Updated: Jan 11
The geographical center of Eurasia and a sacred place for generations of Siberians.
The Altai Mountains are located in southern Siberia, in the Altai Republic, Russia. This mountain chain encompasses many sacred places and has an almost ideal ecologic state, so many people would call it “Russian Switzerland.”
White-crowned mountains, sparkling lakes, frothing waterfalls, and wide meadows.
Altai is perfectly suitable for adventure tourism such as river rafting or climbing, in particular. You can also go on a hike or take a horseback riding tour, to be able to see the most remote areas. Another great thing to do there is fishing: the local rivers are rich in fishes such as grayling, sturgeon, rainbow trout and many more.
With as many landmarks as Altai has to offer, it might be hard to plan a trip on your own. Local travel agencies, such as Altai Touristic, can offer you a variety of tours and are often cheaper to book with than international companies.
Image by Sergei Wingman
Altai is also famous for its healing thermal vents. One of the most popular balneological resorts is Belokurikha, featuring its own microclimate. The resort is opened for travelers throughout the year and is perfect if you want to take a break: there are multiple sanitariums for every budget and taste, restaurants, a zoo, racecourse, a horse farm, museums and much more.
Another thing Altai is known for is red deers.
Since a long time ago, locals have been using their velvet antlers to produce medications.
Best time to visit the Altai Mountains.
Most travelers visit Altai in summer to be able to enjoy rafting, hike and boat. Altai is famous for its daylight which can last for 17 hours, longer than even in seaside cities like Sochi. Temperatures increase up to 13°C through June to August, which might be the best time to visit the mountains. At night it can drop to 5°C, so don’t forget to take a few layers just in case. Winter lasts for long five months but is milder than in many other Siberian regions, as the temperature rarely falls below -17°C. In winter, you can visit one of the numerous Altai ski resorts such as Manzherok, Katun, Pereval Seminskiy and more.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
-17.8° -16.1° -9.2° -0.5° 7°C 12.2° 13.8° 12.3° 6.7° -1.2° -10.5° -15.3°
Things to see around the Altai Mountains.
Lake Teletskoye is one of the main attractions of the Altai mountains. It is almost 80 kilometers long, surrounded by beautiful landscaping and waterfalls.
Katun. The river is almost 700 km, rising from a glacier. Katun is particularly famous for its change of color throughout the year: in spring and summer it becomes muddy, getting milky-white color, which changes to
Ukok Plateau. The plateau is a habitat for many of the world's endangered species including the snow leopard and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is well-known for numerous burial mounds, as throughout centuries locals believed it to be a sacred place. Ukok Plateau also became a source of inspiration to the famous painter Nicholas Roerich for many of his works.
Chemal is a settlement by the Katun riverbank. It has a lot of sunshine throughout the year and a special microclimate that has a favorable effect on human health. The village has a lot of sights in the surroundings, including the hydroelectric power station.
Karakolsky lakes. These are seven small lakes, lying at a different altitude and interconnected by channels. It is a very picturesque place, and many tourists camp in the area.
Belukha Mountain. It is the highest peak of the Altai Mountains and Siberia, rising to 4,509 meters. Belukha is the geographical center of Eurasia, located at the exact equal distance from four oceans.