Altai highlights

Altai Mountains

The Altai Mountains were the cradle for many nations. Tribes of Scythes, Huns and Turks starting from that area spread around the endless territories of Eurasia. Many archaeological objects were found here and these discoveries on their historical and cultural values occupy an important part in the World Cultural Heritage. Ancient barrows and rock paintings, interesting legends, mountain lakes with clear water, speedy mountain streams and snow peaks are waiting for the traveler on this route. Making acquaintance of the unique cultural traditions of Altai people allows the traveler to get a deep insight into the past to feel the connections between times and to understand the beauty of the presence. The way from Novosibirsk to Verkhiy Uymon village is similar to the route of the Central Asia expedition of Nikolay Roerich (1925-1928).  A vast area of  the Altai comprises a natural UNESCO World Heritage Site entitled Golden Mountains of Altai.

Mountain Belukha

Mountain Belukha, the highest peak in Siberia, flies up with two summits: Western Belukha (4440 meters) and Eastern Belukha (4506 meters).  The glacier shield of Belukha, which covers the largest part of the mountain ridge, occupies the territory of 70 sq km and is the source of Katun river. The steep peaks of Belukha, sparkling masses of ice, vertical rocky walls charm the travelers from afar and inspire them with awe and excitement. At the mountain’s feet among the space mysteries of snow and rocks you become aware that the man is not always the measure of all things. According to one Asian legend Mountain Belukha is a future Northern Shambala, a mystical country of spiritual wisdom. This area is associated with the famous Russian artist Nikolay Roerich and attracts hundreds of admirers of his painting every year. In 1995 the government of Altai Republic established the Belukha nature park.

The Multa Lakes

Ust-Koksinsky district with its unique mountain landscapes and bright colors of sub alpine meadows is one of the most wonderful and mysterious areas in the Altai.  Leaving behind the vast Uymon Valley, decorated with the chains of picturesque hills, travelers get into the Valley of Multa River. Climbing up the headlong Multa River, they come up to the three majestic Multa lakes. In 1991 the Upper Multa Lake became a part of Katun nature reserve. Tour to the Multa Lakes opens to travelers a world of beautiful lakes and ancient mountains in a remote area of the Altai where the pristine nature still exists.  

The Chuya Highway (Chuysky Trakt)

The Chuya Highway (Russian route M52) is the main road connecting Altai with other regions of Siberia and also with Mongolia. The modern road is built in the early 1930s by Gulag prisoners in place of old caravan route existing here since the mid-XVIII c. is a genius engineering project. It’s very wonderful and picturesque. From panoramic platforms you can see magnificent views of the Altai including parts of the ancient caravan route.

Barnaul city

Founded in 1730 on the bank of the Ob River as settlement at copper and silver-smelting factory of Akinfiy Demidov, son of the Demidov dynasty founder, organizer of metallurgical industry in Russia, Peter the Great’s favorite Nikita Demidov, Barnaul city kept a lot of interesting architectural monuments of different periods of its history: Classicism, the Modern style, Stalin’s buildings, original samples of wooden architecture.

The Altai State Museum of Local History

It is one of the oldest museums in Siberia founded in 1823 by Tomsk governor Pyotr Frolov and outstanding scientist, physician, naturalist, geographer, Altai explorer Friedrich-August von Gebler. Museum presents historic and ethnographic, archaeological, natural science collections. (more than 150 thousand exhibits). The museum was visited by Alexander von Humboldt, Pyotr Semenov-Tyan-Shansky, Alfred Brehm, Nikolai Yadrintsev. Since 1913 accordingly to the emperor Nicholas II order museum was placed at the former building of the Altai Mining District chemical laboratory.

Barnaul silver-smelting factory

Barnaul silver-smelting factory is a monument of urban development and architecture (XVIII-XIX cc.). Barnaul was founded precisely as smelting factory. In the past at this factory were smelted up to 90% of all Russian silver, which was strategically important in the XVIII — XIX centuries. Here well-known Russian mechanic Ivan Polzunov invented the world’s first steam engine which could work at absolutely dry site without an auxiliary hydraulic drive (1763). The factory doesn’t operate any more.

Anokhin National Museum of the Altai Republic in Gorno-Altaysk

This museum has unique collection of paleontology, ethnography, works of fine and decorative arts, manuscripts and incunabula of the XVII-XX cc., documents, photographs presenting history of the Altai Mountains, samples of flora and fauna, mineral collection. You can see here sarcophagus with famous Siberian Ice Maiden, mummy of young women of the V c. BC. According to the beliefs of the indigenous Altai population «Princess» also known as White Lady is the guardian of peace who stays over the gates of the underworld preventing the penetration of the Evil from lower realms).

Roerich Museum and Museum of Old Believers in Verkhniy Uymon village

The museum named after the great Russian painter Nicholas Roerich is a historical and cultural monument. It is dedicated to Roerich’s expedition in 1925-1928. The aim of the expedition was the survey of inaccessible areas of Central Asia (Tibet, Mongolia, Altai, China etc.). The expedition entered the golden fund of world geographical discoveries. The exhibitions of the museum are reproductions of paintings by Nicholas Roerich and an exhibition of photographs from the Asian expedition. A visit to the Roerich museum is often combined with the visit to the Museum of Old Believers. The museum is located in an Old Believers’ hut, built in the late of the 19th century. The hut keeps the old interior with a Russian stove, bunks, benches, shelves for dishes etc.

Stone mushrooms of Akkurum

Akkurum area is located on the right bank of the river Chulyshman. In this area you can admire giant stone figures resembling mushrooms. Stone mushrooms are formed by outwashing of rock formations. The mushroom caps were formed by thick plates of conglomerate while the mushroom stems were formed by poorly consolidated sediment that was less resistant to disruption caused by the water flowing from the slopes.  The height of the stone mushrooms reaches 7 meters, diameter of their caps – 2 meters, their thickness – 0, 5 m. Stems are 1-1,5 m. thick. The unique natural creations are protected by the state. Since 1980 it has been a reserved mountain area.

Teletskoye Lake

Teletskoye Lake, meaning in the language of locals “Golden lake”, is one of the largest and deepest lakes in the Altai Mountains.  It is situated at a height of 434 m above the sea level between the mountain ridges Korbu and Al-tyntu. The lake is 78 km long and 5 km wide. Its depth reaches 325 meters. About 70 rivers and 150 streams flow into the lake. The largest of them is Chulyshman River. The lake has only one outlet which is called Biya river. The water in the lake is very clear. The area near the Teletskoye lake is very picturesque. The Teletskoye Lake is listed as one of UNESCO World Natural Heritage Sites under the name «Golden Mountains of Altai».

Katun River

The Katun River is the left tributary stream of the Ob. It originates in the Katun glaciers on the southwestern slope of Belukha Mountain. The length of the Katun River is 688 km. The main tributaries of the Katun are Koksa, Kucherla, Argut, Chuya, Ursul, Sema and Isha. The river is navigable. It freezes up in late November — early December and breaks up in early or mid-April. Along its whole length the Katun River has different and picturesque views. The Katun River and its tributaries are the main attraction for rafting fans. There are great opportunities for rafting of all categories of difficulty and of different duration, from a few hours to several days. Calm rafting can be arranged in the Lower Katun, extreme rafting is organized on the numerous rapids of the Upper and Middle Katun.

Denisova Cave

The Denisova Cave is situated  in the Bashelaksky Range of the Altai mountains, 150 km south of Barnaul. It’s a karst cave which is composed of three galleries. The cave is of great paleoarchaeological and paleontological interest. Neanderthals and related hybrids may have inhabited the Denisova Cave for extended periods. Bone fragments of the Denisova hominin originating from the cave, dated back to around 40,000 BP. The cave also contains stone tools and bone artifacts made by ancient humans.

Patmos Island

Patmos Island is a small rock in the center of the Katun River. It is located near Chemal village. On the island there is only a small St. John the Theologian church. That’s why the island was named after a Greek island Patmos, where St. John the Theologian once prayed. Initially the church was built on the island in 1915, but it was destroyed in 1920. In 2000 a new church was built there once again and now it is the female hermitage of St. John the Theologian Barnaul Znamensky monastery. The only way to get to Patmos is over a pendant bridge.

Kalbak-Tash petroglyphs

Kalbak-Tash is located in Ongudai district, at 723 km of the Chuiskiy tract. It is a unique complex of ancient petroglyphs dated back from the third millennium B.C. to the late Turkic period. The name “kalbak-tash” means in Altainian language a “flat stone”. You will see more than 5000 cave paintings carved on the flat rocks of the hill which dominates in the valley of the river Chuya. The majority of petroglyphs represent zoomorphic and anthropomorphic images.

Devil’s Finger Mountain

Devil’s Finger Mountain is situated near Katun and Souzga villages. The mountain received its name because of its finger-shaped form. The mountain is 250 m high. From its top you can enjoy a wonderful view over the valley of the Katun River and mountains. Locals believe that the mountain heals women’s diseases and gives men strength. Several researches have confirmed the presence of a geomagnetic node under the mountain, emitting a powerful stream of energy.