Chapter 5. Activity in Altai

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Before we go to details concerning hotels, transfer, hikes with tents, journeys with children, renting a car and so on, let's see what Altai prepared exactly for you.

In our opinion, Altai is a better place to go for active people, researchers and travelers. Still, there all the opportunities for beach leisure.

Active

What should we start with? Maybe with bike tour - on Chuysky or Chemal trakt: pleasant load for all your muscles and feelings. It is not a observing excursion during a bus tour — you can always make a stop and admire listening to river's noise or feeling a smell of flowers.

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You should try rafting or kayaking down the Katun or the Chuya river. It is a special type of leisure - wet, physically hard, not an excursion, but exciting.

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It is a good idea to pick a horse tour. It resembles bike tour, but you don't have to pedal and you are able to ride around an area without road.

Moreover, you will have a full contact with these amazing animals, not like 'have a ride and give it back to horseman'. You'll be able to wash, to brush and to feed your horse. Some say, it is a kind of therapy.

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A true adventurer would appreciate a hike — to Belukha Mountain or to the Karakol Lakes: no people, no telephone, no Internet - just you and the nature.

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In winter you can master ski slopes.

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Half-active

Check in a hotel and do whatever you want. Try a horse ride, for example.

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Or make an ATV ride.

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Raft or kayak down a river if it is near to your hotel.

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It is going to be really beautiful to make a boat trip on the Teletskoye Lake (if you are not so far). It is wide and long. There are many waterfalls around.

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Devote couple days to visiting museums or monuments if there are any in your hotel's neighborhood. It will not be the Hermitage or the Louvre, but it is surely an interesting thing to do for a couple hours.

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Or just walk around and admire views.

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Completely relaxed

Do you  prefer no activity at all? It is possible too. Join a bus tour.

Some might think, 'Altai is nothing but 'mountains and wild nature'. But it is a stamp. Bus tours are so popular because there are a lot places and things to observe. Altai is a visual wonder.

Moreover, it is the best way to observe nearly whole Altai - nature and sightseeings - for a week or two.

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How to get complete travel experience from Altai within one journey?

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A photographer on the Chike-Taman Pass

Let's explore the most popular scenario for those coming to Altai for the first and only time, not for a long time.

The majority of tourists go that way. The reason is clear: too far, so expensive. There are a lot of places to go in the rest of the world. So people come here to get maximal number of impressions. They spend way more and stay longer to watch and visit as much as possible. They don't want to spend money for plane tickets several times.

How it can be done nowadays?

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Rams: basis of Altai farming

It could be a independent journey or arranged by a tour operators.
About pros and cons of car rent I'll tell you a bit later. Many tour operators offer trips, kind of 'Golden ring of Altai with maximal coverage'.

But there's a problem - it is only geographical coverage

Altai is really big, it's a journey for thousands kilometers to observe it all. So tourists desire to visit every place they can. And get nothing but... 'quick looks' of: views, beauty, roads and villages: the most interesting things of Altai are hidden from tourists' eyes and ears. Why? Because Altai is many-sided, and its culture does't expose itself easily.

What does travel experience consist of?

Geography

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The Katun's valley: this sector of the road (on the left) used to be really hard to drive through - only by ferryboat.

The best way to open up Altai is travelling: to different areas, heights, climatic zones, landscapes. It is good to spend a week in a hotel but it is pointless to go to Altai for that: too expensive. You need to move somewhere, you need visit some places. The more, the better: by car, on the raft, on the bike, on the horse or on foot.

Having time limitations we need to realize - we won't go too deep to the wilds. So if you would like to go to Belukha or to the Ukok, add a week to your journey. Or plan a separate travelling.

Ethnography

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Present day: Ust-Kan village

Watch and learn how do people live in Altai nowadays. How do they survive. How does living in the mountains influence the mode of live? How do new trends mix with archaic things? How is it like to use an iphone in the 'outside conveniences'? How to graze the cattle on a motorbike? How to steal the girl you like if she added you to the blacklist in a social network? A mixture of old and new, traditional and contemporary. It is not so easy to see all that but it is worth introspecting.

Activities

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A winter walk at the Teletskoye Lake

Initially, Altai has been developing as a place for active tourism, not for beach leisure. There all kinds of activity: hiking in the mountains, rafting down the river, riding bike, horse or ATV and jeep tours. It is worth having such experience. Even if you don't like physical load that much, there is always an activity to your taste.

Sightseeings

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Kur-Kure waterfall

Hardest thing is to start, because there are thousands of them. Each place of interest has its history, special symbolism and unique look.

Food

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Meat snack

Food in Altai? It is represented by national cuisine, Russian cuisine, roadside belyashi (small meat pies) and restaurants of the modern Siberian cuisine. Food is an important part of the travel experience in Altai. It is not always to everyone taste, but even bad gastronomic experience is a part of the whole set of impressions.

Digital detox

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Pazyryk mounds, about 2500 years old. Being there leads to a feeling of nothingness, meaninglessness of many problems and futility of being.


Altai gives a huge opportunity to free one's mind and psyche. If your job is stressful, connected with online, here is the best place to get unplugged: due to weak connection or adrenaline or a great view. You may bathe in the ice cold waterfalls, walk barefoot on the grass, caress the animals, sit near a bonfire, drink water from springs, lie on the warm asphalt staring at the stars or take a dip in the ice cold river straight from a bathhouse. If in our everyday life not all of our senses are completely engaged, in Altai there is a good chance to unplug them from all the gadgets and use according to their purpose.

Achievements

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Way across the river to Uchar waterfall

To come to Altai for many people is already achievement. But that is only beginning, furthermore: to climb a mountain, to try some rapids on a raft, to cover a big distance on a car, to ride a horse, eat something new. Everyone sets his own level, but there is always a sphere where you can try your hand in - to check your abilities, to get better than you were in the morning. It gives a pleasant satisfying feeling - 'I did it'.

People

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Breakfast in a hike. Yesterday's strangers having a good time together

Everyone is interesting. The locals in their natural surroundings: guides, drivers and population. Not locals in the unusual surroundings: tourist in a group, occasional travelers, your friends that came with you. 
People are the sourсe of new experience and impressions. New people from other cities bring their stories and experience. Someone that you might know well opens up anew in unusual conditions. As for the locals, that's a kind of unpredictable experience: not always positive, but interesting.
I have a lot of stories about people. During the tours we can see how they make friendship or relationships, how they influence each other with their stories. A kind of sad moment for us - we loose our guides, because some of them get married with the tourists and go away.


There are some more important moments for getting complete travel experience. They are individual, because perception of something bases on one's own previous experience, abilities of the body and psyche.



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I do a lot of travelling around the country and around the world by myself. I use guidebooks, Wikipedia and just walk wherever I want. Sometimes I feel with my own skin the difference when you get a great deal more information from the same sights. It happens if I don't just see a sight, but someone shows and tells about that. Here is an example.

Couple years ago I came to Georgia. I watched as much as could. I really liked it all and got interested.
Next year I came there again. That time I was accompanied by a friend of mine, He is a guide in Georgia. I got so much more impressions from the same sights that I got speechless. I was told why there are rooms for tourists only on the ground floor, why do they dry linens in the street, also I saw the most futuristic MacDonald's ever, tried the most delicious khinkali. I got an explanation of how to drive a car properly and why women are considered guilty in every single accident. What should I do during a snowfall. There is one airport for two countries and more and more.
Geographically it was the same route, but I saw it from another angle. I am not sure that I got a complete Georgian travel experience, but I definitely touched to it.

Alexey Kiryanov,
Equesto CEO (FB)


Content


Chapter 1. Why Altai and what's its zest?

Chapter 2. Best time of the year to go to Altai

Chapter 3. Best solutions how to get to Altai

Chapter 4. Taking off our rose-colored glasses: antidote against 'all-is-good' ads

Chapter 5. Activity in Altai

Chapter 6. Touristic bases, hotels and campsites of Altai

Chapter 7. Hikes with tents

Chapter 8. The ancient Altai and history

Chapter 9. Important questions got answered

Chapter 10. Prices in Altai

Chapter 11. Altaian tour selection guide

Chapter 12. Goods of Altai

Chapter 13. What do people say after visiting Altai?

Chapter 14. The examples of independent travels in Altai

Chapter 15. Organizing a tour

Chapter 16. Bike tours in Altai

Mailing for the first time comers to Altai

9 - Edited (2).pngIf 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.

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