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Introducing Gorno-altaisk

Gorno-Altaisk, the capital of the Altai Republic, is a narrow ribbon of Soviet concrete blandness scarring an otherwise attractive valley. From Mayma on the M52, Gorno-Altaisk's main street, Kommunistichesky pr, winds on for 7km before reaching central pl Lenina.

Before heading elsewhere in the Altai Republic you should register your visa at the MVD Office (62012; top fl, Kommunistichesky pr 95; 9am-1pm Mon-Wed & Fri). It's beside the Gorny Shopping Centre, 500m east of the market, bus stop Zhilmassiv. Enter via the central door-stairs. Importantly you'll need a khodataystsvo - a letter from whoever sponsored your visa, listing where in Altai you'll be visiting. Get this before departing as having your sponsors fax it to Gorno-Altaisk can cause days of delays and annoyance. With the letter, registration takes only 15 minutes assuming you can figure out the Russian forms. If you list Aktash or Kosh-Agach as destinations the necessary border-zone permits are automatically issued.