Russia,Mongolia,China and Kazakhstan
The Altai EcoRegion has been identified by WWF as their Global 200 regions where more than 90 percent of the planet’s biodiversity is concentrated.
The major parts of this EcoRegion is shared by Russia and Mongolia, and the minor parts also involves China and Kazakhstan.
The highlands of Mongolian and Chinese parts are rather dry steppes with snow-capped mountains whereas the lower elevation western parts in Russia are largely forested and spectacular, being part of southernmost Siberia, with its own micro-climate.
The Russian,Kazakhstan parts are significantly more humid and wet. There are excellent apples and many berries of different kinds. Kazakhs, Russians and Altai peoples inhabit Russian Altai and other three sides are also mostly Kazakh, but also Tuvans, Mongols and many other ethnic minorities. The local people in the entire region speak a myriad of local languages such as Slavic, Mongol,Chinese, Turkic and Altai language groups.
Visiting Altai regions, you come to Ancient Shamballa’s Kingdom.
Shamballa is the centre of high evolutionary energies,so it is the source of all our religions.The most beautifull landscapes, ancient desert ruins of Altai,which are known as Ancient Silk Road Culture, can tell you many secrets about Shamballa’s Kingdom
Brief Outline Itinerary
You will fly to either of Barnaul (Russian Altai region) via Moscow. Flight connections are best negotiated with Russian Aeroflot Airlines who fly on-line to Barnaul, Urumqy,Ulaanbaatar and Oskemen(Eastern Kazakhstan). So it gives you to join this Altai round-trip from any parts of Altai.
The border crossing at Tashanta (Russia) and Tsaagannuur (Mongolia) is open for third country nationals as of 2005 only.Between Mongolian and Chinese Altai parts,you will fly with Mongolian AeroMongolia Airlines.
We will make the border crossing at Jemenay(China-Kazakhstan)by bus and Kulyndy
(Kazakhstan-Russian) by train.
Day 1: Barnaul- Katun River
Arrive Barnaul in the early morning. It is the largest and ugliest city of the region with some 700 000 inhabitants. Barnaul is the urban hub for the Altai region. We will be invited for breakfast and registration procedures will take place here. Our bus will take us in 6-7 hours to the banks of the spectacular Katun River, a tributary of the mighty Siberian river Yenisey.
We will have our lunch en route. The Katun and Choy Rivers follow the road and the surrounding mountains are high, often most with snow capped peaks. The dense forests will thin out as we gain elevation and there will be cedars at Seminskiy. We will pass several villages where Altai people’s lives. The Altai are Turkic speaking people. Such as at the village of Ondugai. Above Inya village - we will camp out near the river or up a valley, a few 2-3 hours short from the Mongolian border. Tented camp. (L,D)
Day 2: Kosh Agach Plateau to Ulgii
Continue drive up on to the Kosh Agach Plateau, which visibly already is Mongolia. The area is now drier with some 160mm precipitation per annum. Kosh Agach is the main town of the area, almost all people living here are local Kazakhs.After Kosh-Agach,we drive Djazator and overnight near Albert’s family.Albert is biologist, who will be our local guide. (B,L,D)
Day 3-5: Explore Plato Ukok
Plateau Ukok is on the most sothern part of Russian Altai(2500m),which has mountain-steppe landscape with many beautifull lakes.The lakes have such birds like mountain geese,sibirian gray crane,golden eagle,bearded vulture and others.Ukok means “bluetribe” or blue Turkic.There are over 600 archeological sites,belonged to the Pazyrykskaya culture (VIII-III century B.C.)
The archeologists found out that the man discovered was one of the most mysterious people of the Pre-Christian antiquity: they also discovered that he was a nomad of the Iranian origin and that his civilization was very prosperous at the beginning of 2000 BC. These discoveries have brought light on many mysteries of the past. However, they give rise to other mysteries.
Just on the south of Ukok,you can see the Tavan-Bogd Snow capped mountain peaks(4374m).
Tavan-Bogd means Five Holy Mountians.Many different ethnic groups from different period of history choosed this place as their sacred place to berry their ancestors .Overnights in tent.(B,L,D)
Day 6: Border crossing to Mongolia
We will cross into Mongolia after the small village of Tashanta. It will certainly take an hour of formalities for both sides. The goods roads will totally disappear as we enter into Mongolia, and Bayan-Ulgii province. From the border there is a spectacular 2-3 hour ride across the mountain steppes to Ulgii. We will have our dinner at a local restaurant in Ulgii.
Bayan-Ulgii is where most ethnic Kazakhs lives and they are muslims, rather than buddhist’s (as Mongolians usually are). With luck we will be able to meet up with a local family who train and domesticate Golden Eagles for fox hunts from horseback. Locals are often on horseback and are nomads herding yaks, goats, sheep, camels and horses. Handicraft is spectacular and the interior of the Kazakh yurts are like small temples. We will stay in a local ger camp at Ölgii.(B,L,D)
Days 7-8: Altai Tavan Bogd and Tuvan family
Driving to west(100kms), we reach Snake valley,where have many ancient Turkic stone with face and graves.Turkic stones (carved) are belonged to Blue Turkic people,who have lived here between 4th-8th BC.Afternoon, drive to north and reach the road end just near Potanin Glacier(20kms-biggest glacier in Mongolia).
Next day soft hiking up and down hill to see the highest snow capped peak of Mongolia-Altai Tavan Bogd(Huiten-4374m,).
Overnights in tent near Tuvan families.(B,L,D).
Day 9: Meet Kazakh Eaglehunter
Driving by southeasternly route, we will be able to have beautiful views of the entire Altai Mountains range. After 4-5hrs driving, we reach Kazakh Eaglehunter’s family near Sagsai village.Meet Mana(Kazakh Eaglehunter) and his magnificient bird of pray. Overnight with family.(B,L,D)
Days 10-11: To Nomadic life and soft Hiking
Today we drive 5-6hrs to reach TsambaGarav Nat.Park.
Here, the steppe meets the ice, and breeders organize there their movings. In this landscape, few scattered gers limit yaks, horses and goats’ pasture. Walk to the base camp of Tsambagarav Uul (4202 m).
Today we walk around Tavan Belchir area(Five pastures),which is summer pastures for Uriankhai people. Uriankhai is one of western Mongolian ethnic mintorities who have been the best soldiers of Chinggis Khaan’s army shooting arrow from bow. Visit uriankhai families and feel the difference between kazakh and uriakhai.
As Tsast (4208m) means Snow, this peak has more glaciers than the other one. From the campsite, only one and an half hour walk to reach the edge of the glacier. As you know, it is not like on Huiten, but need rope and other climbing gears, as far snow is soft and many holes.
Going along the glaciers to explore various valleys.. Meeting with the Kazakh nomads when going through their camps, discovering of their culture and traditional activities … supported by pack-camels. Visit eaglehunter’s family and see his magnificient bird. Overnight in tent near Kazakh Nomadic families. (B,L,D)
Day 12: Way to Hovd
Today driving towards Hovd you cross the north-west side of Tsamba-Garav Uul. Have a lunch in Hovd town. After lunch,driving to will see the Khar Us Nuur National Park, where WWF Mongolia is very active. The largest of the lakes is Khar Us Nuur (Black Water Lake). The great lakes basin has the largest reedbeds in all of Central Asia, with many bird species as well as Saiga Antelope, the rare Wild Boar (in the reeds!), Snow Leopards, Gazelle, Wolves etc.
In the evening drive back to Hovd.Overnight in tent near Buyant river. (B,L,D)
Day 13: Fly To Urumqy-Chinese Altai (1hr 20min)
Around 10a.m by local time,our plane will take off for Urumqy from Hovd airport. Arrive Urumqy after 1hr 20mins, meet by our guide and transfer to hotel. Have dinner, visit Xinjiang National Museum and Red Rock (National Park). Overmight in hotel (3*). (B,L,D).
Days 14-15: To Turpan and Ancient Silk Road Ruins
Today we drive by bus few hours and reach famous Turpan Valley, located on the south side of Tian Shan mountains.(154m under sea level).
We have 1.5 day to explore Ancient ruins ( Jiaohe and Gaochang), and Thousand Buddha Caves(Bezeklik). Emin minaret , karez irrigation ,These ancient towns and caves are over 3000y.rs old. Next day afternoon,we drive back via urumqi to north-east and reach town Qitai. Visit a uygur buddha monsteraryOvernight in hotel. (B,L,D).
Day 16: To Altai Mountians
Driving by Junggar desert basin to north,we come to eastern part of Chinese Altai mountains.
Junggar basin(180’000 square kms) has border with Altai Mountians to it’s north. We stay in Koktogai village . Take shuttle bus to Visit holy bell mountain.Feel grade hospitality of Nomadic Kazakh people. Overnight in Kazakh gercamp.
Day 17: Way to Kanas lake by Altai Mountians
Full day drive by open mountain area, you enjoy by remote high Mountian country.This area is populated mostly by nomadic Kazakh people. Kazakhs have name “ nationality on horseback” and long history here since the 2nd century B.C.They have relations with Ancient Turks(the 6th century).They live in gers during summer and in wooden houses during winter.
There are many carved stones and some of them reach to 3.1m above the ground.
Overnight in gercamp near Kazakh family. (B,L,D).
Day 18: Beaty of Kanas lake
Kanas Lake Natural Reserve Area: It is the most beautiful mountain lake you have never seen. The lake takes on different colors following the four seasons of the year, sometimes it's crystal blue, sometimes it's dark green, or even gray, you may find it containing many colors setting off each another at a time, thus it got a name as the color-changing lake.
A free day on your own to breathe in the fresh air and all beautiful landscape. You also have the option of taking a boat trip which is highly recommended, also a visit to local ethnic family -TUWA people.
-The Tuwa Tribe: A Mongolian tribe called Tuwa lives on the south bank of the Kanas Lake. Believing in Lamaism, it is a valiant ethic minority with a long history. Tuwa people speak Turkish, resembling the language of Kazakh, and live on hunting and graze. They also have a special folk custom.
Drive by bus up to hill , then walk to the fish observation pavilion
Overnight at Russian style wooden house.
Kanas Lake Natural Reserve Area: It is the most beautiful mountain lake you have never seen. It is the latest lake open to all tourists in China and has attained a reputation as "the tourism pearl of Mountain Altai". The lake takes on different colors following the four seasons of the year, sometimes it's crystal blue, sometimes it's dark green, or even gray, you may find it containing many colors setting off each another at a time, thus it got a name as the color-changing lake. (B,L,D).
Day 19: Border crossing to Kazakhstan Altai
After early breakfast, we drive to south-west and reach Chinese border village Jemenay. It will certainly take an hour of formalities for both sides.
At Kazakhstna side,we meet our new bus and start to drive towards Katon-Karagai Nat.Park.
From Mramorny pass we can see panorama taking breath away to green landscape of Kazakhstan. After pass road goes to the mountains of Sonaly and Azutau ridge. Along the road we see high larches, cedars and broad-leaved trees of Altai taiga. Overnight in tents on the shore of Markakol lake. (B,L,D).
Day 20: To Yazevoe Lake (140 km)
It is one of the most fascinating part of our way along Kazakhstan Altai. Further we start ascent to Alataisky pass. We see beautiful alternate panoramas of wide rivers valleys, extensive mountain plateaus, mountain tops, overgrown with cedars and larches. We have a lunch near river "Karakoba".
Further the road is better and we soon ascend to the next pass, Burkhat pass situated at Tarbagatai ridge. From pass is possible to see massive of Belukha mountain , when weather is fine.
We cross the bridge over Belaya Berel river and after that - Yazevoye village . Our further way lies along picturesque river to Yazovaya river valley. The name of lake, village and river has happened from the name a fish - Yaz. This fish lives in the lake. Beauty and magnificence of taiga lake amazes. Walking to waterfall on Yazevoya river. Back to camp. Overnight in tents. (B,L,D).
Day 21: Rest Day
Full day rest on the Lake Jazevoe. The lake Jazevoe is located in a mountain valley. It is possible to fish with success on a fishing tackle. Walk in vicinities of lake and to a falls on the river Jazevaja. Overnight in tent. (B,L,D).
Day 22: Drive to Rakhmanovskoye Lake (45 km).
After descend from Yazevoe lake, we visit place for maral horns cutting off. And, if we are in luck, we see process of horns cutting off, drying and further processing of horns.
On the way see panorama of Belukha peak. Arrival on the Rakhmanovskoe Lake. Walking around lake. It is possible to see the peak of Belukha mountain, when the weather is fine. Overnight in tents. (B,L,D).
Day 23: To Katon-Karagia village
We drive 3-4 hrs and reach Katon-Karagai village (160 km). On the way visit Berel archaeological digs. These digs are interesting thanks to the fact that partly extant mummy of sak's tsar at complete uniform was found here in 1996. Burial place of IV BC. Also on the way visit exotic bazaar at Katon-Karagai village.
For overnight we will stop near nomadic Kazakh family and feel their grade hospitality. Overnight in tent. (B,L,D).
Day 24: Drive to Oskemen
After breakfast, we fly by small airplane AN-12 few hours and reach centre of Kazakhstan Altai- Oskemen. Flying on Russian aircraft over Kazakh Altai land, you have a chance to see and enjoy by beauty of landscapes with wild big lakes like Zaisan and Bukhtarma.
Have a lunch and city sightseeings.Visit local museum amd mosque. In the evening sit on train for Barnaul. (B,L,D).
Day 25: In Barnaul
In your arrival Barnaul, our bus transfer to hotel(3*). Free day. (B,L,D).
Day 26: Fly to Moskow
After early breakfast, transfer to Barnaul airport.Take a flight to Moksow. (B).
Some recommendations: Summer months in Mongolia are from early June to mid September.Although the Mongolian summers are hot and dry with occasional rain, the temperature can fluctuate as much 20 degrees centigrade between day and night.So be prepared for all weather conditions.
What to bring: Binoculars,sunscreen,a hat,gloves,long underware for travel in the high mountains,comfortable footware,lip balm,sanitary hand wipes,sunglasses,prescription medications,(if needed),rain gear,flashlight.
Transport: Western Mongolian families frequently move from one pasture to the other using camels.The services of some herdsmen will be hired by the expedition, and they will provide us with their animals.
Staff: A local guide who speaks English and Mongolian will accompany the group at all times.A cook will follow, with an assistant.In addition, the services of the local herdsmen will be hired along with their animals.The horsemen follow a traditional lifestyle in the areas where we will be riding.
Meals: Our cook will prepare the meals.We pride ourselves in having cooks adapt to both western and Mongolian cooking on our trips.There are always vegetables available, and we have no problem accommodating vegetarians on our trips.For breakfast we can usually buy fresh yogurt from the herdsmen in the local area.
Price: USD …. per person (min 2 members)
Group size: 2-18
Discounts available for groups.
Includes: English speaking guide and all meals. All overnights in hotel, gers and tents, camping equipment and all transport,all Border and National park permits.
Excludes: Alcohol drinks, laundry and renting of riding horses.Visa fee.
Single tent/ger supplement is USD 30 per night.
Dates: from 15th of May untill 15th of October