Golden mountains of Altai – UNESCO Heritage site #2

Kaart 004-2Altai Natural Reserve

This remote pristine wilderness borders China with some of the most beautiful landscapes on earth. This has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site consisting of the Altai and Katun Natural Reserves, Lake Teletskoye, Belukha Mountain, and the Ukok Plateau. This is the home of the Saker falcons and snow leopards as well as 700 species of plants, 51 mammals, 14 Ukok Plateau0 of birds, three types of reptiles and eight fish species. The plateau is critical in stabilizing the climate, is a key Central Asian watershed, is a home to populations of endangered species, and is spiritually important to Altai indigenous groups.

Teletskoye-lake-AltaiLake Teletskoye, Altai

Lake Teletskoye is a narrow long mountain lake in the form of an L. By depth it is the 5th or 6th in the world. It has a lot of tributaries the biggest of the Chulyshman, and only one outlet, the river Biya. The road from the north leads till Artybash and Yogach, two villages at the northwest end of the lake. All other settlements on it’s shore can only be reached across the lake, by boats in summer and walking or riding across the ice in winter. In summer about once a week a barge crosses the lake and supplies the settlements along the shore and in the Chulyshman-valley with fuel and other goods.

People along the lake live mainly on hunting and fishing. The lake is rich in fish and the surrounding mountains (the highest of which is Teletskii with 2500 m) are the home of many eatable or fur-providing animals: Deers, roes, elks and “marals”, a central Asian kind of deer, moreover bears, sables, minks, and – very seldom – the “arkhar”, a kind of ibex, and the snow leopard.

Siberian Ibex
Snow Leopard








Ukok Plateau is a remote and pristine grasslands area in the heart of southwestern Siberia, the Altai Mountains region of Russia near the borders with China, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. Pazyryk is the name given by modern scholars to an ancient people who lived in the Altai Mountains on this plateau who are associated with some spectacular archeological findings, including mummies found frozen in the permafrost. Many ancient Bronze Age tomb mounds have been found in the area and have been associated with the Pazyryk culture which closely resembled that of the legendary Scythian people to the west. One famous finding is known as the Ice Maiden, excavated by Russian archaeologist, Natalia Polosmak.

Standing stones of the Altai

Belukha Mountain, in the Katun Mountains, is the highest peak of the Altay Mountains in Russia. It is part of the World Heritage Site entitled Golden Mountains of Altai. Belukha is a twin-peaked mountain massif that rises along the border of Russia and Kazakhstan. Of the two peaks, the eastern peak (4,506 m, 14,784 ft.) is higher than the western peak (4,440 m, 14,567 ft.).

belukha_005 2
Katun Mountains

Presently, the Altai Republic is referred to the regions, where traditional culture of indigenous population – the Altaians, Russian old-believers, the Kazakhs compactly living here for over 100 years may be observed in full blossom. Traditional holidays and games, in all their grandeur presenting the archaics and our times, cannot but deeply impress modern people, especially townsmen – one may imagine it is a different world, a different space and time dimension.Ethnographic study of the region has begun rather long ago – over 200 years ago. However, there is still something to be discovered.

Altay nomads
Nomads of the Altai


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