley of mountain spirits". Due its hidden location, this gorge served as shelter to the Altai tribes during internal wars in ancient times. This place is really beautiful – the mountain gorge with 150-m high steep rocks rising around. The gorge is narrow, in some places up to 15-20 meters. Mountain stream with pure water flows along the gorge, forming small (4 m) waterfall.  There is an ancient belief that everyone who will pass under streams of this waterfall will find gain wealth and health because they have magic force. From the viewing point we will enjoy a magnificent panorama of the Katun’ river valley.

Visit Chemal village, lunch in cafe. After that we will visit the steep rocky Patmos island, where the female skit (division) of Barnaul Znamensky Monastery is located. Long hanging bridge connects the island with the river bank. Near the temple, the image of the Virgin with the baby is cut down in the rock.

We return to tour complex Tursib. Dinner at restaurant. 

Day 7: Taste national cuisine – concert of throat-singing (170 km drive) 

Breakfast. Drive along the ancient trade way – Chuisky tract – across its highest point, Seminsky Pass (1739 above the sea level) to the Ethno-Nature Park “Uch-Enmek”.

Accommodation in tourist complex “Karakol” in double rooms (facilities on the floor).

Lunch with national cuisine (archie — fermented milk product, tastes like yogurt; Altai cheese kurot; talkhan — especially processed wheat mixed with oil and honey and rolled in balls; meat dishes).

Late in the evening at the light of a fire and bright stars you will enjoy a folk program with unique throat singing and playing national musical instruments. This performance awakes deep personal background, helps to feel the spirit of Altai people, natural devotion, allows to enjoy unsurpassed skills of musicians, some of whom are international festivals winners. You will be given a master-class of playing national music instruments.

Ancient Altai household facilities, which decorate the habitation, create a special flavor and a spirit of the time.


Day 8: Karakol Valley – Lake Aru-Kem (60 km drive, 12 km hike)

Breakfast. Excursion “Mysteries of the Sacred valley”. You will get acquainted with archaeological and astronomical constructions of the Karakol river valley.

Since ancient times Karakol valley was considered by Altaian people as a sacred land. A big group of ancient burial mounds and a large number of petroglyphs are located here. The Altaians believe that all the ancient monuments of the valley present an informational code of the laws of the Universe through the prism of traditional culture.  

The local population has especial mentality considering themselves to be in spiritual kinship with nature of the valley. The quests will learn about the history of Altai, get acquainted with archaeological complex of the ancient Pazyryk culture, rock carvings and runic inscriptions. The unique opportunity to discover the secret knowledge, traditions and customs of the people entrusted with the preservation of the cultural wealth of Altai.  Picnic lunch.

Hiking excursion to the mountain lake Aru-Kem (12 km). The sacred snow peaks of Uch-Enmek reflect in the lake water, this mountain is one of the three holy peaks of Altai, it has a particular importance in the lives of the people in Karakol valley.

Return to the tourist complex, dinner at café. Banya. Overnight. 

Day 9: Chuisky Tract – Kalbak-Tash gorge (175 km drive, 1 km hike) 

Breakfast. Drive along the Chuysky Trakt. On the way we will cross the picturesque serpentine mountain pass Chiket-Aman (1295 m above sea level), watch ancient Turkic grave complexes and stone idols. Lunch with traditional Altai cuisine at the café “Chui-Oozy”.

Our further way we will pass by huge limestone pyramid cliffs hanging over the road. Here the river Katun’ is the most swift and deep, flowing extremely fast. Then we will visit “the force place” – confluence of rivers Chuya and Katun’.

We will pass by the sacred place of local people, the so-called “Cross of Spirits”, and stop on the way in Kalbak-Tash gorge to explore a big complex of rock paintings – petroglyphs. There is a unique collection of rock paintings dated from different epochs from Neolite (VI-IV millennium B.C.) through Scythians (VIII centuries B.C. – III A.D.) to Turkic (VII-X centuries A.D.).  More than 500 formations with more than 5 thousand pictures are drawn on the flattened rocky elevation situated across the Chuya River valley. They all are carved with stone or metal tools mainly in dotty technique.

Arrival at ecotour complex “Kochevnik”. Accommodation in double rooms in the newly built house “Ibex” (facilities inside). Dinner in the canteen. Banya (Russian sauna). 

Day 10: North-Chuisky ridge – Kyzyl-Chin river valley (Altaian “Mars”) – Geyser Lake (180 km drive, 7 km hike) 

Breakfast. Excursion towards Mongolian border. Transfer along the Chuyski tract to the Kurai village. Here from a huge intermountain hollow of the Kurai steppe a spectacular view opens to the white tops of North-Chuya Ridge. The highest peaks are Aktru-bash (4075 m) and  Kara-Tash (3534 m). A great place for filming!

We continue drive to the village Chagan-Uzun, where we visit a unique Kyzyl-Chin river valley. Its surrealistic landscapes have colors looking like Mars. Because of high content of Hydrargyrum the mountains are colored from bright orange to dark brown. The valley is situated in the very beginning of the Chuisky steppe, with almost no vegetation. Mountains are not high, hilly, with crevices. All this creates miraculous landscape.

The Chuisky Steppe is a unique nature area with an exotic landscape, flora and fauna. This is a hilly plain located at the altitude of 1700-1900 m above sea level and surrounded by snow-covered mountain ridges. This is a place where civilization gives way to the uninhabited desert. The Chuisky steppe is strewn with archaeological monuments: ancient burial mounds, stony carved images, petroglyphs. The sheer number of these monuments is comparable only with the ancient paintings of the Sakhara or to the South-West of the USA.

Picnic lunch en route. On the way back, we hike towards picturesque geyser lake of rare beauty – the only in Altai of such type. It’s pure water has unusual turquoise color and does not freeze even in winter.

One can notice round or oval stains on the lake surface which reflect the processes taking place on the bottom. There, in mysterious depth, "geysers" come to life from time to time, throwing out a mix of bluish clay and sand which form visible concentric circles at the bottom.  

Transfer back to the tour complex. Dinner. Banya, after which you can plunge into fonts of the mountain river Chibitka. 

Day 11: Red Gate. Pazyryk burial mounds (140 km drive, 1 km hike)

Breakfast. Excursion to Ulagan district: the nature monument “Red Gate”, lakes Chyoibekhol’ (“Dead”) and Uzunkyol’ (Alive), where fish abounds. We pass the Ulagan ridge (2080 m above the sea level) and district center Ulagan, and visit famous Pazyryk burial mounds – graves of tribal chiefs constructed during 3-5 centuries b.C., situated on the right bank of the river Big Ulagan.

See the famous Pazyryk burial mounds (excavations were started in the 1940-s). Numerous articles made of wood and leather, woolen and silk clothes, fur dresses and even embalmed bodies of buried people were found in the frozen compartments. Especially impressive are the wooden adornments made in a so-called Altaian animal style. Now most of these findings can be found in the museums of St.Petersburg, Gorno-Altaisk and other cities.

Very interesting finds were made there: elaborated nap carpet (the most ancient of the known), thinnest woolen fabrics and embroidered Chinese silk fabric. These finds confirm that the ancient population of Altai had widest cultural and trade connections.

Picnic lunch. Return to the tour compex “Kochevnik”. Dinner. 

Day 12: Arzhan-Suu spring (325 km drive)

Breakfast. Transfer to Gorno-Altaysk along the Chuisky tract. We will make a stop on the way near the Arzhan-Suu spring. Its water is saturated with silver, copper and other minerals, and influences the metabolism very favorably.

Near-by there is a big market where you can purchase maps, books, art objects and souvenirs made from cedar. Lunch in café. Accommodation at the hotel “Lesotel”. Farewell dinner at the restaurant. 

Day 13:  Departure (20 km drive)

Breakfast at the hotel (lunch-boxes). Transfer to Gorno-Altaysk airport for the flight home.