China (Xinjiang and Tibet)

China (Xinjiang and Tibet)

Chinese Altai borders Mongolia in the northeast and Russia and Kazakhstan in the northwest. The area itself belongs to Ili Kazak Autonomous State, with half its population being Kazak.

The many rivers in Altai make it the city with the most trading ports in China. The biggest of these rivers, the Erqis, is the only river in China flowing into the Arctic Ocean. Kanas Lake, fed by the Erqis River, at the foot of Friendship Peak (youyi feng), is an impressive stretch of water ideal for boating, around which the warm colors of autumn in the alpine wilderness look particularly stunning.

For the best place to view Kanas Lake take a 700-meter horse ride or hike up to Guanyu Pavilion. On the way, you'll pass a small Mongolian village, complete with smoking chimneys, children playing and nomads going about their day. At night, a bonfire is built near the lake and you can dance with the pretty Kazak girls and listen to traditional Kazak folk tunes, while your hosts prepare a feast of mutton for you.

Another attraction of the lake is the mysterious Tuwa ethnic group. No one seems to know where they originate, yet they retain their traditional lifestyle, living in fenced-in Russian style houses, studying Mongolian language but speaking the Tujue dialect.

Altai Mountain also provided a canvas for artists over 3000-years ago, when the rock surfaces were used to paint scenes of life. One of the rock paintings on a 15-meter-high and 2-meter-wide rock is composed of 140 figures and of great interest to art lovers.

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