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 is much more scenic. 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 photogenic wooden church catches an eye.

In 2021 local clerics decided to improve the entrance.

The clerics' office stands next to the church.

Gorno-Altaisk boasts a big WWII memorial.

The National Theatre.

The Kurultai (Parliament).

The central square.

chuisky trakt – чуйский тракт

The major attraction of Altai Republic is its beautiful and diverse nature. Just mere driving by its main road called the Chuisky Trakt towards border with Mongolia gives you pleasure and a chance to see picturesque landscapes, petroglyphs, monuments, mountains, steppes and forests.

The upside down home in the village of Manzherok (Манжерок) soon after Gorno-Altaisk.

On top of the Seminsky Pass 1,717 m ASL. The stela was erected in 1956 to mark the 200th anniversary of Altai's incorporation into the Russian Empire.

The best views are between Aktash (Акташ) and Kosh-Agach (Кош-Агач).

In early October.

The same view in mid-July.

The Kurai Steppe (Курайская Степь).

The well-known attraction of Altai is kamennaya baba (stone she-idols). They are presumed to be thousands years old. The presumption is rather questionable. Some are found just 200 meters from the Chuisky Trakt near the village of Inya (Иня). Their number changes over the time from two to five pieces. One year somebody builds a fence around babas. Next year somebody destroys the fence in an attempt to lend authenticity.

2009. Two idols. No fence. The third one stands about 200 m away.

2014. Four idols. The fence is not painted. The fifth one still stands 200 m away.

2015. The four fenced idols are intact. The fence is painted. The fifth idol is missing. Has moved to somebody's private collection.

2021. The fence is demolished. The four idols are still standing. The fifth one hasn't come back.

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

In 2021 Lenin changed colour from gold to silver.

The WWII memorial in Inya.

The monument commemorating the 1918-1922 Civil War.

23 km south of Inya look left for a stone idol that looks quite authentic. Well preserved petroglyphs are on the rocks behind the idol.

kosh-agach – кош-агач

The entry gate to the Kosh-Agach county.

Another group of three stone idols and a sacrificial site to sacrifice lambs and babies is several km before Kosh-Agach.

Two idols are faceless. One is faced.

Double faced. (Phillips Connor, Singapore).

Symbolic entrance gate to Kosh-Agach.

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

More scenic views around Kosh-Agach.

Rain shower over the plateau near Kosh-Agach.

First snowfalls occur in early October.

Rare travelers rejoice first snow on a sunny day.

LADA is a good car to travel by the Chuisky Trakt.


From Aktash (Акташ) a dirt road leads to Lake Teletskoe via the Red Gate Gorge and the dramatic Katu-Yaryk (Кату-Ярык) Canyon.

The Red Gate gorge.

The Katu-Yaryk canyon is about 100 km from Aktash. The road zigzags down the slope for 3.5 km. Use low gear.



Geyser  lake – гейзерное озеро

The Geyser Lake is located in the forest a bit off the road right after Aktash. You should pay a small entry fee to the people who have built and maintain a wooden trail to the lake over the boggy terrain. There are no geysers gushing from the lake. It only changes colour due to gases seeping from the bottom.

The turquoise blue Katun (Катунь) River is fast and crystal clear.

chemal – чемал

In the village of Chemal 100 km from Gorno-Altaisk 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.


Grey cranes occur naturally in Altai.

Altai resort

Luxury lovers can find shelter at the Altai Resort Hotel in the village of Urlu-Aspak (Урлу-Аспак). Big accommodation with a private infrared sauna, private ponds for fishing, excellent food, a thorough medical examination and treatment.