Altai for Curious Travellers
Day 1
Barnaul – The Lower Katun
Arrival at the airport of Barnaul in the morning. Transfer to Polevodka village. Excursion to the ethnographic park «Altai. History of Russia». This entertainment park is designed like a fairy tale territory with exotic pavilions and strange looking trees piercing the roofs with their crooked trunks. Here you can find a stone maze and a shrine of Slavonic gods, a still pond with frogs and a picturesque bridge above it, a copy of the legendary Siberian idol The Golden Woman and painted panels made on stretched animal hides. Lunch. Visiting a local shaman. Our shaman is a representative of Kumandin which is a small native Altai ethnos. You will know a lot about Altai traditions and greet the Golden Woman «Altin Ay». Old legends tell that Altin Ay saved her people from destruction, she is a personification of female and male energy. The Golden Woman grants men courage and strength and women beauty and fruitfulness. Also she gives couples family happiness. After greeting ceremony every one can speak with the shaman and ask him questions. Transfer to the region of the Lower Katun river. Accommodation in the tourist guesthouse. Dinner. Overnight in the guesthouse.
Day 2
The Lower Katun
Breakfast. If the weather is good: excursion to Chemal village and Che-Chkysh Gorge. During a short walk in Chemal village we will see the Chemal Hydroelectric Power Station and Patmos island which is one of the most beautiful places of the mountainous Altai. The only way to get to Patmos island is to cross the hanging bridge joining island’s rocks with rocks on the river Katun bank. There we will visit the reconstructed John the Apostle Church and the monastic cell of Saint Macarius of Altai. There is a rock with the holy face the Mother of God just behind the cell. If you walk along a winding goat’s path you will see the confluence place of two rivers and the Chemal Dam. The sights there are amazing and inspiring for a photo session. Our next point is «the gorge of mountain spirits» Che-Chkysh where ancient Altai people prayed to their gods asking for help, healing from diseases and children birth. The rocky canyon with a waterfall and petroglyphs is a local place of power. During the excursion we will see the creek of health and the waterfall, explore the ancient petroglyphs painted on the rocks and climb to the observation deck with fantastic views of the valley below and the beautiful Katun river. If the weather is bad: excursion to the Gallery of Choros-Gurkin and Artisan's settlement. After visiting the gallery of the local talented artist Grigory Choros-Gurkin we will proceed to Askat village known for its Artisan’s settlement which is one of the most glamorous places of Altai. There we will meet the local celebrities: talented artist Tarakay and family Golovan’ of authentic craftsmen.Their clay, wooden and metal works of art are presented on the Artisan’s meadow, in the gallery and in the souvenirs shop. There you can buy authentic crafts and exotic musical instruments (tambourines, flutes, rattles, etc.) and hear some tales about local traditions. Transfer to Barangol where we can arrange for an extra cost a moto rafting along the Katun river or a trip to the Kamishlinsky waterfall. Return to the tourist guesthouse. Dinner. Overnight in the guesthouse.
Day 3
The Lower Katun — Lake Teletskoye
Breakfast. Visiting tourism cluster «Turquoise Katun». Today we will visit the largest tourism cluster in Altai region. We will walk along the local eco-path and explore several types of landscape: alpine meadows, mixed forest, grass lands and rocks. You will see rare plant species included in the Red List and enjoy healthy air of mountains and pine forest. Excursion to the Tavdinsky caves. This cave complex consists of several dozen of caves. Many of them have several entrances and are interconnected with each other making a large system where it is easy to get lost. The Tavdinsky caves were inhabited in different epochs. The researchers found there pottery items and other archeological artefacts dated by Bronze and early Iron Age. After cave exploration we will make a short walk to the observation deck with a monument devoted to Russian famous traveler, philosopher and artist Nikolas Roerich. Also we will see the ancient grotto of Ichtyandr. It’s a perfect place to take photos of turquoise waves of the picturesque Katun river. Visiting local apiary with Altai honey degustation. Here you can taste and buy famous Altai honey, propolis, mead, honey combs, bee bread, honeybee royal jelly and other beekeeping products. Impression of a day — relaxing sleep on a vibrating hive. Close your eyes and you feel the monotonous vibration of the swarm of bees, their calming murmur, sweet smell of honey and wax, and something other elusive and pleasant. Transfer to Teletskoye lake. Accommodation in the tourist guesthouse. For an extra cost: visiting an ail (Altaian yurt) in Artibash village with degustation of Altai cuisine. Dinner. Overnight in the guesthouse.

Day 4
Lake Teletskoye
Breakfast. Boat trip on Teletskoye lake. Teletskoye is the biggest lake of Altai and one of the biggest lakes in Russia. Its maximum depth is 330 meters. Altai people call the lake «Altin-Köl» which means «golden lake». Many rivers and streams flow in Teletskoye lake, but only one river Biya flows out of it. Visiting Altai Nature Reserve. Today we will explore the 12,5 meters high Korbu waterfall and the picturesque Chedor waterfall. On the way back we will admire views from the water of the beautiful Kishte waterfall and Airan Cape. If the weather is good we will also walk along the eco-path «Third river». For an extra cost we can arrange for you rafting along the Biya river. Return to the tourist guesthouse. Dinner. Overnight in the guesthouse.

Day 5
Teletskoye lake – Belokurikha
Breakfast. Transfer to Gorno-Altaysk. Walking tour around Gorno-Altaysk with visit to the National Museum. The National Museum of Gorno-Altaysk keeps the ethnographic collections of native people of Altai with special accent to their culture, household items and shaman attributes. You will see the unique handmade shaman drums. The guide will tell you about the main Altai holidays and why shamans rarely lend their attributes to the museums. The most precious museum’s artifact had been the «Princess of Ukok» mummy which was returned back home now. Panoramic transfer to Altayskoye village. On rout we will make several photo stops to take pictures. You will have a chance to stand on a hanging bridge with breathtaking views of raging river below and cross the Biruksinsky pass with picturesque panoramas of mixed forests and grasslands. According to local legends the highest point of the pass is a place of power. Visiting the arboretum «Altayskoye Holmogorye». This dendrological park is famous for its rich collection of exotic herbs, deciduous and coniferous shrubs as well as medical plants used for production cosmetics and dietary supplements. Gastro-botanic dinner «New Cuisine of Altai». Transfer to the mountain resort Belokurikha. Accommodation in the hotel. Overnight in the hotel.
Day 6
Breakfast. Visiting the new resort «Mountain Belokurikha». We will drive along the unique serpentine with 12 circles on 8 kilometers. There are several art objects on its top: a 5 meter chair with a thinker sitting on it, a big cart full of pencils, and the Stupa of Medicine. You can also find there the museum complex «Andreevskaya Sloboda» (Andrew’s settlement) and the inn «Gogol» named after the famous Russian writer. Also we will walk along one of local health paths to the granite complexes «Ambarchiki» («Little barns») and «Ogorodchiki» («Little kitchen gardens»). These unique geological structures are perfect places for taking great panoramic pictures. Return to Belokurikha. Dinner. For an extra cost you can visit the local recreation center and relax in thermal pools. Overnight in the hotel.
Day 7
Belokurikha — Topolnoye
Breakfast. For an extra cost: ascent to the Cerkovka mountain by cable car. Excursion to Solonovka village. The village was founded by Old Believers (a schismatic brunch of Russian Orthodoxy) and Russian settlers. Now it is a local point of attraction for paragliders. There is a cheese factory here as well. Dinner with dishes of Old Believers cuisine. Transfer to Soloneshnoye village. Excursion to the Local History Museum. The main exposition of this museum is devoted to the history of the world known archeologic object «Denisova Cave» where remains of a Denisova hominins (the third human species) were found. The guide will also tell you about local Old Believers, their culture and the story of their migration to Altai, their way of living, traditional clothes and dishes. Transfer to Topolnoye village. Accommodation in the maral breeding farm. Dinner. For an extra cost: healing bath with products made from maral’s antlers. Altai maral (Cervus elaphus sibiricus) is a timid, cautious and stately deer. Their young still not ossified antlers contain natural complex of substances with powerful biostimulatory effect. Bath with water extracts of boiled maral antlers is one of the most effective healing procedures based on maral products. Such baths as well as maral products themselves charge organism with energy, make blood circulation better, facilitate tissue regeneration (especially muscles damaged by heavy physical loads), and slow down aging process. To feel positive effect one have to take at least 4-6 bathes. Overnight in the maral breeding farm.
Day 8
Topolnoye — Uch Enmek Nature Park
Breakfast. Excursion to «Denisova Cave». It’s a unique archeological object of world significance. It is here where a fossilized finger bone of the Denisovan was found. Denisova hominins represent an independent evolutionary branch of humans different from the Neanderthal men and our own species. We will explore the cave from inside and maybe even see archeologists working during summer excavation season. Panoramic transfer to Karakol. The road crosses the Keleysky (1313 meters) and Yabogansky (1492 meters) passes and then goes along the Baschelak ridge and through the Ust-Kanskaya depression up to the famous «Chuysky Trakt» (Chuya highway). Accommodation in the guesthouse in Uch Enmek Nature Park. Short walk to the «Boy with a gopher» monument. You will know why gophers are so revered here and take a splendid photo of Altai sunset. Dinner. Overnight in the guesthouse.
Day 9
Uch Enmek Nature Park
Breakfast. Panoramic tour along the Chuysky Trakt. Today we will ascend along the Katun and Chuya rivers up to the Kurai steppe. The history of this road construction goes back centuries. A long time ago it was just a narrow path for people and horses. Later it became a branch of the Silk Road. Recently Chuysky Trakt was included by «National Geographic» in TOP-10 of the world’s most beautiful roads. On route we will cross the large pass Chike Taman (1460 meters) known since the 10th century. Its name means «Narrow foot». Ascending to the pass we will enjoy impressive bends of the serpentine road. Having got there we will admire the wonderful views of mountains and valleys seen from its flat and vast top. You will have enough time to take photos of snowy peaks of the North Chuy Ridge. Visiting «Martian landscape» of Altai. Our next destination will be the multi-colored mountains Kyzil-Chin also known as «Altai Mars». Their steep canyons indeed have different colors: from pale yellow to deep wine red. Multicolored clays on their surface create weird sensation of being on another planet. It is here you will take your most brilliant Altai photos. Excursion to Geyser lake. This clear and beautiful lake never freeze in winter. It looks like an Earth’s eye or a blue-green portal to another world. One can see strange looking round spots on its surface which are results of some processes on the lake bed. It is there «geysers» are formed throwing up mixture of blue clay and sand up to lake’s surface. Excursion to the ancient sanctuary Kalbak Tash. The sanctuary is known for its petroglyphs telling about the ancient history of Altai. Here on the Chuya river bank you can see about 500 compositions of more than 5000 petroglyphs dating from the Neolithic era to Turkic Khaganate times. Return to the guesthouse. Dinner. Overnight in the guesthouse.
Day 10
Uch Enmek Nature Park— The Lower Katun
Breakfast. Excursion to the Uch Enmek Nature Park. There are natural and cultural objects in the park: mounds, petroglyphs and megalith complexes. During the excursion we will know a lot about the Altai culture and its cosmogony. Panoramic transfer to the Lower Katun. On route we will make a stop on the Seminsky pass (1717 meters). This part of Chuysky Trakt is largely forested by «bearded» many centuries old Siberian cedars (a species of pine tree). The pass is a kind of portal from the untouched nature of Central Altai to the civilization and comfort. Here you can buy local souvenirs, specialties and eco-products from the neighboring Mongolia. Accommodation in the tourist guesthouse. Dinner. Overnight in the guesthouse.
Day 11
The Lower Katun
Breakfast. Walking tour to the «Devils’s finger» rock. The rock got its name because of an unusual ledge that really looks like a finger. There are several observation decks along the path with wonderful views of the mountains, the Katun river valley and Ay lake. Folk evening with throat singing concert. The throat singer «kaichi» will perform melodies from the national epos and beautiful ballads of Altai. The show includes the concert of the multi-instrumental musician who can play ethnic and popular melodies on different national instruments (komus, topshur). Dinner. Overnight in the guesthouse.
Day 12
The Lower Katun — Barnaul
Breakfast. Excursion to Biysk. The town of Biysk was established by the order of Peter the Great. Nowadays it has technopolis status and is the main gate to Altai Mountains. During the excursion we will visit the Uspensky (the Assumption) Cathedral build in traditional Russian-Byzantine style and walk along an atmospheric street with old merchants mansions. Transfer to Barnaul. Sightseeing tour of Barnaul. During the excursion the guide will tell you stories about the mountain town that doesn’t have mountains, about progressive inventions and Europeans who became Russian in Barnaul. You will hear legends created in the historical streets of the town. Visiting «Mountain Pharmacy» Museum. Here we will learn the most effective recipes of herbal medicine of XVIII – XXI centuries. «Mountain Pharmacy» is also a restaurant and a souvenirs shop. Here you can buy authentic handmade products such as wood carving, metal carving or painted presents. Don’t forget to buy exclusive health and beauty products made from Altai herbs, different sorts of tea, balms and other specialties. Transfer to the airport of Barnaul. End of the program.
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