Greater Altai (Алтай), bordering on Kazakhstan, China and Mongolia, consists of the Altai Territory and the Altai Republic. The Altai Territory, while pleasant enough, is most noteworthy as a gateway to the wonders of the unforgettable Altai Republic. This sprawling and sparsely populated region is home to over 7000 lakes, snow-capped mountains – including Siberia’s highest peak (Mt Belukha, 4506m), shadowy forests, gurgling rivers, bears, wolves and even the ghost-like snow leopard. There are fabulous opportunities for hiking and mountain exploration, but often only for those organised enough to arrange the necessary permits two months in advance. The Altai Republic has long been regarded as an area of spiritual and occult significance, and Russian philosopher and painter Nikolai Rerikh (Nicholas Roerich) visited the region in the early 20th century in an attempt to locate the entrance to Shambala, the mythical enlightened land of Tibetan Buddhism. He failed, but you might not…
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Altai.