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Altai Republic

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

Altai Republic
Altai Republic in Russia.svg
Flag of Altai Republic.svg
Quick Facts
Capital Gorno-Altaysk
Government Russian republic
Currency Russian ruble (RUB)
Area 92,600km²
Population 206,168
Language Russian, Altay
Religion Russian Orthodox 27.6%, Non-Religious Spirituality 25%, Athiest 14%, Other 20.4%
Electricity 220V, 50Hz (European plug)
Time Zone UTC+6
Mt Belukha, the highest peak of Altai Mountains, on the border with Kazakhstan

Altai (Russian: Респу́блика Алта́й rees-POOB-leek-uh uhl-TIGH) [1] is a republic in Western Siberia, which has an amazing variety of landscapes: from boundless steppes to impassable taiga forests.


The population of 218,063 (as of 2018) is mainly ethnic Russians (56.6%) and Altais (34.5%), a Turkic group. The population follows a wide range of religions, such as Russian Orthodoxy, Shamanism, Buddhism, and Hinduism; it is one of Russia's most religiously diverse regions.

The modern Altai economy is based largely upon agriculture, but nowadays the tourism industry has undergone much growth. 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.

Despite the rapid growth of tourism, the region is one of the poorest and most underdeveloped places of Russia; its HDI (0.777) is third lowest among all Russian federal subjects.



  • Gorno-Altaisk, Ust-Kan, Shebalino, Chemal, Choya, Turochak


  • Onguday, Ust-Ulagan


Katun River
  • Ust-Koksa, Kosh-Agach


Altai Republic has no more towns; the major villages are as follows:


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:

  • Northern shores of Teletskoye lake close to Iogach and Artybash villages.
  • Complex of campsites along the Katun river, known as 'Biryuzovaya Katun', Бирюзовая Катунь, all accessible from Chuysky Highway, which runs parallel to the river.
  • Riverside campsites continue south with tributary Chemal and are mostly concentrated in Chemal village.

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. In the 2010s, nearly any village on Chuysky Trakt got a camping or tourist base, so it's relatively easy to find a place to stay overnight if you travel by that route. It's best to call in advance if you travel to the more remote areas.

Other destinations[edit]

Lake Kucherla
  • Golden Mountains of Altai — UNESCO World Heritage Site
    • Altaisky Nature Reserve
    • Katunsky Nature Reserve
    • Teletskoye Lake
  • Lake Aya
  • Lake Manzherok
  • 77km away from the capital at the village Kamlak there is the Gorno-Altaisk Botanical Garden situated on the unique natural corner Shishkular-Katail-Chisty lug (Шишкулар-Катаил-Чистый луг). It is a department of Russian Academy of Science and a curious place to visit. The collected plants range 1535 species from Altai, Siberia, Far East and even North America. [2]


The Altai are a Turkic ethnic group closely related to the Khakas and Tuvans (and more distantly to the Yakuts, Kazakh, and Kyrgyz), and they speak the Altai language. Russian is spoken nearly universally, but it may be hard to find a Russian-speaking Altai in remote areas like Chulyshman valley. The Kazakh language is also prevalent is some villages.

Get in[edit]

The easiest way to get to Altai Republic is to take a direct flight from Moscow to Gorno-Altaisk. There are regular flights two times a week. The town can also be reached from Biysk, Barnaul or Novosibirsk by bus or "marshrutka". Taxi from Biysk is quite cheap too.

Get around[edit]

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

See[edit][add listing]

Border between Altai Republic and Altai Krai
  • KM723-732 from Novosibirsk: A series of ancient (10,000BC) rock paintings and carvings can be seen on the main road bypassing through Altai Republic.


Do[edit][add listing]

Altai mountains area is the place for adventure travel:

  • Road trip. The main road for a road trip in Altai is the Chuya highway (is one of the most beautiful roads of the world (according to National Geographic)). The picturesque part of the road starts from Gorno-Altaisk city and goes to the border of Mongolia. There are many amazing places locate along this road (multicolor mountain of the Kyzyl-Chin, named Martian, Geizer lake, The confluence of Chuya and Katun rivers). The most famous road trip tour in Altai mountain is "6 sights of Altai". It's the only option for comfort travel in Altai. Other tours in Altai offers only with not comfortable accommodation.
  • Rafting. The Katun River is the main river of Altai. The Katun river and its tributaries are the most attractive for rafting in Russia. The middle Katun is the most popular part of adventure tourism on the water in Russia because of the variety of rapids and picturesque of nature.

Here are presented 1st-6th classes rapids (according to white water rafting system). For the multi-day rafting usually, choose the tour "Rafting the Middle Katun".

  • Climbing. The most famous mountain for climbing in Altai is the Belukha mountain. Keep in mind, that foreigners have to get special permission for climbing this mountain.
  • Trekking. There are many options for trekking routes in Altai mountain. Some of the routes required special permission for visiting.
  • Equestrian tour. There are many options for horseback riding tours in Altai, but the most famous one is to the Belukha mountain.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Eat at kafes, it is cheap and quite good. Kafes can are easily be found in Gorno-Altaysk, Mayma and more "civilized" Сhemalskiy region. However there are few if any in other regions.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Stay safe[edit]

  • Be aware of ticks, mainly in summer (especially in May-June). Vaccination agains tick-borne encephalitis is not mandatory for travelling but strongly recommended!
  • The region is prone to earth-quakes.

Stay healthy[edit]

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

The central republican hospital is located in Gorno-Altaisk and is well equipped. Regional hospitals are located in the biggest villages and possess basic diagnostic facilities.

Get out[edit]

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