Altai Republic

For other places with the same name, see Altai (disambiguation).

Altai (Russian: Респу́блика Алта́й rees-POOB-leek-uh uhl-TIGH) is a republic Western Siberia, which has an amazing variety of landscapes: from boundless steppes to impassable taiga forests.

Understand

Mt Belukha, the highest peak of Altai Mountains, on the border with Kazakhstan

The people of this republic are mainly ethnic Altais, a Turkic ethnicity. The following a wide variety of religions including Russian Orthodoxy, Shamanism and Buddhism. Thus, this region is Russia's most religiously diverse.

The Altai Mountains are the highest in Siberia. The Altai Republic and nearby Altai Krai were very popular hunting, fishing and adventure tourist sites during Soviet times. The region is popular for rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, horse riding, fishing and hunting.

The modern Altai economy is based largely upon agriculture, but nowadays the tourism industry has undergone an exponential growth. Despite the rapid growth of tourism, the region is one of the poorest and most underdeveloped places in Russia.

Regions

North

Center

South

Katun River

Cities

Other major towns:

Campsites

So far there are three big congregations of private campsites, rest bases and guesthouses, majority of them in the north, where the climate is warmer:

To get there tourists buy tours in big cities or call to the owners beforehand and then arrive. One can try their luck and certainly will find a stay on the spot.

Other destinations

Golden Mountains of Altai
Lake Kucherla

Talk

The Altai are a Turkic ethnic group closely related to Kazakhs and speak their own language of Altai. Altai and Kazakh are the official languages, along with Russian, of the Altai Republic. However, Russian is spoken nearly universally.

Get in

Altai Republic has no railway and only one mid-sized airport in Gorno-Altaisk. The best way is to get marshrutka or bus from Biysk or Barnaul. Taxi from Biysk is quite cheap too.

Get around

Marshrutka is the most common way of public travel there. It is a type of taxi, which goes once it gets full. Hitchhiking is quite common too. Sometimes you can stop even a child on a horse.

See

Border between Altai Republic and Altai Krai

Eat

Eat at cafes, which are cheap and quite good. Cafes are common all around Russia, even in small villages.

Stay safe

Stay healthy

Tap water is considered unsafe for drinking, and should be avoided. Being one of Russia's poorest regions, only 60% of the area's population has access to safe drinking water. Sanitize all water, and drink only water that is bottled.

Hospitals are well equipped and the staff are well trained, but good quality health care in Altai is virtually non-existent. Most of the hospitals are equipped with neglected technology, and serious operations are seemingly impossible to do here.

Go next

Cross the border into Mongolia and visit Bayan-Ulgii Province. The capital, Ölgii, has a large Kazakh population living much the same way they did 100 years ago. Also visit Altai Tavan Bogd National Park and Tsambagarav National Park to enjoy large snow-capped mountains, petroglyphs, Turkic Stone Men, and Kazakh Eagle Hunters.

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