Altay road trip, day three

We stayed overnight in a motel in Kosh-Agach, which cost us 800 rubles for a two bedroom room. It was definitely not the best place to stay however, it was almost impossible to get anything better at 1AM. I have to admit, after spending the whole day on the road, we had a very well sleep. By the way, during the night, the temperature has dropped down to +7C. We woke up, had a shower, got our car fuelled up, had a breakfast at Elaman cafe and move back to North. I think everyone was complaining about headake. Looks like we got mountain sickness, finally. Think about it – on day before, we passed through a few mountain passes, with altitude difference up to two thousand meters! So it was wise to drive back to the Gas station to buy a fresh coffee. 🙂

Part one. “Mars”

Kyzyl-Chin is literally piece of Mars here on Earth. At some point we thought that the place can be seen from Chuysky tract, however, to get there, we had to drive 20 kilometers to pass Chuya river over the bridge and then drive further through steppe following road signs put there by agropark employees.

As soon as we arrived at the carpark, we were told that every passenger have to pay 100 rubles for the carpark. We refuced and then stuff member gave us an advice in a very polite way to drive up on the far hill, where we could observe and enjoy Mars-1, Mars-2 and even some ancient petroglyphs for free. I think I need to tell you a bit more about charges and fees you have to pay when you travel through Mountain Altay, but not today.

So, we followed the advice, turned around, drove 1.5 kilometers and then pulled of the road towards the hill through the steppe. As soon as we got on the summit we had seen such an amazing views!

Mars is a very cool place! I was very upset to leave it. I wish we could have an hour or two of spare time, so we could walk and enjoy Marsian landscapes from a closer distance.

And now we are driving again on Chuysky trakt, making a short stops near lookouts, waterfalls and springs to get some fresh water.

Part two. “Geyser lake”

The name of the lake can be misleading, because there are no geysers in Altay mountains. And it would be better to call it as a Blue lake. It is located in Ulagan regeon, nearby Aktash village, close enough to the Chuysky tract however, you have to walk 10 minutes to the lake. We were charged 30 rubles each for the pass made through a swamp.

And I think it was definitely worth it. It is a very clear and beautiful lake, surrounded by mistical pine tree forest.

There is a spring at the bottom of the lake, so you can see how it pushes sand and clay and creates this fantastical patterns.

Just in case, here is another picture, showing a group of tourists around the lake so you don’t get confused.

Wooden walkway and again, group of tourists walking back from the lake.

Part three. “Katu Jaryk Pass”

We made a stop at Aktash to have lunch. Surprisingly to us, every lamb meal at the cafe that we had lunch was cooked with beef. Also, we noticed, there are lack of honey in Mountain Altay. Atleast, you can not buy crepes with honey. We moved further, After we had our meals finished. As soon as you leave Aktash village there is a local sight, Red gates – a very narrow passage in between two red rocks, near Chibitka stream.

These rocks have cinnabar which is the reason they are red coloured. The higth of both rocks is around 50 meters.

We didn’t stop neither at Ulagan township, neither at Balyktuyul village so we got at Katu Jaryk one hour before sunset. The pass into the valley of Chulyshman river is made at the mountain side with an angle of 35 degrees. Before Katu Jaryk pass was opened in 1987, locals had been using a very steep horse track.

Being translated from Altay language, Jaryk means gorge.

Just a boulder on the edge of the abyss, every tourist should make a picture with

Stone towers, as a gratefulness and offerings to mountain spirits for a successful passage

It turned out, that in 2011, there was a construction of another, new, safer and alternative pass, however, all roadworks were stopped in 2015 😐

Very impressive. It just 800 meters in height but when you look at these mountains it seems like 1500!

Valley of Chulyshman river, which flows straight into Teletskoye Lake

Part four, final and most emotional. “Descent”

As I already mentioned, the height of pass is 800 meters,

The lenght of pass is 3.5 kilometers, it has 9 turns, and it is sealed with gravel.

We drove down without any issues, not to mentioned our ladies were scared to death. Well, think about it – very narrow and windy mountain road, almost sheer slope and bottomless abyss! о_О

We stayed overnight at Katu Jaryk camp, in a small bach houses with double bedroom, which cost us 500 rubles each. Bathrooms are outside.

I would say it’s a cozy place I would like to recommend. We especially enjoyed to relax in a brand new banya, which cost us 700 rubles per hour. It just made our day!

Another guest houses, dozens of them! And a little bit of math. Average price you pay to stay at these houses is 1000 rubles. Let’s say tourist season here lasts only 100 days per year. Now, multiply this by amount of guest houses, which is around 10 to 20 and you get one, may be two million of rubles, plus additional profits made in cafe and banya. With no ensuit rooms. I think, not too bad!

It was obvious to us that our guest house was a brand new – there was a smell of pine tree inside, furniture and beddings was new as well.


Every guest house has a small summer house

Oleg has cought grayling in Chulyshman river

The evening promised to be very interesting! We opened a bottle of Abhaz wine, cooked a soup and spent time chatting and thinking about our plans for tomorrow. Including the ascent to the top of the pass.

To be continued…

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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%