The Altai trek takes in the mountains which occupy the area where Russia in the north collides with Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China. Part of the region is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In it's description of the importance of the area UNESCO noted that "the region represents the most complete sequence of altitudinal vegetation zones in central Siberia, from steppe, forest-steppe, mixed forest, subalpine vegetation to alpine vegetation". Our trek explores the best of the region in vehicles and on foot.
The spurs of the Katunsky Ridge are one of the most scenic places in all of Russia. The juxtaposition of the wild grandeur of the mountains with peaceful and picturesque landscapes is dramatic. The glacier-covered Belukha Mountain (4503m) is a towering feature. This is the highest peak in Siberia and in the rest of Russia outside the Caucasus. There are many mountain lakes with turquoise waters on the Katunsky ridge.
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 snowcock also make a home of these lands.
The tour takes us to the west and east parts of the Katunsky ridge: to the canyon of Kucherla river and to Kucherlinskii lake. 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. A circus of snow-capped peaks (3000 meters) surrounds the Kucherlinskii lake and is reflected in its quiet water.
Another famous lake we will visit is the Akkem lake. It is smaller, but its waters reflect the peak and glacier of Mount Belukha. These places are a real mecca for mountaineers and artists.
In addition to visiting a unique corner of the world, you will also learn about the ancient culture of the Old Believers (they are the ethnic Russians who split off from the Russian Orthodox Church in 1966 and sought to live a self-sustaining life, in the most remote place they could find).
You can also visit the ethnographic museum in the Verhnii Ujmon village and also places connected with the expeditions of N.K. Roerikh, a famous Russian artist, traveler, archaeologist and writer.
Altai trek itinerary
- Arrive in Barnaul and drive to first camp (day 1)
- Trekking in the Altai mountains (days 2-11)
- Return to Barnaul and depart (days 12-13)
|1||850m||Arrive in Barnaul. A representative meets you at the airport. Travel by bus to reach base camp "Vysotnik" (850 m), which is situated in a picturesque place on the bank of the Katun River near the village of Tiungur. Please note that this is a journey of 750 km taking 12-13 hours. Upon arrival we will have a team welcome dinner. Accommodation is in tents and a sauna and communal toilets are in a separate nearby building. Here there is also a cafe and a small hiking equipment rental centre.|
|2||1100m||We start by passing through Kucherla, the last populated area on the way to the mountains. After we leave civilisation behind, we will follow a path through the forest. Today we have to overcome the Kuzuyak pass (1513 m). The pass isn't high but the walking is pretty hard - it is a test of our stamina. We make camp in a nice meadow on the banks of the Oroktoy brook (1100 m). 6-8 hours hiking, 19 km, 600 m altitude change.|
|3||2000m||Ascending along the Orokto brook to the Tukhman River (2000 m), we will see how the panorama changes from taiga (deep Siberian forest) to high alpine meadows. Overnight is at a picturesque place with great panorama of Mt. Belukha - the highest mountain of Siberia - and surrounding peaks. 7-8 hours hiking, 14 km, 900 m altitude change.|
|4||The trail we are following has the same height level and leads us to the picturesque Kulduairy Lake (2000 m). If we are lucky we may catch a glimpse of a native Moral (a kind of deer) or a marmot. 7-8 hours, 20 km. Altitude change 100 m.|
|5||1800m||We have a reletively short trek today: a moderate ascent and then we find ourselves at a plateau with some weirdly shaped rocks and stones. After a short but steep descent we reach our campsite on the banks of the Tekeliu River (1800 m). In the afternoon we have an optional hike upstream along the river to see two waterfalls, 4 km. 3-4 hours hiking, 10 km, altitude change 500 m.|
|6||1950m||Crossing the Tekeliu River and climbing the Sarybel pass. After long ridge traverse and steep descent we are coming to the Yarlu valley. Then we should cross the Ak-kem River and in a half of an hour we finally reach our permanent high camp (1950 m) where we have dinner and stay for one day. There is a canteen, a sauna and a traditional Altai building called an ail. This camp boasts hypnotic views of the huge snowy massif of Mount Belukha. 7-8 hours, 15 km, altitude change 600 m.|
|7||An excursion day to the Ak-Ojouk valley, which is famous for its seven lakes all of different hues (5-7 hours hiking, altitude change 400 m), or to the Yarlu valley - the high energy place with "stones town" which was created by people visiting Yarlu for a meditation.|
|8||3060||Start the second part of our trekking. We have to work by climbing up the Karatiurek pass (3060 m). The descend from the pass is steep and goes on talus. We camp in the cedar forest. 6-8 hours hiking, 15 km, altitude change 1000 m.|
|9||1760m||After a short ascent to a plateau we are now descending, through the taiga, to the incomparable Kucherla Lake (1760 m). The water of the Ak-kem and Kucherla Lakes calls "dead" and "alive" accordingly. There is a lot of fish in Kucherla. The camp is at the shore of the lake. 4-6 hours, 13 km, altitude change 300 m.|
|10-11||Gradual descent down the Kucherla River with a night camping en-route. We also make a stop to look at the ancient petroglyphs on a rock. Return to the b. c. "Vysotnik". 4-6 hours in each day. 45 km|
|12||Road transfer back up to the city of Barnaul|
|13||Flight out of Barnaul. This can make a direct connection to your International Flight out of Moscow or you may choose to extend your trip with a few days stop over in Moscow. If you have not experienced Moscow then this would be a fantastic opportunity to see the city without additional transport costs. We are able to help you to coordinate and organise accomodation and city tours through our Moscow office. Please note however that you will need to organise this prior to obtaining your visa as the exact flight departure day needs to be specified. Please feel feel free to contact us to discuss options and example itineraries.|
Altai trek cost £1,645.00
- All accommodation
- All food
- Trekking guide
- Group camping equipment
- All permits and registrations
- Visa support
- International Air Fare
- Personal travel insurance
- Visa fee
- Extra accommodation prior to arrival in Barnaul and after drop off in Barnaul
A deposit of £250 is required on booking to secure your place and we ask that the remaining balance (trip price minus the deposit) is paid in full 4 weeks prior to your departure. When you book with us you're given your own secure online account which you can access 24/7. Through this account you can edit your booking, add flight, health, insurance and dietary details and also make interim payments. We make payments as flexible as possible and you can choose, if you wish, to pay a bit off your trip fee whenever it suits you.
Altai trek - fitness and terrain
You do not need to be super-fit for this trip, however the days are moderately demanding with some sustained walking with a backpack. You will enjoy the trip all the more if you are in good physical shape having exercised regularly over at least the 6 months leading up to the trip.
You do need to be in good health as we will spend some time in locations that are many hours from professional medical care. Any pre-existing medical or dental conditions should be fully appraised by a doctor and their nature fully disclosed to your insurer and to ourselves.
TYPE OF TERRAIN
The trek generally follows a well trodden path all the way though this can be rocky and uneven in parts. It is not precipitous and there is no rock climbing or ‘mountaineering’ which requires equipment. It is a walk all the way, although some of the hills can be steep and never-ending. We also do quite a lot of driving between areas.
Altai trek kit list
The basic idea of the kit we will take is to keep you warm, dry, protected from the sun, able to move efficiently on the mountains and able to be comfortable in the evenings and night.
- BAGS - Large Rucksack ~75L
- SHELL - Top and bottoms to keep off wind/rain
- INSULATION - Warm layered system to keep you warm- body hands & Head
- BASELAYER - Thin layers to wick away sweat and to strip down to when it gets hot
- FEET - Good waterproof trekking boots, flip flops/sandals for evenings
- SLEEPING - Warm sleeping bag to get a good nights sleep at the refuge
- EATING/DRINKING - Water bottles & favorite snacks for during the day
- WASHING & MEDICAL - To allow you to wash and maybe stave off a headache or blister
- We have a subsidiary company in Russia with full time Russian emloyees to ensure a smooth trip with expert backup.
- Our Russian Guide Alexander 'Sasha' Lebedev is hugely experienced as a mountain and wilderness guide all over Russia.
- Sasha is also the author of many guidebooks including one on the Russian Altai Mountains and another on the Mongolian Altai Mountains.
- We are a fully registered operator with AITO and have financial bonding with ABTOT. We have all the relevant company insurances.
- We are members on Interhealth which gives you access to pre-trip health information and on-site assistance by phone in the event of an emergency.
- We are a company founded and run by people who are passionate about trekking, climbing and exploring in the world's most beautiful wildernesses. We are equally passionate about having the opportunity to share these experiences with others.
You can book your Adventure Alternative holiday for as little as £100.00 and pay the balance in as many instalments as you like. Choose a scheduled date or contact us for private dates, a bespoke itinerary or more trip details.
- Duration 12 days
- Numbers 5-10
- Altitude 3000m
- Challenge Moderate
- Comfort Camping & Lodges