Each season in Altai has its pluses and flaws. It is not a kind of 'beach vacation' but rather - travelling and adventure. So the weather is not so relevant - you may travel anytime you like. Still, there is a big difference in seasons.
Observation deck at Sinyukha mountain
That is the season of vacations, heat, crowds of tourists, high prices and queues at the museums and sightseeings.
All is working: excursions, routes, beaches, karaoke and disco. You can bathe, sunbathe and have the biggest fun in Altai. Summer in Altai is hot - at any sense
I'll describe each month. They differ.
Waterfall at the Chech-Kysh ravine
It's a month when summer begins but the season of vacations has yet to come. Not so hot, not so crowded. For those who doesn't like lots of people around or heat. The nature is still in blossom, glaciers are only starting to melt, prices aren't so high yet. But ticks are still active, up to the end of June. How do we solve this problem - there is special chapter.
A queue to Patmos island
The hottest month - at any sense - both the weather and amount of people. All is working, everyone's working. Disco, all kinds of attractions, even traffic jams occur sometimes on Chuysky trakt. You may bathe and sunbathe, you may dance all night long and meet new people (standing in a queue). Prices rise, of course - higher and higher every year. Sad, but true.
In August Uchar waterfall gets shallower and allows to get closer
The first half is just the same as in July. During the second part tourist flow is starting to fall down, just as like as the heat. Nights get cooler. The second half of August is really cool for travelling. Mild weather, rivers get brighter, beauty is everywhere; harvest of new vegetables, tourist paths are easier to notice.
Autumn: incredibly splendid, but unpredictable
Kur-Kechu cordon in September
There are fewer people in Altai in autumn. The weather is warm, but not hot. Prices don't fall, but stop rising, at least.
Autumn is very contrasty - both the weather and colors. It may be warm and sunny, may be nasty-snowy-cold. Summer heat and piles of snow may occur within one day.
September may be various: same area, same dates, different years
If it's a good luck the days will be fine, warm, with no heat. It's very beautiful, especially when it all turns yellow. I think, September is one of the best to travel in Altai: dry, warm and uncrowded.
Still, there is a risk - nights get colder, with the temperature below zero. The warmer day, the colder night. Also, there is a possibility of 'occasional winter' - with snow and blizzard for a day or maybe for a week. Couple years ago we got as much snow in September as we couldn't get the following winter.
October: larch turns yellow and Altai looks shrilling golden
October is an in-between month that may be warm and dry, as well as frosty and snowy.
First half of the month may please you with good weather and 'golden' larch (absolutely golden woods). The second half is partly November. It's winter in mountains. The passages covered with snow: someone can go skiing already. Autumn switches its colors from golden yellow into grey and white, with blue and green tones of the rivers.
The biggest plus of that time, I guess, is silence. It is all about quietness, digital detox, rare cars, rare people and walking for hours in sleeping nature. You may go fishing as well - water is crystal clear and grayling is delicious.
The Teletskoye Lake, near to Yaylu village
As well as October, it's an in-between month. November brings winter with its activities. Low season and silence is the reason for touristic flow to rise. True beauty - rivers aren't ice-bounded yet, and snow is everywhere.
Winter: mild, beautiful, uncrowded
Courage on the ice in January
There are few tourists in winter. Daytime is short. Leisure is divided into two parts: daytime activity or a journey and silence in the evening.
A horse ride around Aya village
Any activity connected with snow is possible - skiing, sledging, with Husky dogs, hunting or just walk with snowshoes. In the evening you may experience some Altaic master-class, watch a movie, read a book or sit at the bonfire listening to accordion playing. Also, some sightseeings that you couldn't see in summer become available for observing. These are the ice waterfall or non-freezing lakes.
Waterfall turns into icicles
It is a really brand new experience - to have a ride on Chuysky trakt. It is completely different from what you might see in summer.
Chuysky trakt near to Kurai village
Winter in Altai is a classical Siberian winter, but milder, not so cold as in the plain neighbor regions.
Months are alike, but maybe February differs a bit - you may notice some glimpses of spring. New Year is a special period here - much more tourists, there are all kinds of activity everywhere.
Spring: beauty in blossom
The blossom of maralnik (Siberian Rhododendron) in May
March, in fact, is a winter month in Altai. We go skiing often, but the roads are clean and dry already. The weather is unpredictable - it may be warm and sunny, it may be snowy as in January.
March at the Seminsky Pass
In April days are warm enough but the nature is not awake until the second half of the month. Tourist season starts anyway - with bike tours and excursions. The season of rafting also begins.
End of April on the Chuya river
Then May comes at last. The month of indescribable beauty and sharp contrasts (kind of fantastic!) But sometimes come some freezing nights or 'occasional' winter for couple days. May is the time for the blossom of 'Altaic sakura' - Maralnik, opening of a rafting season, warm weather without stuffiness.
Many photographers come to observe Maralnik's blossom - it looks amazing.
The blossom of Maralnik in May looks terrific
Second half of May is as warm as summer, but not so stuffy and not so crowded.
I enjoy Altai in May.
May is also the month when ticks wake - in the woods and in the grass (our opinion about the best way to solve a problem of a tick's bite).
That's the way it goes. What is the best season so far? If you are disposed to beach leisure, choose summer. If you are interested in some activity and learning something new - come anytime. You can always find some place to observe.
Equesto CEO (FB)
Chapter 2. Best time of the year to go to Altai
If you are going to visit Altai, you probably started with searching for the information in the internet: how, what, where, how much, what are the routes, reservation, sightseeings and tours. That's a huge work and it is time consuming.
Our mailing is a set of several letters full of concentrated and structured information, links to well-tried sights and sources and answers to questions.