Mountain Adventures - Altai mountains

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Altay - shaman land

The name «Altai» (or «Altay») comes from Mongolian «Altan», which means «golden». The Altai mountains are truly one of the nature's most marvelous gems, amazing by its diversity and beauty. Altai is a land where myths and legends are incarnated into reality.





Arrive in Barnaul.

A representative meets you at the airport. Travel by bus to reach base camp “Vysotnik”, which is situated in a picturesque place on the shore of the Katun river near the village of Tiungur ( 750 km, 10 hours). A “welcome” dinner.

The “Vysotnik” base camp (850 m). Accommodation is in two-story wooden cottage, in rooms housing four people each. Sauna, showers and communal toilets are in a separate nearby building. There is also a sports ground, a parking and a small hiking equipment rental center. Clothes and items not needed for the trek can be left at the check room. All meals are served at the canteen at a set time; the organisation is very similar to a youth summer camp.


Today we start our trek, passing through Kucherla, last populated area on the way to the mountains. We will follow a path through the forest and observe plenty of mushrooms, berries, various kinds of trees and grasses, and may even spot a hare or a deer. Today we have to overcome the Kuzuyak pass (1513 m). The pass isn't high but the walking is pretty hard — it is a test of our stamina. We make camp in a nice meadow on the banks of the Oroktoy brook (1100 m). 6-8 hours hiking, 600 m altitude change.


We continue the ascending along the Oroktoi brook to the Tukhman River (2000 m). We can see how the panorama changes from taiga- deep Siberian forest to high alpine meadows. Overnight is at a picturesque place with great panorama of Mt.Belukha — the highest mountain of Siberia — and surrounding peaks. 7-8 hours hiking, 900 m altitude change.


The trail we are following has the same height level and leads us to the picturesque Kulduairy Lake (2000 m) . We may have a chance to see a maral (a kind of deer) or a marmot. 7-8 hours. Altitude change 100 m.


The distance of our walking is short today: a moderate ascent and then we find ourselves at a plateau with some weirdly shaped rocks and stones. After a short but steep descent we reach our campsite on the banks of the Tekeliu River (1800 m). In the afternoon we have an optional hike upstream along the river to see two waterfalls. 3-4 hours hiking, altitude change 500 m.


After breakfast we are crossing the Tekeliu River and climbing the Sarybel pass. After long ridge traverse and steep descent we are coming to the Yarlu valley. Then we should cross the Ak-kem River and in a half of an hour we finally reach our permanent high camp (1950 m) where we have dinner and stay for one day. There is a canteen, a sauna and a traditional Altai building — ail (some kind of wooden yurt). This camp boasts hypnotic views of the huge snowy massif of Mount Belukha. 7-8 hours, altitude change 600 m.


An excursion day to the Ak-ojouk valley, which is famous for its seven lakes all of different hues (5-7 hours hiking, altitude change 400 m), or to the Yarlu valley — the high energy place with “stones town” which was created by people visiting Yarlu for a meditation.


Today we leave our high camp and start the second part of our trekking. We have to work by climbing up the Karatiurek pass (3060 m). The descend from the pass is steep and goes on talus. We camp in the the cedar forest. 6-8 hours hiking, altitude change 1000 m.


Short ascent on a plateau – and we are descending, through the taiga, to the incomparable the Kucherla Lake (1760 m). The water of the Ak-kem and Kucherla Lakes calls “dead” and “alive” accordingly. There is a lot of fish in Kucherla. The camp is at the shore of the lake. 4-6 hours, altitude change 300 m.


Gradual descent down the Kucherla River. We make a stop to look at the ancient petroglyphs on a rock. Return to the base camp “Vysotnik”. Rest and festival dinner.


Travel to the city of Barnaul.



There are 10 days of moderate and strenuous hiking by varied landscapes (maximum elevation is 3 060 m). Long passages are quite demanding, though technically they are not hard, a reasonable degree of fitness is required. The trekkers either carry all their personal belongings plus 4-5 kg of communal equipment (tents, cooking pots) and food for 4-5 days or hire horses for the luggage transportation.


The weather in mountains changes rather quickly. There may be precipitation there. The day temperature is +10+30, the night 0 +10. The guide is able to change the programme because of the weather and the other troubles.


A representative provides the participants with 3 meals a day. In the base camps meals are in the canteen. On the trek the food is cooked on the open fire by a guide.Altai_I49


A representative provides the group with tents, cooking pots.

You should bring the following items with you:

  • sleeping mat,
  • sleeping bag;
  • jacket shorts,
  • t-shirt for hot weather,
  • warm clothes (at nights it gets chilly) trekking boots,
  • waterproofs,
  • rucksack.