Golden Mountains of Altai Adventure Tour

An adventure in Altai that will unfold a side of Siberia whose beauty defies description.
This Adventure takes place in the Altai Mountains, almost as far as the Mongolian border - horse riding, hiking and rafting along the way.

This awe-inspiring circuit within the dramatic Altai Mountain range crosses vast distances to reach some of the most beautiful places in Siberia. Stretching from the capital, Gorno-Altaysk almost to the Mongolia and China borders and back, this Altai adventure takes you into the rugged heart of this untamed region. Along the way, sample some of the adventure activities that have put Altai on the map among an exclusive set of intrepid travellers. Experience hiking, rafting and horse-riding and a road trip along the Chuysky Trakt, named by National Geographic Russia as one of the most beautiful roads in the world.

This Altai Mountains tour showcases Altai’s amazing biodiversity and unique mix of ethnicities and cultures. Once the domain of roaming nomadic tribes, today you’ll be welcomed by some their ancestors in traditional villages scattered across Altai’s plains and valleys.

ALTAI ADVENTURE TOUR HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Walk the narrow suspension bridge over the might Katun River in Chemal to Patmos Island, the site of an old wooden monastery
  • Experience whitewater rafting on the internationally renowned Katun River. Start by exploring a broad, calm section of the river, working your way up to thrilling high-speed rapids
  • Travel as the Altayan nomads did on a horse riding tour to a high pass with stunning views over hundreds of kilometres of magnificent mountain ranges 
  • Visit Lake Teletskoye, known as the sacred Golden Lake to the locals. Altai’s largest lake is set between two mountain ridges, hiding remote beaches and cascading waterfalls only accessible by boat.
  • Learn about the noble nomadic tribes of the past at the Pazyryk Barrows, an Iron Age archaeological site where the 2,400-year-old tomb of the famous Altai Ice Maiden was discovered.
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Arrival

Departure

Accomodation

Trip style

Gorno-Altaysk

Gorno-Altaysk

Eco Lodges

Nature, Adventure, Eco

Duration

Action rating

Group size

Type of tour

11 Days / 10 Nights

     

6-16 people

Guaranteed departures

Day 1:Gorno-Altaysk and Chemal

Our Altai adventure begins in Gorno-Altaysk, capital of the Altai Republic. After meeting at the airport, we’ll leave the city heading south to Altai’s main tourist destination – Chemal. After hotel accommodation, we embark on a tour of the village.

Here, we’ll admire the confluence of the mountain rivers of Chemal and Katun, check out the view from the old Chemal Hydroelectric Station and visit Patmos Island. A curious wooden monastery sits at the centre of the island, but the highlight is undoubtedly the suspension bridge crossing above the mighty Katun River.

Day 2:Rafting on Katun River

Altai is crisscrossed by over 22,000 tributaries spawning from the surrounding mountain rivers. The Chemal area, in particular, has earned an international reputation for whitewater rafting. Today we’ll get acquainted with one of the world’s best whitewater rivers, the Katun. Don’t worry if you’re a novice - we’ll begin by gently exploring a calm stretch of turquoise water with a certified instructor. We’ll then progress on to steeper passages where the rushing rapids are sure to step up the adrenaline.

Next, we’ll visit a deep mountain stream, which locals believe is permeated with healing energy from the mountain gods. Surrounding the stream are small cascades and rocks carved with prehistoric petroglyphs.

Day 3:Horse Riding Adventure

One of the most authentic ways to explore Altai is on the back of a horse. For centuries, the Altayan nomads patrolled their territory on horseback. Today we’ll enjoy a rambling four to five-hour horse ride, eventually leading to a mountain pass at 1,800m. From here, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping vistas over hundreds of kilometres of mountain ranges.

*If the horse riding is not your thing, you can enjoy an alternative excursion in Chemal – a walk at the picturesque valley of Sartakpai.

In the afternoon, we’ll head out to see an unusual round stone wedged in the bottleneck of a gorge, known in local lore as the dragon egg, or dragon stone. To reach it, you’ll strap on a “via feratta” safety harness and walk along a narrow suspension trail that skirts the side of the mountain.

Day 4:Along the Chuysky Highway

Today we depart relatively populated Chemal to go deeper into the undeveloped heart of Altai along the stunningly desolate Chuysky Road or in Russian, Chusyky Trakt, known as one of the world’s most beautiful highways.

Our first stop will be Askat, an isolated village of master artisans. Get acquainted with their handicrafts and ethnic instruments and try soothing sound therapy delivered through Tibetan style singing bowls. We’ll then continue to perhaps the most epic section of the Chuysky Road, the Seminsky Pass (altitude 1,717m). At the top, a heart-stopping panorama opens up overlooking the alpine valleys at the confluence of the Chuya and Katun rivers. Nearby you can still find parts of the ancient Chike-Taman Pass, a hazardous foot-crossing used by merchants from Mongolia centuries back.

Today’s final highlight is the Kalbak-Tash monument. This impressive collection of over 5,000 of well-preserved petroglyph rock carvings and cave paintings dates from the 3rd millennium BC until the Middle Ages.

The evening will be spent relaxing at our cosy lakeside lodging for the night.

Day 5:Along the Chuysky Highway

Take a morning wander beside the brilliant blue Geyser Lake. Staring into the piercing turquoise depths, you may notice the occasional bubbling “geyser”, spitting out bluish clay and sand, forming visible concentric circles at the bottom of the lake.

Continuing on the Chuysky Trakt, we’ll stop at the North Chuya Range for magnificent views of the glaciers and its highest peaks, Aktru-Bash (4,075m) and Karatash (3,534m).

Our journey continues to the valley of the Kyzyl Chin River. Set eyes on the alien rock formations and unearthly bright orange, red and brown hues of the surrounding mountains, you’ll see why it’s been given the nickname Altai Mars.

Take your time photographing the ethereal landscapes here before we head back to our lodge.

Day 6:Through the Red Gate

Today our route passes through the Red Gates, a narrow gorge heading towards the Altai border with Tuva and Khakassia. Along the way, we’ll stop at Lake Kidelyu and Ulagansky Pass (elevation 2,080m).

Beyond the pass lie the Pazyryk Barrows, one of Altai’s greatest archaeological treasures. Hidden within a valley are the wooden burial tombs of the Iron Age Pazyryrk culture. It was on this site that the legendary “Ice Maiden” or “Altai Princess” was discovered, laying in a 2,400 year old chamber with all her possessions and six horses.

Our next stop is the observation deck at Katu-Yaryk Pass (altitude 1,188m). Gazing over the edge of abyss, almost one kilometre deep, you’ll see where the emerald river bends below and waterfalls shower across the rocks.

In the afternoon, we’ll walk the serpentine road for the pass down to our lodging site.

Day 7:Uchar Waterfall

Ascend on foot to the largest cascade waterfall in Altai. The 160m high Uchar Waterfall is a majestic sight, roaring and foaming as it tumbles down a series of massive, scattered boulders.

A reasonable amount of fitness is required for this full-day trek, following a mountain track (9km one way) into the stunning alpine valley of the Chulcha River. Alternatively, you can enjoy a day of rest at our beautiful lodging area at Katu Yarsk.

In the evening, reward your efforts by winding down at a traditional banya (Russian sauna).

Day 8:Teletskoye Lake & Mushroom Rocks

This morning’s excursion is to one of the most bizarre natural creations in Altai. Sprouting from the right bank of the Chulyshman River are unusual mushroom-shaped rock formations. The mushrooms were created by continued weather and water erosion, and experts believe they will eventually disappear.

Next, we arrive at one of the deepest lakes in the world, and one of the holiest in Altai. Spanning between two mountain ridges, Lake Teletskoye (known in the local language as Altyn Kol - the Golden Lake) is 78km and 5km wide. We’ll board a boat for a scenic cruise to hidden waterfalls, beaches and the site of a fallen meteorite. At the end of the cruise, we will arrive in Artybash village, where we check-into our cosy lodging for the next 2 nights.

Day 9:Nomadic Culture Immersion

Most of today is set aside for rest and relaxation on the shores of Lake Teletskoye. If you wish, make your own way to the lakeside observation deck and ride the chair lift to the top of Mount Kokuya, used for skiing in the winter months.

In the afternoon, visit one of the local ethnic villages, where you’ll be introduced to their traditional welcome rites and customs. You’ll also get to taste some home-cooked food unique to the Altai region.

Day 10:Altai National Museum

This morning is your final chance to stroll along the shore of the sacred Golden Lake and visit the local souvenir markets. Then, it’s time to make the approximately 160km journey to Gorno-Altaisk.

Back in the city, we’lll visit the Altai National Museum. The museum features a unique collection of artefacts, including the mummy of the famous Ice Maiden whose tomb we saw back at the Pazyryk Barrows.

Afterwards, explore the city in your free time. We recommend trying the excellent regional cuisine at Altai’s best restaurant, Typography.

Day 11:Goodby Hugs

Our Grand Altai Mountains Adventure has reached its conclusion. After breakfast, you’ll be transferred to Gorno-Ataisk Airport for your onward journey.

Inclusions

Group airport transfers from/to Gorno-Altaisk (Novosibirsk or Barnaul)

All transportation according to the itinerary

Accommodation on tour according to the itinerary

All meals

Local licensed English-speaking guides

All excursions and activities according to the itinerary, except optional

Entrance fees to all excursion objects specified in the program, except optional

Nature Parks fees

Russian visa support document (invitation)

Flights

Travel insurance

Russian visa and visa fees. *Russian visa can be arranged by 56th Parallel for an additional cost (for Australian citizens only). Apply for concierge visa service here.

Optional excursions

Individual transfers

Alcohol

Dates & Prices

DatesAvailabilityPriceSingle sup. 
Jun 28 - Jul 08, 2020
Guaranteed Departures
AvailableUS $1,998$560Reserve
Jul 05- Jul 15, 2020
Guaranteed Departures
AvailableUS $1,998$560Reserve
Jul 12 - Jul 22, 2020
Guaranteed Departures
AvailableUS $1,998$560Reserve
Jul 19 - Jul 29, 2020
Guaranteed Departures
AvailableUS $1,998$560Reserve
Jul 26 - Aug 05, 2020
Guaranteed Departures
AvailableUS $1,998$560Reserve
Aug 02 -Aug 12, 2020
Guaranteed Departures
AvailableUS $1,998$560Reserve
Aug 09 - Aug 19, 2020
Guaranteed Departures
AvailableUS $1,998$560Reserve
Aug 16 - Aug 26, 2020
Guaranteed Departures
AvailableUS $1,998$560Reserve
Aug 23 - Sep 02, 2020
Guaranteed Departures
AvailableUS $1,998$560Reserve

Day 1: Gorno-Altaysk and Chemal

Our Altai adventure begins in Gorno-Altaysk, capital of the Altai Republic. After meeting at the airport, we’ll leave the city heading south to Altai’s main tourist destination – Chemal. After hotel accommodation, we embark on a tour of the village.

Here, we’ll admire the confluence of the mountain rivers of Chemal and Katun, check out the view from the old Chemal Hydroelectric Station and visit Patmos Island. A curious wooden monastery sits at the centre of the island, but the highlight is undoubtedly the suspension bridge crossing above the mighty Katun River.

Day 2: Rafting on Katun River

Altai is crisscrossed by over 22,000 tributaries spawning from the surrounding mountain rivers. The Chemal area, in particular, has earned an international reputation for whitewater rafting. Today we’ll get acquainted with one of the world’s best whitewater rivers, the Katun. Don’t worry if you’re a novice - we’ll begin by gently exploring a calm stretch of turquoise water with a certified instructor. We’ll then progress on to steeper passages where the rushing rapids are sure to step up the adrenaline.

Next, we’ll visit a deep mountain stream, which locals believe is permeated with healing energy from the mountain gods. Surrounding the stream are small cascades and rocks carved with prehistoric petroglyphs.

Day 3: Horse Riding Adventure

One of the most authentic ways to explore Altai is on the back of a horse. For centuries, the Altayan nomads patrolled their territory on horseback. Today we’ll enjoy a rambling four to five-hour horse ride, eventually leading to a mountain pass at 1,800m. From here, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping vistas over hundreds of kilometres of mountain ranges.

*If the horse riding is not your thing, you can enjoy an alternative excursion in Chemal – a walk at the picturesque valley of Sartakpai.

In the afternoon, we’ll head out to see an unusual round stone wedged in the bottleneck of a gorge, known in local lore as the dragon egg, or dragon stone. To reach it, you’ll strap on a “via feratta” safety harness and walk along a narrow suspension trail that skirts the side of the mountain.

Day 4: Along the Chuysky Highway

Today we depart relatively populated Chemal to go deeper into the undeveloped heart of Altai along the stunningly desolate Chuysky Road or in Russian, Chusyky Trakt, known as one of the world’s most beautiful highways.

Our first stop will be Askat, an isolated village of master artisans. Get acquainted with their handicrafts and ethnic instruments and try soothing sound therapy delivered through Tibetan style singing bowls. We’ll then continue to perhaps the most epic section of the Chuysky Road, the Seminsky Pass (altitude 1,717m). At the top, a heart-stopping panorama opens up overlooking the alpine valleys at the confluence of the Chuya and Katun rivers. Nearby you can still find parts of the ancient Chike-Taman Pass, a hazardous foot-crossing used by merchants from Mongolia centuries back.

Today’s final highlight is the Kalbak-Tash monument. This impressive collection of over 5,000 of well-preserved petroglyph rock carvings and cave paintings dates from the 3rd millennium BC until the Middle Ages.

The evening will be spent relaxing at our cosy lakeside lodging for the night.

Day 5: Along the Chuysky Highway

Take a morning wander beside the brilliant blue Geyser Lake. Staring into the piercing turquoise depths, you may notice the occasional bubbling “geyser”, spitting out bluish clay and sand, forming visible concentric circles at the bottom of the lake.

Continuing on the Chuysky Trakt, we’ll stop at the North Chuya Range for magnificent views of the glaciers and its highest peaks, Aktru-Bash (4,075m) and Karatash (3,534m).

Our journey continues to the valley of the Kyzyl Chin River. Set eyes on the alien rock formations and unearthly bright orange, red and brown hues of the surrounding mountains, you’ll see why it’s been given the nickname Altai Mars.

Take your time photographing the ethereal landscapes here before we head back to our lodge.

Day 6: Through the Red Gate

Today our route passes through the Red Gates, a narrow gorge heading towards the Altai border with Tuva and Khakassia. Along the way, we’ll stop at Lake Kidelyu and Ulagansky Pass (elevation 2,080m).

Beyond the pass lie the Pazyryk Barrows, one of Altai’s greatest archaeological treasures. Hidden within a valley are the wooden burial tombs of the Iron Age Pazyryrk culture. It was on this site that the legendary “Ice Maiden” or “Altai Princess” was discovered, laying in a 2,400 year old chamber with all her possessions and six horses.

Our next stop is the observation deck at Katu-Yaryk Pass (altitude 1,188m). Gazing over the edge of abyss, almost one kilometre deep, you’ll see where the emerald river bends below and waterfalls shower across the rocks.

In the afternoon, we’ll walk the serpentine road for the pass down to our lodging site.

Day 7: Uchar Waterfall

Ascend on foot to the largest cascade waterfall in Altai. The 160m high Uchar Waterfall is a majestic sight, roaring and foaming as it tumbles down a series of massive, scattered boulders.

A reasonable amount of fitness is required for this full-day trek, following a mountain track (9km one way) into the stunning alpine valley of the Chulcha River. Alternatively, you can enjoy a day of rest at our beautiful lodging area at Katu Yarsk.

In the evening, reward your efforts by winding down at a traditional banya (Russian sauna).

Day 8: Teletskoye Lake & Mushroom Rocks

This morning’s excursion is to one of the most bizarre natural creations in Altai. Sprouting from the right bank of the Chulyshman River are unusual mushroom-shaped rock formations. The mushrooms were created by continued weather and water erosion, and experts believe they will eventually disappear.

Next, we arrive at one of the deepest lakes in the world, and one of the holiest in Altai. Spanning between two mountain ridges, Lake Teletskoye (known in the local language as Altyn Kol - the Golden Lake) is 78km and 5km wide. We’ll board a boat for a scenic cruise to hidden waterfalls, beaches and the site of a fallen meteorite. At the end of the cruise, we will arrive in Artybash village, where we check-into our cosy lodging for the next 2 nights.

Day 9: Nomadic Culture Immersion

Most of today is set aside for rest and relaxation on the shores of Lake Teletskoye. If you wish, make your own way to the lakeside observation deck and ride the chair lift to the top of Mount Kokuya, used for skiing in the winter months.

In the afternoon, visit one of the local ethnic villages, where you’ll be introduced to their traditional welcome rites and customs. You’ll also get to taste some home-cooked food unique to the Altai region.

Day 10: Altai National Museum

This morning is your final chance to stroll along the shore of the sacred Golden Lake and visit the local souvenir markets. Then, it’s time to make the approximately 160km journey to Gorno-Altaisk.

Back in the city, we’lll visit the Altai National Museum. The museum features a unique collection of artefacts, including the mummy of the famous Ice Maiden whose tomb we saw back at the Pazyryk Barrows.

Afterwards, explore the city in your free time. We recommend trying the excellent regional cuisine at Altai’s best restaurant, Typography.

Day 11: Goodby Hugs

Our Grand Altai Mountains Adventure has reached its conclusion. After breakfast, you’ll be transferred to Gorno-Ataisk Airport for your onward journey.

Included

Group airport transfers from/to Gorno-Altaisk (Novosibirsk or Barnaul)

All transportation according to the itinerary

Accommodation on tour according to the itinerary

All meals

Local licensed English-speaking guides

All excursions and activities according to the itinerary, except optional

Entrance fees to all excursion objects specified in the program, except optional

Nature Parks fees

Russian visa support document (invitation)

Not included

Flights

Travel insurance

Russian visa and visa fees. *Russian visa can be arranged by 56th Parallel for an additional cost (for Australian citizens only). Apply for concierge visa service here.

Optional excursions

Individual transfers

Alcohol

If you have any urgent questions or enquiries, please give us a call +61 2 9388 9816