Altay off-road tour

More and more friends asking how much was a cost of our trip in Altay mountains in June last year. They also asking about places we visited, places we stopped overnight and so on. I even started reading through all the receipts we got, counting all expences we did, but then realised I would never finish.



So, instead, I have decided to give a microphone to Oleg, our guide and off-road driver. I met him about 10 years ago and I can recommend him as a professional driver, who has also won a few local off-road championships and competitions,a member of a few international expeditions, a hunter, a fisherman and just a good guy. Oleg, it’s your turn now )

— Oleg, I’ll start with the main question. Why off-road tour? Why shouldn’t I drive a car or take a bus tour instead?

— Hi! It’s very simple. You won’t be able to see the most of the iconic Altay gems on a car or a bus, but only crowded touristic places.

Off-road tour is an extreme, excitement and an achievement! You can reach places, where only a few human beings have been before!

— Wow-wow, take it easy man! I have just returned from off-road tour! Seriosly, I’d love to go again ) How much is that?

— Depends on a programm. As you know, programms are very individual. There are sooo many places everyone wants to see. Basically, renting an off-road truck with a driver costs you $160 USD per day. Which doesn’t include other expences like accomodation, cafees, visiting places with admission and buying souvenirs. The best option is to travel in a group with an agreed tour program. As I said, programs are different and need to be discussed with a client in advance. As an example, a big 12 days tour with a very rich program and a total milerange of 1300 km will cost you $1160 USD per person.

— Seems like a proper expedition! And sounds very interesting. Can you please give more detailed description of that tour?

— Sure thing! Belokurikha – national boundar Sheki – Karpovo village – Shinok waterfalls – Denisov cave – Ust-Kan village – Chuysky Trakt – Chike-Taman pass – Geyser lake – Taldura glacier – Kyzyl-Tash – Oroktoy pass – Teldekpen rapids – Elanda village – Chemal village – Kuyum river – Karakol lakes – Urlu-Aspak village – Mayma village – Platovo village – Babyrgan – Belokurikha

Day 1: Our trip will start at national boundary Sheki. This is a unique canyon of three valleys. We will drive upon Tatarnik pass, will see a warrior looking rock and a cave. You can visit the village of Old believers and learn some interesting facts about the village and its history. Driving up on Tolstuha mountain will make everyone happy, giving unbelievable view to the river valley.

Day 2: Visiting Denisov cave, a unique archeological object, which has a few cultural layers. Visiting Shinok waterfalls. Using our 4 wheel drive vehicle, we will get as closer as we can to the objects however, we need to walk part of the trail nearby picturesque river.

Day 3: Denisov cave – Yakonur village – Yabogan village – Yabogan pass – Tuekta village – staying overnight after passing Chicke-Taman pass. Beautiful drive through mountain landscapes, will give you a feeling of unity with nature. After getting on Chuysky Trakt you will experience one of the most beautiful Altay passes, Chike-Taman pass.

Day 4: While driving, we will enjoy beatuiful landscapes, merging Katun and Chuya river, will visit petroglyph place Kalback-Tash, then will visit amazing and the only one geyser lake. Staying overnight on picturesque bank of Kyzyl-Tash river, opposite to Akt-tru glacier.

Day 5: Kyzyl-Tash – Beltyr village – Taldura river valley – Taldura glacier. Staying overnight at the bank of Taldura river. Watching epicenter of the earthquake, gigantic landslides and Marsian landscapes of glacier.

Day 6: Taldura river – Beltyr village – Akkol river. Watching moon landscapes, rocky mountains and white river sand. Staying overnight at Akkol river valley.

Day 7: Coming back to Kyzyl-Tash for overnight stay. Watching the glacier highlighted wiht red colours of sunset and sunrise.

Day 8: Driving towards Oroktoy pass, which is impassable for normal cars. Watching the beautiful landscapes. Staying overnight on the pass.

Day 9: Watching Teldekpen rapids also known as Stamp rapids from Oroktoy suspension bridge. This is the narrowest and deepest place of Katun river. Picturesque place «gorge of spirits» and Chemal. We will drive towards Karakol river via Kuym river using offroad features of our vehicle. Staying overnight on the way to the lakes.

Day 10-11: Visiting Karakol lakes, castle of mountain spirits and Karakol waterfall, located high in the mountains. You will feel enormous energy of seven lake. You will see alpine meadows, real tayga and snow in the summer.

Day 12: Coming back from Karakol lakes towards Gorno-Altays via Urlu-Aspak having an unbelievable OFFROAD. Watching Babyrgan mountain, driving back to Belokurikha town.

— Great! Do you have a shorter program?

— Yep! We have a shorter tours with minimumal duratoin of 7 days. Here is an example of one of these tours (it will cost you approximately $680 USD per person):

Day 1: Our trip starts at national boundary Sheki. This unique place is regularly visited by people searching for cosmic energy. We will visit an abandoned village of Old Believers.

Day 2 and 3: Visiting Denisov cave. Watching Shinok waterfalls. Using our 4 wheel drive vehicle, we will get as closer as we can to the objects however, we need to walk part of the trail nearby picturesque river. The legend says every whaterfall has a spirit, which can help to a traveller or punish him, if he behaves badly.

Day 4: We will drive on old Chuysky Trakt. We will visit a very beautiful place called the valley of spirit, or natural boundary Che-Chkysh. Then we will watch Stump rapids on Katun river.

Day 5: Climbing uphill to Karakol lakes. On the way to the lakes you will see wild and beautiful Altay as it is. We’ll stay overnight at fifth lake.

Day 6: Walking nearby 7 lakes to get positive energy. This placed is used to initiate shaman. If you are lucky enough, you will see an image of black monk who is protecting the castle of moutain spirits.

Day 7: Coming back on Chuysky Trakt and driving back to home.

— How much does it cost to eat in a cafe in Altay? Is there are any chief in the group?

— A lunch in a cafe will cost you from $5 USD per person. For the 12 days off-road tour, we have a dedicated chief who is in charge of cooking.

— How much does an accomodation cost? On average? Where are we going to stay overnight during the tour? Who is in charge of booking?

— Depends on the tour. On average, a night staying in a motel or a hut will cost you from $8 per person. We will make all the bookings and reservation. Some place in your tour program may require sleeping in tents we provide. If you want, you can always bring your own tents and sleeping bags.

— Can you please tell me, what medical insurance or vaccines I need to have before going?

— Get a life insurance and make sure to be vaccinated against encephalitis.

— What do I need to wear? What types of clothes would you recommend to take for the summer off-road trip in Altay?

— Get a plenty of T-shorts with you ) Summer can be very hot! However, you also may need to bring pants, hoodies and light jackets – the weather in the mountain area sometimes can be unpredictable.

— Will I have time to go fishing during the evening? Does it make sense to bring my fishing rod with me?

— We’ll provide you with fishing rods, however, you can always bring your own gear.

— Where do you start off-road tour? Can you pick me up in the airport?

— We can met you straight in the airport (options are: Gorno-Altaysk or Spichenkovo) or pick you up from a hotel.

— What is the best way to contact you, ask any questions regarding off-road tour and show interest?

— Send me a message via contact form below, ask any questions, leave your preferable contact details so I can get in touch with you:

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— What you would like to say to those people who have never been visiting Altay before? Or have visited only popular tourist places where everyone goes?

— Come and visit Altay! We will met you in the airport, feed you with delicious food and delicatessen and will show you all the variety, beautiness and power of Altay! The truck is ready for new adventures!

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Ivan Grigoryev's Blog
Living in New Zealand. Blogging about the country, beautiful places, everyday life.
Do a skydive - halfway completed; get 1400 - still working on; reach 300kph - completed by 96.6%