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/Trekking, cultural highlights, possible climbing to Malchin Peak- 4025 m/

Belukha Mountain is the highest peak of the Altai Mountains, located partially on the territory of Russia and also in Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China. The highest point of Altai - Belukha (4506 m). This is a magic mountains.

The snow-white pearl among the boundless sea of a taiga, fairy Belukha is not just a mountain, object for climbing. This is alive beating heart of Altai, the place of extreme power.

In July and August, the alpine meadows are in luxuriant bloom. There you can meet Siberian wapiti (red deer), musk deer, brown bear, sable, Siberian weasel, squirrel, chipmunk, Siberian ibex (mountain goat). The elusive snow leopard and the Altai snow cock also make a home of these lands. The tour takes us to the west and east parts of the Katunsky ridge: to the canyons of Kucherla and Ak-Kem rivers. Mountain passes provide extensive panoramas of the Katunsky Ridge and ice-covered Belukha Mountain.

The Kucherla river is one of the most lovely mountain rivers of the Katunsky ridge and has milky blue water. One of the sides of the Kucherla gorge is forest-steppe with larch and stone ridges, while cedars and firs cover the opposite side. Higher along the route, there are cedar pine forests and alpine meadows.

Another famous lake we will visit is the Akkem lake. It is not very big, but its waters reflect the peak and glaciers of Mount Belukha. These places are a real Mekka for mountaineers and artists.

To make the trek easier, the pack horses will carry the camp equipment and major food supply. The tour requires the middle physical fitness and basic backpacking experience.

Brief Outline Itinerary

You will fly to either of Barnaul (Russian Altai region) via Moscow or to Olgii (Mongolian Altai). There are a number of extension trips in westernmost Mongolia. Flight connections are best negotiated with Russian Aeroflot Airlines who fly on-line to both Barnaul/GornoAltaisk and Ulaanbaatar (ULN). The trip is vehicle supported and we will make use of the small and intimate Hotel Rublevka, situated directly on the banks of the Katun River and the Blue Wolf Ger Camp in Olgii. During trekking on Belukha Mountain, there will be tented camping, and cooks and guide brought along for the journey.

The border crossing at Tashanta (Russian Altai) and Tsaagannuur (Mongolian Altai) is open for third country nationals as of 2005 only.

The Tsengel Hairhan Mountain is a standalone eternally snow-capped mountain, located on the way towards Big Lakes- Hoton and Hurgan. Only few hours drive from Olgii and you reach the mountain. In this remote region the traditional way of life has remained un- disturbed and there are many nomads of different ethnic minorities residing. For example the Kazakhs who are Muslims and the Tuvans who are Buddhist and shamanistic.This rock outcropping is the prominent feature beside the Tsengel Hairhan Glacier. You’ll be rewarded by great views, looking to the glacier. Your panorama will include remote views of the TsambaGarav and Twin Peaks behind you and the Altai Tavan Bogd Peaks to the front.

Day 1

Fly to Russian Altai (GornoAltaisk)

Arrive in Gorno-Altaisk airport early morning and meet by our agent and drive to town. Transfer to local hotel.Explore the city and visit the most interesting - Anokhin's National Museum, where the mummy of the famous "Altai princess" is kept. The mummy of a woman was discovered by the expedition of Novosibirsk archeologist Natalia Polosmak in 1993 in a kurgan of Scythian era on Ukok plateau in Altai, near the border with Mongolia. This find, which has been dated to more than 2,500 years old, is considered to be one of the most significant archeological discoveries of recent times. Native Altaians consider the mummy to be their ancestor and call her "the Altai princess". Overnight at 4* hotel. (LD)

Day 2

Take a shuttle bus towards Belukha Mountian Nat.Park.

Our guide will help you to cath the shuttle bus to reach basecamp, which is situated in a picturesque place on the bank of the Katun River. The road passes through the well-known Chuya Highway among rocky ridges of the Altai Mountains, followed by Kanskaya steppe in Uymonskaya valley. Arriving at Ust-Koksa village to the tourist complex. Lunch. Getting equipment. Safety-awareness briefing. Dinner, acquaintance party. Overnight in tent. (D)

Day 3-4

Hiking along Kucherla river

After breakfast, drive few hrs (64kms) and reach the road end. We start to trek along the river Kucherla (from Altai “Kudzhur-ly”, which means "with saline soils"), formed by the confluence of two mountain streams, Myushtu-Ayry and Koni-Ayry, has an amazing milky-turquoise water. The total length of the river is about 50 km. It cuts a lot of ridges and moraines, beats against the gorges, forming an almost continuous chain of challenging rapids. On the way - visiting a rocky cave near the Kuylyu river, in which niche you can see more than 100 cave paintings. Overnight in tent. (BLD) Next day, hike to Kucherla lake Today we continue our way by Kucherla valley and reach Kucherla lake. The lake is 5220 m long, at 1790 m above sea level elevation, 900 m wide and 55 m deep. The Kucherla Valley has more than 40 tectonic, corrie and moraine lakes. The Kucherla Lake is the largest of them. It is closed by mountain ridges from east and west with loosened rocks up to 3,000 m high, narrow valley of the Kucherla from south and moraine deposits that create a dam from north. The lake is filled with ice, greenish-blue water. Overnight in tent. (BLD).

Day 5-6

Kara Tyurek pass crossing

We have allocated two full days for the crossing of the Belukha mountian range by Kara-Tyurek pass, which is a total of a mere 15km. First day, we will pitch camp before the snow area in timberline. For sure, big game such as Snow Leopards and its prey species, live here, but they are extremely difficult to get to see. Perhaps there is Altai Snowcock. Next day, we will cross the pass at the highest elevation of some 3060m our trek and have the broad views across the Altais. A spectacular panoramic view of Belukha Mountain and endless peaks of Katun ridge. It provides a good opportunity for photo and video shootings. Walk down and arrive to a basecamp near Akkem lake. Overnight in tents. (BLD)

Day 7-8

Rest and Day Hikes around Belukha Mountian

Day one, Hike to Ak-Kemsky glacier and the lake of mountain spirits Visiting the chapel. The path runs along the Ak-kem lake through several picturesque hanging bridges, moves across stone piles in the form of an old moraine and leads to Ak-kem riverhead, coming out of the kingdom of ice and cold. Dinner at the Ak-Kem glacier. It provides an excellent opportunity for photo and video shooting. It is possible to climb up to the lake of Mountain Spirits on the way (optional, and depending on group’s well-being). Day two, to Ak-Oyuk river gorge, valley of seven lakes and Yarley valley The Ak-Oyuk riverhead has the most beautiful lakes, each of which has its own unique color: turquoise, green, milky-blue and blue-black. Descending to the base camp after the hike. Lunch. After lunch - excursion to Yarlu valley (optional), where the entire city is built of stones.

Day 9

Trek down along Ak-kem river

Full day trek through the dramatic steppe valley along the river that drains from the Belukha mountain, creating a series of beautiful lakes. "Ak-Kem", translated from Turkic language, means "white water”. Indeed, the river has milky-white water. The river starts in Ak-Kem glacier and carries small pieces of lime stone from Belukha slopes. Overnight in tent at “Three birches” campside. (BLD).

Day 10

Trek by Kuzuyak Pass (1513m)

After early breakfast, we continue our trekking along Ak-Kem river. Then turn to left by trial to come up the Kuzuyak pass, where you can find several Shaman trees festooned with ribbons - dalailama. Reach Tungur village and meet our vehicle and drive to Ust-Koksa. Overnight in tent. (BLD).

Day 11

Drive to GornoAltaisk

You have free time before lunch. Possible horse ride or rafting. After lunch, visit Verkhniy Uymon village, which is one of the oldest villages in the Ust-Koksinsky area. The village was founded by Old Believers about 300 years ago. It has two museums: Local History Museum named after N.K. Roerich and Old Belief Museum. At 17:00 p.m drive back to GornoAltaisk by shuttle bus. And after 5-6hrs, reach GornoAltaisk city and meet by our guide. Transfer to 3*hotel.

Day 12-13

Explore cultural Altai

Head out of the city towards GornoAltaisk. We travel up the Katun River to Chemal village to visit the small and spectacularly located nunnery of Patmos monastery, situated on a rocky island in the river and accessible by a hanging bridge. We visit the nunnery and learn how priests here converted the Turkic speaking Altai people to Christianity at the end of the 18 th century. Drive towards the Mongolian highlands, crossing several mountain passes. It is a spectacular road journey on a good tarmac road following the Katun and Choy Rivers, almost to the tree line, up several valleys, until we almost reach the tree line. Overnight in the village of Boochi, where we spend time meeting local Altaian families and discovering local archaeological sites like graves and petroglyps. (BLD) Second day, Today, continue our road along the river Choy to the Kosh Agach Plateau, and the town of Kosh Agach, populated by ethnic Kazakhs. 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-Olgii province. Overnight in local hotel. (BLD)

Day 14

Drive to Chigertei Lake (2550m)

Drive to Chigertei Lake, which is a summer pasture area for Kazakh nomadic pastoralists. We will meet with our local hosts for the next few days, which are horse and camel wranglers from the area. If the families have arrived, we will pitch camp next to their yurts on the shore line of the lake. (Tents/LD).

Day 15

Trek (2550-3005m, 5-7hrs)

Load all luggage and equipment on to camels, maybe horses. Trek a short day south through inhabited lush valleys. Trail finders are local Kazakh people who are also the owners of our support animals, like camels or horses. Local people keep also yaks, goats and sheep. (Tents/BLD).

Day 16-17

Trek (3150m-2450m, 6-7hrs)

Today we will continue south through valleys, however now likely devoid of any people as we ascend to higher altitudes towards and across the Jolt Pass (3150m) which is the highest point of the trek, crossing the part called Tsengel Hairhan Nuruu. If the skies are clear (which is likely in June) there will be magnificent views of the snowcapped Altai Mountains. Next day, trek through uninhabited lush valleys in the Altai Mountains. (Tents/BLD).

Day 18-19

Trek (1850m-2950m, 6-7hrs)

Today we turn north again gaining altitude again opening up for the mountain landscapes surrounding us and we will again come down towards the marsh lands near the southern tip of Dayan Lake as we enter Altai Tavanbogd National Park here. We can now see a new group of nomads camps in the distance, who have their summer pastures in the basin of Dayan Lake.Second day, trek (2950m-2425m, 5-7hrs) Trek day northwest direction along the wetlands until we reach the Dayan Lake. Local people are in quite large number as the area has rich pastures usually due to the run off of water from the mountains and the lake side riparian zone. There is difficult to see wildlife here such as Brown Bears and Red Deer (Cervus elaphus). (Tents/BLD).

Day 20

Dayan Nuur Trek (2425m-2550m, 5-7hrs)

Full day trek along the Dayan Lake with crystal clear transparent waters. The open vistas allows for great views of the snow capped mountains - among them Mt Holagash - in the distance. Hopefully pitching camp at the north end of the lake. The trek is great for fishing for Lenok Trout (Lenok brachymystax) and Grayling (Thymallus arcticus) of which Mongolia has four species, and in this area, the largest of all Graylings of the circumpolar north. Great sunset and sunrises here. The lake is rich in bird life of ducks, Whooper Swans, geese, cormorants and gulls. (Tents/BLD)

Day 21

To Drive towards Altai Tavan Bogd Peaks

After early breakfast, we start our driving towards Altai Tavan Bogd Peaks. Drive through the dramatic steppe valley along the river that drains from the Altai Tavanbogd massif, creating a series of beautiful lakes.On the way, we stop near Bashakhan’s family-Kazakh Eagle hunter. Visit his family and feel their grade hospitalities. Bashakhan keep many horses to milk and make a koumiss (nomadic beer). You have a chance see his grade golden eagle and learn some hunting skills. After lunch here, we continue our driving and reach road end near Potanin Glacier. (Tents/BLD)

Day 22-24

Tavanbogd massif (2550m-3300m, 4025m)

First day, trek for 25 km toward the base camp of the snow-capped Tavanbogd massif. Pitch camp next to the Potanin glacier – the biggest of the twenty glaciers in Mongolian Altai. Remain there for two nights. Tavanbogd means “The Holy Five”, referring to the five highest peaks, of which Huiten Uul is the highest in Mongolia, 4374 meters above sea level. Quite a considerable height at this altitude. It is a stunning setting with the awe-inspiring massif of high snow-capped peaks. Second day, rest day and soft hiking around Third day, for a full day (7-8hrs) we will make day hikes to the Malchin Uul. These are non-technical climbs. Overnights in same campside. (B,L,D).

Day 25

Drive to Olgii

After driving 185 km, we reach Olgii and transfer to Blue Wolf Restaurant and have a lunch. The bazaar in Olgii is interesting, as well as the mosque, which has been renovated in recent times. You have the whole day to visit Olgii. There are some very interesting back street handicraft shops and a well-stocked local museum. During a dinner you will enjoy with Kazakh short concert. Overnight at Blue Wolf gercamp. (BLD)

Day 26

Fly to UB

After breakfast, transfer to Olgii airport to catch a flight for Ulaanbaatar. Meet by our guide and transfer to hotel. After lunch, we will do city site seeing tour. Explore Gandan Monastery, Buddhist center in Ulaanbaatar. See Zanabazar Museum Chojin Lama temple. Lunch time in a typical Mongolian Restaurant. The winter Palace Buda Big Statue on the Hill Central market (black) (one or two hours if we have time) Typical folkloric Mongol performance (songs and dances), at the restaurant, during Dinner time (optional). Overnight in 3* or 4* hotel. (B)

Day 27

Depart UB

After early breakfast, transfer to UB airport. (B)

Why choose this tour


Best seller , Fixed date, Cultural nomadic , Nature exploring, Moderate

Duration/Level of difficulty

27 days/Active

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