Altai Republic

ALTAI republic - республика АЛТАЙ

The area called Altai embraces two territorial entities of Russia: the Altai Кrai (Barnaul) and the Altai Republic (Gorno-Altaisk). While the Altai Krai is mostly flat, the Altai Republic is mostly mountainous and therefore much more scenic. It is deservedly considered to be the pride and pearl of Siberia. There is probably no other place that combines the beauty of Tibet and the Alps like this marvelous corner of the world. Some revere the region as a major pole of spiritual energy.

Gorno-altaisk - горно-алтайск

The small capital of the Altai Republic is located in a cosy valley. The town was founded in 1830 and has no significant attractions. The main landmarks are: a photogenic wooden  church, a rather big WWII memorial and administrative buildings around Lenin square.

The National Theatre.

The Kurultai (Parliament).

Undoubtedly, the major attractions of Altai are its beautiful and diverse nature, scenic views, crystal clear cold lakes, waterfalls, caves and traces of ancient civilizations. Just mere driving across Altai by its main road called the Chuisky Trakt gives you a chance to see picturesque landscapes, petroglyphs, burial mounds, ancient monuments, mountains, steppes and forests. The best views are between Aktash and Kosh-Agach.

In October.

The same view in July.

The well-known attraction of Altai is kamennaya baba (stone she-idols). Some are found just 200-300 meters from the Chuisky Trakt. All faceless.

A faced one can be seen near Kosh-Agach together with a ritual stone mound, prayer flags and a sacrificial facility to sacrifice lambs and babies.

In the village of Inya Lenin mounts what used to be a Buddhist stupa.

From Aktash a dirt road leads to a small gorge called “Red Gate”. Having a sturdy 4WD vehicle one can go by this road as far as Lake Teletskoe seeing other lakes, waterfalls, burial mounds and erosional rock pillars known as “Mushrooms” as well as the dramatic Katu-Yaryk canion.

The Red Gate gorge.

The Katu-Yaryk canyon. The road zigzags down the slope for 3.5 km. Use low gear.



If a car traveler dares venture right or left from the main road, he will see more scenic views.

The turquoise blue Katun River is fast and crystal clear.

Grey cranes occur naturally in Altai.

Rain shower over the plateau near Kosh-Agach.

Symbolic entrance gate to Kosh-Agach.

Statues of Altai revered animals: a camel, an eagle and a yak bull.

In Chemal a wobbly cable bridge over the Katun River leads to a small island with a tiny wooden church rebuilt recently to the original 1849 design. Views are very pretty.

There is much more to see and to experience in Altai. A more detailed itinerary can be worked out on request.

Upon exploring Altai, a car traveler can take a short cut by country lanes to Kemerovo oblast or undertake an extreme drive from Altai to Tuva by a rough track running sometimes as close as 100 meters along the Russian-Mongolian border. Special preparation is required for this trip both technically and administratively. A pass from Altai and Tuva KGB must be obtained for traveling through border zones.