I've been dreaming about a trip to Mountain Altai for so long. My husband used to tell me like: “Haven't you ever seen the mountains?” (We live in Switzerland). Yeah, I know the Swiss Alps enough. Still, I had a desire to have a look at the Altai mountains – they are being compared with the Swiss Alps quite often.
And now that I have made that trip I'll keep telling that no one should be comparing Altai with the Alps – these are two different Universes. The Alps occupy the four time less area than the Altai mountains, though the highest peak of Altai (Belukha – 4509 m) is lower than the highest peak of the Alps (Mont Blanc – 4810 m). The territory of the Alps is inhabited, it is a tourist 'Mecca', there are elevators all around; all the routes are sorted out by the categories and provided with steps and ropes along the mountain wall; when you reach the top of a mountain you can find a restaurant there. Even at the glaciers and some other hard-to-get places you can find 'hutte' – mountain shelters, where you can stay overnight, dry your clothes and boots and have a really good meal. The food is delivered by helicopter – the same way as the rubbish is being removed.
Altai is wilderness, slightly touched by people. There is so little space for animals in the Alps. Some separate wolves and bears are being watched and in some case (such as eating a sheep by a wolf or a bear appearing somewhere) being killed right away. I could hardly believe that in Altai someone could notice those sheep eaten. I got surprised by the endless valleys and countless herds of cows, sheep, horses and buffalo (not sure about their name) and by the powerful rough rivers. The further we were moving to the south on Chuysky trakt, the more magnificent landscapes we observed.
We got some special impressions during the ascents to the hills of the Kurai Steppe and to the Seminsky pass.
We didn't have any problems with meals, though we are vegetarians (pescetarians, in fact – eating fish).
Hotels we stayed at were quite good. We liked the 'Igman' hotel in Gorno-Altaysk very much. The hotel with a swimming pool in the middle of restaurant in Ongudai is very creative – as well as senseless. We spent night at a new-built khan. That is OK for one night.
The tour through Altai gave us a real pleasure and took a lot of impressions and gifts with us. Now we know what we would like to visit during our next journey.
Thanks a lot to the team of Equesto – we wish you prosperity!