View Full Version : Anyone been to Altai?

22-02-2005, 10:17
Hello there -- I was planning to go to Kamchatka (see previous qu) but the Aeroflot cheaper tickets ran out, so I am going to Altai instead. In June my boyf, Dad and I are going there for 9 days -- flying into and out of Barnaul (we speak Russian).

Could anyone suggest a route? Is Lake Teletskoye a must? What about any accessible waterfalls? I imagine we'll have to restrict ourselves to a certain area, rather than hoping to get as far as Belukha. We're not extreme hikers or mountaineerers, so I guess the best option would be to move between various bases with a driver-guide.

I'd be grateful for any ideas and advice.

Many thanks

22-02-2005, 11:02
I go fairly frequently - last year was the first year I didn't manage to go. I enjoy the rafting and riding there.

Teletskoe - it's like a kind of "resort", I find it a bit dull. There is not so much you can do there (except look at the lake). The town is at the head of the lake, but you can't go much further. There are two sides to the lake (it's "long and thin" in shape) - one side is beautiful natural forest but it's officially a Nature Reserve, which means you are not allowed to go there. In practice people do (there are a few companies quietly touting guided walks in town if you ask around), but it's not really permitted, and there have been people arrested. The other side is mostly sheer cliffs which plunge straight into the water, and unless you are a skilled mountaineer with heaps of gear, it's a virtual no-no. There IS nice accommodation there - the nicest of the private places is "Edem", which is a beautiful log-cabin-style "pansionat", with nice service and food, nice pinewood rooms... even indoor toilets (which is rare in Altai at all), albeit on the corridor.

If you are interested in the "real" Altai, I would recommend going further - along the Katun river and down to Chemal. Chemal is the main "centre" for outdoor stuff, although it's a pretty small town - more like a large village - even so. There are lots of tour-camps along the Katun on the road to Chemal. The most well set-up (and therefore expensive, but only in relative terms) is Tsarskaya Okhota... my favourite is next door to it, Korona Katuni, and you can eat at Tsarskaya Okhota if you like?

Chemal is the last "inhabited point" (ie where telephone and electricity run) on Katun, but there are points further upstream of there too. There is a much small village (whose name I forget, but you cannot miss it as there's only one rough road which follows the river) another 7-8 km further on).... if you ask-around there for Vassily Abdulovich (he's a native Altai and everyone knows him) he has a horse-farm which rents horses quite inexpensively... in 2003 we paid R90 per day per horse, plus you are obliged to rent one extra horse (regardless of how many of you there are) for R90... this is for the horse-boy, who will come with you to look after the horses. You should be ready to pay him $10-20 a day on top, and then he'll do everything for you. Vassily Abdulovich has a tented campsite where you can stay before heading off. He has a rudimentary selection of camp gear for rent too, if you do not have your own. In Chemal, don't miss the "Altai Culture Centre", which is a hilarious bit of hokum, pretending to show you the history of Altaic life, and set up in a kind of yurt in someone's garden. Don't be taken in - the guy who shows you everything is the former Director of the Altai National Bank, which went bust in the 1998 Bank Crisis. He has a nice collection of stuff (which has bought cheaply, none of it was originally his, and he is no kind of "herder" at all), but all of the "folklore" he talks about is a mixture of Roerich, Gurdjieff, and Erich von Daniken that he's made-up by himself, and it has around 0 to do with real Altaic life.

22-02-2005, 11:39
In terms of accomodation there is another very nice place close to Chemal - Arida. I highly recommend it