Experience real winter
Catch your awesome moments in Siberia
Follow the beautiful rivers
Feel Altai at Altyn-Köl
Experience Siberian Winter
As cold and as beautiful as you expect in Altai
21-28 February 2021 (8 days)
From 1.050 EURO (from Gorno-Altaisk)
min. 4, max. 7 participants
Day 1. Welcome!
We will meet you at the airport of Gorno-Altaisk, have breakfast together and then drive to our first destination on the bank of the Katun river. Katun is the main river of Altai. It is never completely frozen during winter. In some places you can see its beautiful streaming green water, in some places it goes completely under the ice and in some places broken ice forms fancy figures.
Next 2 days we will stay in a comfortable cottage owned by a very hospitable local family just near the Katun river. This area is rather specific, the temperature is usually 5-7 degrees higher than in Gorno-Altaisk and the snowpack is pretty thin.
After arriving at our cottage, you will have free time to have a rest and/or sleep. As we know that night flights are quite exhausting, the first day in Altai will be relaxing. As soon as you are refreshed, you can have a peaceful walk in a pinewood along the Katun river.
In the evening you will get acquainted with local culture – watching a concert of traditional music with throat singing.
Driving: 100 km.
Day 2. Hiking to the frozen waterfall and husky-sledging
Today we will first drive along the beautiful Katun river about 1.5 hours with some stops to look at non-frozen rapids of the river or interesting viewpoints. A very special place is Oroktoy bridge across the Katun where the Katun flows in a narrow and very deep split in the rocks.
After the drive we will go hiking in the so-called Valley of mountain spirits. In Altaian language it is called Chechkysh, which is translated as very thin, very narrow. And that’s true, a small river is lodged between headlong rocks up to 150 meters high. The valley is only 15 meters wide in some places.
From our starting point the walk will not be long – about 2 km one way but the path is pretty steep.
The path goes along a small river which is usually not completely frozen but beautiful ice sparkles on the stones or bushes. We will pass a water spring which is considered among local people as a holy place, and special rituals take place there.
Soon we will see a waterfall. It is not big, only 3 meters high but frost makes it absolutely charming.
A bit further in the valley there are ancient petroglyphs which depict deer and wild goats. There is a version that this narrow valley was ideal for hunting and a special sanctuary was organized there.
On our way back from the waterfall we keep to the right and a bit higher we will have a fantastic view to both sides of the valley of the Katun river.
After lunch we go to meet the huskies! First, we will visit the center of sledge-dog breeding where hosts will tell us interesting stories about their dogs, sledging experience and their victories in the competitions. And of course, you will be able to hug, kiss and take pictures of these affectionate animals.
In Altai husky sledging is not so popular yet and the number of dogs in the center is not big. So, we will have to go for sledging in turn. Firstly, you will experience it as a passenger in the sledge driven by a professional dog-team driver. But if you wish, you can take some lessons and try driving it yourself.
In the evening – relax in the banya (Russian sauna).
Day 3. To Teletskoye lake
This day we will drive to our second destination on the bank of Teletskoye lake, to a real winter taiga. Lake Teletskoye or Altyn-Köl, which means “Golden Lake” is a beautiful, large and very deep (up to 325 meters) lake in the Altai mountains. It is included in the UNESCO Heritage list. In the north of Teletskoye lake the snowpack is usually pretty high – 1-1.5 meters and in some years it can reach 2.5 meters. Teletskoye lake gets completely frozen only once in 8-10 years. Usually in the middle a part of the water stays open for the whole winter, the northern part of the lake is always frozen.
The drive will take us about 4-5 hours but we will make several stops not to get bored. First stop – at the legendary orthodox church on the Patmos island in the village Chemal. It looks very picturesque with a narrow suspension bridge connecting it with the land. The church was built in 1915 but then completely destroyed by Soviet power. And only in 2000 by initiative and with a lot of efforts of a private person the church was restored in correspondence with the old pictures.
We will also stop at the so-called Dragon’s teeth, triangular rocks coming out of the river just in the middle. In Gorno-Altaisk we will visit the National Museum of the Altai Republic. It exhibits the famous “Siberian Ice Maiden” and other interesting items about the past in the Altai Republic. After the museum we will have lunch and continue our way to the lake.
Closer to the evening we will arrive at our new accommodation – a cosy wooden cottage hidden in the Siberian forest.
Driving: 260 km.
Day 4. Exploring winter taiga
After the long drive yesterday we will have a free morning to relax a bit or make a small walk. After lunch we will have a walk along Teletskoye lake and then in the winter forest along the ecological path to another frozen waterfall. You will see a lot of small birds which stay for winter in Siberia and even footprints of wild animals in the deep snow.
In the evening – a good method to get warm and relaxed – we visit the Russian banya!
Day 5. Altaian culture and traditional forest ski
To start the day we will drive to the valley of the river Iogach, there we will go up with the cable road which will deliver us to the top of the mountain Kokuya which is 1385 meters a.s.l. There are absolutely fantastic views almost 360 degrees around from the top of the mountain. We can even see a part of Teletskoye lake. Besides, there is a very nice café with tasty hot coffee.
When we are down again, we will get acquainted with the culture and traditions of local people – northern Altaians in the ethnographic center which is situated in the next village (in 25 km). Friendly hosts will tell a lot about the history and traditions of Tubаlar people and even will show some rituals. You will enjoy lunch with dishes of Altaian cuisine and even will see how some meals are cooked.
In this center you can find real Altaian hunting skis with bottoms covered with horseskin. These skis are perfect for skiing in the deep snow in the forest (horsehair digs into the snow when skier climbs but glides on descents) and have been used for thousands of years. Historians are still arguing where skiing was born. Some consider it arose in Scandinavia and north-west of Russia, others point to the Altai region. Scientists continue to find evidence of these early skiers engraved in rock and preserved in bogs.
The ethnographic center is situated on the bank of the second big and significant river – Biya. The confluence of Katun and Biya gives birth to the Great Siberian river Ob. We will walk along a Shaman’s path and you will get to know about local religions and beliefs.
In the evening we will return to our forest cottage.
Day 6. The real beauty of Teletskoye lake and Altai reserve
Today we will devote the whole day to the village Yailu which is situated on the territory of the Altai nature biosphere reserve. The reserve covers a total area of 881,238 ha, it still remains one of Russia’s largest reserves.
The place where the village is situated is rather unique. Here the lake makes its turn and due to a lot of winds almost never gets frozen (only in very severe winters) but creates fancy ice sculptures on the stones and trees. Here is the only point where you can see both the southern and the northern parts of the lake.
The drive to Yailu will take almost 2.5 hours along twisting snow-covered roads through the real Siberian taiga. Upon arrival, we will visit the Altai reserve office where the rangers will tell us about the lake and the reserve. After a short walk in the village and the first approach to the lake we go for lunch at a hospitable local family.
Then we will go hiking along the bank of the lake till the Chichilgan cape (3 km one way) from where both sides of the lake are visible. Along our way we will explore fantastic ice sculptures and enjoy beautiful views.
In the evening we will return to our cottage and have a Russian banya to make you feel like new after the intense day.
Day 7. Way to Gorno-Altaisk. Museum of kaichi
First we will have breakfast before we will start our way back to Gorno-Altaisk. In the village Paspaul we will stop in the museum of Altaian national story-teller Nikolai Ulagashev.
After arriving to Gorno-Altaisk you will have the possibility to buy authentic souvenirs for yourself and your friends. In the evening we invite you to the restaurant to enjoy the last dinner of this trip together.
You will stay in a hotel in Gorno-Altaisk.
Day 8. Flight back
After breakfast we will transfer you to the airport for your flight home or to your next destination.
If you want to join us or have questions, please send us this message, and we will contact you as soon as possible.