FROSTY SAFARI
Winter tour to the Altai Mountains
and Siberian Wilderness

Dates: February, 2019
8 days / 7 nights
ABOUT THE TOUR


Enjoy genuine Siberian winter in the Altai Mountains. This destination is considered by World Community as one of the last remaining untouched areas of the world and a rich treasure trove of biodiversity (included into Global-200, the list of ecoregions identified by WWF as priorities for conservation). You will be fascinated by the largest unbroken stretches of coniferous forest in the world, UNESCO World Heritage Natural Sites, indigenous folk programs, traditional cuisine. You could fill out your portfolio with spectacular photos of rare animals (most of them are included into the Red List of endangered species) and breathtaking mountain landscapes. You will see European bisons, Altaian argali and whooper swans.
You will visit the warmest and the coldest places of the Altai Mountains - Nizhnyaya Katun River's Valley and Chuiskaya Steppe (semi-desert near the Mongolian boarder). Activities during your holidays are the following: Russian indigenous bath-house (banya), dog sledding (Husky) and visit of ski-resort «Manjerok». An exciting ethnic program will provide your acquaintance with local culture and rites. You will discover traditions of local people, hear unique throat singing and also participate indigenous Russian ceremonies.

Activities
Paragliging and motor hang gliding
Whitewater rafting
Trekking and hiking
Helicopter excursion
Horse riding
Off-road driving
8 days / 7 nights
Departure from Gorno-Altaisk airport
Folk programs and traditional cuisine
Russian cuisine
Siberian peasant and merchant mansion
Russian folk rites and songs
Traditional cuisine of nomadic people of Altai
Altai throat singing
1200 km
Land transportation by Toyota Land Cruiser vehicle specially prepared for off-road driving

Belokurikha Resort
The Katun River
Mt Belukha
Chuisky Highway
Seminsky and Chike-Taman Passes
Ilgumensky Rapid on the Katun River
Confluence of the Katun and Chuya Rivers
Rock Drawings of Kalbak-Tash
Kuraiskaya Steppe and the Severo-Chuisky Ridge
Accommodation in well-furnished hotels and cozy cabins
Echo Eco-Hotel - 2 nights, 4 stars hotel
TourSib Hotel - 1 night (timber cottage with en-suite WC and shower)
Inegen Lodge - 2 nights (cozy cabin on the bank of the Katun River with en-suite WC and shower)
TourSib Hotel - 1 night (timber cottage with en-suite WC and shower)
Morning and evening photo shoots
You will not miss a single sunrise or sunset and can capture your best pictures of in the Altai Mountains
Map of the trip (Day 1 and Day 2)

The red line indicates the itinerary, blue points - overnight places and extreme points of the route

1 - Gorno-Altaisk Airport;
2 - Belokurikha Resort, Echo Hotel
3 - Paraglider's Camp
Map of the trip (from Day 3 to Day 5)

The red line indicates the itinerary, blue points - overnight places and extreme points of the route

1 - TurSib Hotel
2 - Mt Belukha
3 - Inegen Lodge
4 - Severo-Chuisky Ridge
5 - airport of Gorno-Altaisk

1-2-3 - helicopter excursion
Map of the trip (Day 6 and Day 7)

The red line indicates the itinerary, blue points - overnight places and extreme points of the route

1 - Inegen Lodge
2 - TurSib Hotel
3 - airport of Gorno-Altaisk
Altai
Altai is considered by World Community as one of the last untouched areas of the planet and a rich treasure trove of biodiversity (included into Global-200, the list of ecoregions identified by WWF as priorities for conservation). Translated from Mongolian language as "Golden Mountains", Altai was inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage List under this title. Golden Mountains of Altai nomination includes Altaisky Nature Reserve and Lake Teletskoye, Katunsky Nature Reserve and Mount Belukha, the Ukok Plateau. Located in four countries - Russia, Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan - the Altai Mountains stretch up for two thousand kilometers from Siberian wilderness to Central Asian semi-deserts. The highest peak is Mt Belukha (4506 m).
1 DAY
Altai Switzerland
Driving distance - 140 km, walking - 5 km
Accommodation - Echo Eco-Hotel, Belokurikha resort
Full board meal - breakfast, lunch and dinner at the restaurant of the hotel

Arrive in Gorno-Altaisk, where you will be met at the airport and transferred to Ekho Hotel. Breakfast upon the arrival at the restaurant of Gorno-Altaisk or at the restaurant of the Echo Hotel after 2-hour transfer.
Spare time and leisurely walking in the forest near the hotel. After lunch we'll reach the top of Mt Tserkovka (815 m above the sea level) via chairlift. You will observe the vast mountainous country from the top of the mountain. Don't forget to bring sunflower seeds to feed chipmunks which are in great number here. Afterwards we will walk along the bank of the Belokurikha River to the Old Mill or Shishi area.
In the evening we will watch the stars through telescope. An austronomer from the University of Gorno-Altaisk will tell us about mysteries of the Universe (this activity could be carried out in another day according to the weather conditions).

Belokurikha is a small resort city situated at the foothills (250 m above the sea level) on the border of the Altai Mountains and Predaltaiskaya Plain. Scenic landscapes of Belokurikha are similar to Switzerland. Climate of the resort is good for health due to high air ionization and termal radon springs. The concentration of light air ions in Belokurikha is twice more than in famous Davos in Switzerland. Belokurikha is comparable with resorts of the Black Sea shore in number of sunny days.
2 DAY
Altai from the bird's eye view
Driving distance - 100 km
Accommodation - Echo Eco-Hotel, Belokurikha resort
Full board meal - breakfast and dinner at the restaurant of the hotel, lunch - at the cafe of Yurt Camp

Today we'll have an exiting flight over the Altai mountains by paraglider and motor hang-glider in the Bobrovaya Zaimka Camp, the only camping for paragliders in Siberia. You will have a short training and then jump from the top of Mt Tolstukha accompanied by experienced instructor. For 10 minutes you will enjoy the soaring flight over the Altai foothills at the altitude of 300-600 m. The flight time can be increased for additional payment according to weather conditions.
After tasty lunch at the Yurt Camp we will have an excursion to Belokurikha-2 resort. You can capture the picturesque landscapes of mountain pass and visit historical complex Andreevskaya Sloboda. Here you will immerse at the atmosphere of a Siberian village of the 19th century. Merchant's mansion, bread house, forge, peasant house, house of sorceress, distillery are decorated with real utensil and gear collected during ethnographic expeditions to hard-to-reach villages in the Altai Mountains. Afterwards we'll visit a very tasty Museum of a Chocolate with skillful art-works and chocolate statues.
Overnight at Echo Hotel.
3 DAY
Rafting on the Katun River
Driving distance - 230 km
Accommodation - TurSib Hotel
Full board meal - breakfast - Echo Hotel Restaurant, lunch and dinner at the restaurant of the TurSib hotel

After breakfast we will go by car to the Katun River valley. This river is the largest in the Altai Mountains. It's source is on the slope of Mt Belukha (the highest summit of Altai) at the altitude of 2000 m. Most likely we will admire the blooming rhododendron shrubs on rocky banks of the river which are flowering in the beginning of May.
We will accommodate in the TurSib Hotel on the bank of the Katun River in pine-tree forest. Upon arrival to the hotel you will enjoy Russian cuisine in cozy restaurant of the hotel. Afterwards we'll have a 3-hour whitewater rafting and excursion to the Kamyshlinsky Waterfall.
Russian bath-house or banya with small basin will help you to relax after whitewater adventures. Hot steam with aroma of a birch broom, cold invigorating water in a small basin and herbal tea with honey will be the successful final of this day full of extreme emotions.
4 DAY
Towards the highest mountain of Altai
Distance - 360 km by helicopter, hiking - 3-5 km
Accommodation - Inegen Lodge, cozy cabin with en-suite WC&shower
Full board meal - breakfast at the restaurant of TurSib Hotel, packed lunch at the Akkemskoye Lake near Mt Belukha, dinner at the cafe of Inegen Lodge (indigenous cuisine of Altai people)

Please, notice that Mt. Belukha is located on the Russian-Kazakhstan border. We need to prepare special permit to visit the border zone. Documents should be submitted not less then 60 days before the visit date.

Helicopter excursion to the highest mountain of Siberia, Mount Belukha (4506 meters, or 14783 ft), would be the highlight of the whole trip without any doubt. We'll cross the vast ocean of the Altai Mountains by helicopter towards the summit of the Altai - Mt. Belukha. It is included into UNESCO World Heritage List as a part of Golden Mountains of Altai nomination. We will observe crowned by glaciers peaks from the bird's eye view and finally land at the bank of Lake Akkemskoye. This lake was formed by one of the glaciers descending from the slope of Mt Belukha. The two glittering peaks of Mt Belukha reflect in the lake surface like in a mirror.
We'll explore the picturesque banks of Lake Akkemskoye and hike towards the Chapel of Archangel Michail near the Akkemsky Glacier (2,5 hours round trip).
Please note that Mt Belukha is situated in the alpine zone (more then 2000 m). There is high probability of low temperatures and even sudden snow storm. It is highly recommended to take warm and waterproof clothes, warm hat and gloves. Also you will need sunglasses and sunscreen.
On way back to the lake we will have a packed lunch or picnic. Afterwards we'll be transferred to Inegen Lodge, located on the bank of the Katun River. Your late afternoon could be devoted to various optional activities such as leisurely walking along the river bank or horse riding.
The evening will be marked by acquaintance with native culture. A special dinner will be served with traditional Altaic meals based on cereals, milk and meat products. You will taste boorsok - fried dough pieces, kurut - smoked and dried cheese, archi - soft cheese, buur - skewers of lamp liver, kan - blood sausage and other traditional meals. Afterwards you will enjoy gripping transcendental throat singing of a kaichi, a skillful performer of native epic songs.
The summit of the Altai Mountains and UNESCO World Heritage object. Mt Belukha, crowned with two sparkly white peaks and more then 160 glaciers, stands high above the Katunsky Ridge and Altai mountains. Its peaks can be observed far away from many passes and ridges. Mt. Belukha is depicted in the Coat of Arms of the Altai Republic symbolizing vast Altai ridges itself. Its name originated from the Russian word belaya or white due to the large snow cover on the slopes. Indigenous inhabitants of Altai used to name it Kadyn-Bazhi that means the source of the Katun River. One should be very lucky to see this majestic and capricious Tzarina of Altai hidden behind clouds most of the year.
5 DAY
Towards the Snowcapped Peaks of the Altai
Driving distance - 260 km
Accommodation - Inegen Lodge, a cozy cabin with en-suite WC&shower
Full board meal - breakfast and dinner - at the cafe of Inegen Lodge, lunch - cafe of Kochivnik (the nomad) Lodge

This morning we'll drive towards the Severo-Chuisky Ridge crowned by glaciers and snowcaps. Make sure your camera is charged up! After one-hour trekking to the top of windswept mountain we'll capture one of the most significant panoramas of the Altai - glittering 4000-meter (13,000-ft) Aktru and Kurkurek summits and winding silver band of the Chuya River. You will enjoy the first signs of spring - demoiselle cranes and fluffy pasque flowers. On the way back to the Lodge we'll explore small scenic turquoise lake in coniferous forest. The lake was named Geizernoye (lit. geyser) due to gurgling caused by air bubble on its bottom. Then we will visit Kalbak-Tash sanctuary. We will explore several thousands of rock drawings and get to know with history of nomads of Southern Siberia. Overnight at Inegen Lodge.
Mountainous highway through the Altai Mountains to Mongolia. It is considered as the northern branch of the Great Silk Road. The highway was ranked in the list of 10 most beautiful roads of the world by National Geographic of Russia magazine.
Kalbak-Tash Rock Drawings
A kind of an open-air museum and rich treasury of ancient cosmological ideas and beliefs of ancient dwellers of Altai curved on rock surfaces. Various mythological plots and ritual scenes from the end of Stone Age to Medieval battles and runic inscriptions unfold before your eyes through exploring those unique petroglyphs.
6 DAY
Secrets of an ancient road
Coming back to the vicinity of Gorno-Altaisk by Chuisky Highway

Driving distance - 290 km by car
Accommodation - TurSib Hotel, cabin with en-suite WC&shower
Full board meal - breakfast at the Inegen Lodge, lunch at the cafe of Uch-Enmek Lodge, dinner at the restaurant of TurSib Hotel

Today we'll follow the spring along the most beautiful highway of Russia. We'll visit the place of power on the confluence of the Katun and Chuya rivers. Afterwards we'll plunge into the blooming Rhododendron shrubs on the rocks near the village of Kupchegen and capture the stunning Ilgemensky Rapid on the Katun River. We'll observe the Altai Mountains from the bird's eye view on the top of the rocky Chike-Taman Pass and pass through the Siberian pine-tree forest on the Seminsky Pass. Probably, there will be snow on the top of the pass at the altitude of 1717 meters.
Upon the arrival to the hotel you will enjoy the Russian folk rites accompanied by Albina Bogochanova from Altai State Museum of Arts, an awardee of Russia Event Award - 2017. Overnight at TurSib Hotel.

7 DAY
Departure to the airport and flight to Moscow
Driving distance - 75 km
Meal - packed breakfast
Packed breakfast is provided, but there are no group activities today. At 7 a.m. you will be transferred to the airport of Gorno-Altaisk for returning flight to home. Farewell!
You will be accompanied by experienced guide and driver
We recommend our best driver to make your travel exiting and safe. Our driver, Victor Obodets, is a multiple champion in Russian Off-Road Contest. All land transportation will be provided by special Toyota Land Cruiser prepared for off-road driving. Here you can see some pictures of the vehicle.
TOURIST EQUIPMENT AND GEAR
Clothes
May weather is extremely contrast in the Altai Mountains. You can enjoy a really hot summer one day, and suddenly experience the snowstorm and low temperatures next day. Having warm, windproof and waterproof clothes is a matter of safety and getting satisfaction of the tour. You should pack into your travel bag some T-shirts, fleece jacket, membrane jacket/windbreaker, trekking boots, comfortable shoes for hiking, warm hat and gloves, fleece trousers, windproof trousers, sport socks, cap or kerchief, sunglasses, swim suite for bath house, rubber slippers.
Photography gear
The more lenses you take, the more opportunities to capture WOW-shoots you will have. You will need a long-focus lens or telephoto lens (for example, 150-600 or 200-500), wide-angle lens (fisheye, 14-24 or 17-35 etc), standard lens or zoom, for example 24-70, 24-120, speed light. Recharger, additional memory cards and set of filters (graduated and polar). Don't forget to take a tripod for morning, evening and night shoots.
Equipment
Backpack or bag for photography gear, rain cover for backpack, waterproof bag for documents, backpack for clothes, headlamp with additional batteries.
Documents
Documents, pasport, visa, money and card, mobile phone and recharging, medical insurance.
Medicine
Preparations for motion sickness in transport, individual medicine. May is the high-risk season of tick-borne encephalitis transmitted by the bite of several species of infected ticks. It is highly recommended to vaccinate in advance to prevent tick-borne encephalitis.
Personal Higyene
Sunscreen (SPF 50), hygienic and sunscreen lipstick (with UV-filter), toothbrush and toothpaste, shampoo, soap and bast.
PHOTO&VIDEO CREDITS: Pavel Filatov
All graphic materials belong to their owners and are used for demonstration purposes only. Please do not use them in commercial projects.
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