The Ukok Plateau: Altai’s Princess at the crossroads of ancient cultures

#Altai #Trekking
average temperatures:
°C in the afternoon,
°C in the night
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The Ukok is a small plateau lost in the very south of The Altai Mountains, at the junction of the borders of Russia, China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan. Given the outstanding natural features of the plateau, in 1994 it received the status of a rest zone, and in 1998 it was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Fund. Numerous natural objects will not leave even the most demanding spectatorunmoved - these include thousands of large and tiny lakes, diverse in shape and color of water,as well as unusually beautiful rivers of different kinds. You will discover the amazing mountain range of Tabyn-Bogdo-Ola, which in translation means - Five Sacred Mountains.
from 1860
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  • Languages: English
  • Avaliable: end of Juni - to the middle of September
  • Duration: 15 days
  • Group: from 5 people
  • Border permits: a special pass to enter the frontier zone shall be made up to 60 days before the trip
  • Accomodation:
  • Group: 5 pax
  • Total transfer: 1355 km
  • Duration: 15 days
What's the plan?
Day 1
Meeting at the airport of Gorno-Altaysk. Travel along the Chuysky tract - once an ancient caravan route connecting Russia and Mongolia. Accommodation at the Rasul Hotel.
Day 2
Transfer to the village of Belyashi (Jazator) on a country road. Accommodation in a guest house. Bath in the evening.
Day 3
Crossing from the village of Jazator through the river Jazator to the Sudobay stream. The road runs through the village of Jazator and takes us to the bridge across the river of the same name. The wide valley of the Jazator River is changed by the valley of the Sudobay stream, sandwiched by the slopes of the mountains. Up ahead tourists’ gazes are rested on beautiful and harsh mountains of the South Chui snowy mountains and their highest peak - Iiktu (3936 m). On the bank of the Sudobay stream we camp and stop for the night.
Day 4
The Sudobay river – the Sudobay pass (non-categorical, 2800 m) – the Kara-Bulak river. We begin the ascent to the Sudobay pass (2800 m). Provided the weather is good, the magnificent panoramic view of the South Chuysky ridge will open on the rise. Having overcome several local rises and wetlands, we head for the pass. From here in the southern direction for the first time a view of the Tabyn-Bogdo-Ola opens, and in the west you can see the snowy peaks of the Chenelu mountain juncture. We halt in a convenient place on the shore.
Day 5
From the middle course of the Kara-Bulak River to the mouth of the Kalgut. We continue the descent along the Kara-Bulak, which flows a few kilometers into the Ak-Alah. We cross the Akkol in turns, on horseback. Soon after we pass a small narrow valley or rather a gorge covered with dense grass. This place has unique powerful vibe and therefore we call it "Valley of Power". After several kilometers, the end point of today's crossing is the mouth of the Kalgut River. It offers an excellent view of the Tabyn-Bogdo-Ola. On the left bank of the river is a Kazakh cemetery of the late 19th century called Ak-Beyty ("White Graves").
Day 6
From the mouth of the Kalgut through Bertek Pisanitsa to the middle course of theKalgut. The main goal of today is to observe the Bertek Pisanitsa. This is the name of the group of petroglyphs located in a small enclosed river valley near our site at the mouth of the Kalgut River. After the observation we go along the path along the Kalgut. On the way we will meet several winter Kazakh camps. We spend the night on the shore of the Kalgut.
Day 7
The middle course of the Kalgut River is a winter camp of Argamji. We continue along the Kalgut. Here, near the Saylyugem ridge, there is another famous archaeological site - two vertically dug up stones, taller than human height. Scientists have not come to a consensus about their age and purpose. After 10 km, the final point of today's crossing is the Argamji winter camp, located on the foothills of the Tabyn-Bogdo-Ola massif. An excellent view of the Five Sacred Peaks opens from above, and this is the closest point to them in our route.
Day 8
The Argamji winter camp - excavation site of the Altai princess. Having come down we go towards Lake Gusinoe. After a few kilometers, we exit to the bridge over the Ak-Alakha. It was here, in one of the "frozen" Pazyryk burial mounds, the mummy of a young woman who lived 2500 years ago was discovered and later got the unofficial name of "the Altai Princess" or "the Princess of the Ukok". We camp overnight.
Day 9
The site of excavation of the Altai Princess - Lake Kaljin Kel. In the morning, we go to the Alakha outpost, where it is necessary to mark our passes, and then we rise to the central part of the plateau, to Lake Kaljin-Köl. The crossing will not take much time, and on the lake we will arrange a half day. Those who wish can try fishing in grayling, have a swim in the river, and in the evening climb to the nearest altitude to enjoy the sunset.
Day 10
Lake Kaljin Kol – the mouth of the Akkol River. Today we cross the central part of the Ukok plateau, closing our ring route. We go along the Kaljin-Kel river to the fording point through the Ak-Alahu. We cross through the Ak-Alahu on horses. After the crossing, we go down 2 km downstream to the mouth of the Akkol and set up camp.
Day 11
From the mouth of the Akkol River to the headwaters of the Bugymuiz River. We rise along the Akkol river valley towards the Bugymuiz pass. There are summer camps of Kazakhs, as well as their herds, mostly consisting of rams and goats. Having had lunch at the mouth of the Bugymuiz River, we rise to its upper reaches, where we set up camp.
Day 12
From the Bugymuiz pass (non-categorical) to the Ildegem river. Surrounded by steppe "Mongolian" landscapes, we climb to the Bugymuiz pass, (non-categorical) 2843 m. Climbing the pass is not difficult. If we are lucky with the weather, we will admire the vistas of the South Chui ridge, the Chenelyu massif, take a farewell look at the Tabyn-Bogdo-Ola and begin the descent. We spend the night in the forest zone on the Ildegem River.
Day 13
The Ildegem River - the village of Jazator. In the morning we go down the road to the shallow point across the Jazator River and take turns on horseback to the right bank. There we are waiting for the UAZ car, on which we drive the rest of the way to the village of Jazator. We have a gala dinner here, and a bath will for us. In case of early arrival, it is also possible to organize a trip to explore the Karagemsky breach on the Argut River (optional, paid extra on the spot).
Day 14
Transfer from Jazator to Kosh Agach. Transfer to Gorno-Altaysk after that.
Day 15
Transfer to the airport of Gorno-Altaysk.
Included / Not included