Logistics for visiting the Altai Mountains

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freya
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Logistics for visiting the Altai Mountains

Postby freya » Tue Jun 13, 2017 2:04 am

Hey everyone,

I have read through all the information on here about the Altai Mountains and they sound absolutely stunning but I am not really sure where to start with the logistics.
My partner and I have about a month in Kazakhstan with the possibility to come back later in the year so I am thinking we could allocate about 10 days to 2 weeks to the Altais.

1. What is the best way to get around the area? I can see there is a bus from Ust-Kamenogorsk to Ridder but it seems like there's not much transport anywhere else. I don't intend on hiring a car so is it best to do it as part of a tour or hire a guide with transportation or is there a way to do it independently?
2. Is 10 days to 2 weeks a good amount of time? I would love to see the Lake Marakol area and definitely the foothills around Mount Belukha - interested in lots of hiking and mountains, beautiful photography spots and also some place to relaxing to enjoy the scenery. In this timeframe how would you suggest dividing up the time?
3. In the Berel/Mt Belukha area would you recommend a multi-day hike or to choose a base and do day hikes instead? Aside from Rachmanov Springs are there any other accommodation options here? We are still deliberating whether to bring the camping equipment or not.
4. Depending on the above responses, if I do need to book a tour/guide/specific accommodation, should I do this in advance or is it easier to organise on arrival in Ust-Kamenogorsk? We will be there around the end of the July.

The whole area looks like a brilliant place to explore, I just want to be a little prepared before I get there.

Thanks for your help!
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steven
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Re: Logistics for visiting the Altai Mountains

Postby steven » Wed Jun 14, 2017 11:30 am

1. There really is little point in trying to get around by public transport imo. You need your own transport or hire someone who can drive you around.

2. It's tight. The bridge on the Austrian road connecting Katon Karagai to Markakol is still broken. Meaning you have to go all the way back to Ust-K. So it's 1 full day drive to Markakol (+1 day back), and another full day drive to get to Uryl and beyond (and 1 day back). So that is already 4 days of driving.

3. Bring camping equipment. Watch out for bears! There are other homestays but I haven't been there yet.

4. Do it in advance. Tourism is undeveloped. People don't speak English, don't understand what you want, don't really want to share their place with foreigners etc. It takes a bit of time to get what you want.

5. I have to rewrite these articles a bit I noticed. People write us but they all come away from reading this articles with the idea that Altai is easy and you just go there and you figure it out. Instead, it requires a lot of time (or money), some expedition experience, and it really helps if you speak Russian.

That's what makes it such a nice and special place, it's difficult and few people make it. So be prepared!
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freya
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Re: Logistics for visiting the Altai Mountains

Postby freya » Thu Jun 15, 2017 7:49 am

Thanks a lot for your reply Steven. Very helpful indeed.

I didn't expect it to be easy, I just wanted to know what level of difficulty I was getting myself into. I have also started learning Russian which should come in handy.

For a guide with transport from Ust-K, is there a company/someone you could recommend?

Cheers!
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Re: Logistics for visiting the Altai Mountains

Postby steven » Fri Jun 16, 2017 7:18 am

Yes, I recommend Valeriya. She is still learning, but she is very dedicated and perfectionist. After 1 month last year in Altai, meeting all the tour operators, she was the only one who was really willing to work. So Saule is teaching her what Westerners want.

http://caravanistan.com/tour_operator/valeriya/
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Re: Logistics for visiting the Altai Mountains

Postby freya » Fri Jun 16, 2017 9:13 am

Excellent! Thanks for your help. Really appreciate it!
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Re: Logistics for visiting the Altai Mountains

Postby steven » Sat Jun 17, 2017 1:53 pm

I appreciate you are interested in making the effort to go there!

Sometimes I get a bit blase or cynical on this forum, but I was recently reminded once again about what an extraordinary company I keep. Whatever happens, enjoy the trip!
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Re: Logistics for visiting the Altai Mountains

Postby dcor30 » Sun Jul 09, 2017 8:12 pm

Hi Steven,
We are spending 3 weeks in KZ this August; I want to go with my wife and 2 kids (3 and 4 y. old) from Almaty to Lake Markakol and Kiin Kirish canyon this August 2017 in a rented car (not 4x4). I want to ask a few questions.
1.Permit: can i get it in Almaty? or I have to go to Oskemen?
2.Are the roads decent to get to those places with a 'normal car' or only a 4x4 will make it?
3.We are planning to get to the lake from the south(via Zaysan) are the roads open to arrive to Lake Markakol? (I read you mention many problems coming from the north).
4. We are planning to camp everywhere, is that a possibility?(we are proficient campers)

Thank you very much for all future advice !!
Javier Gordon
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steven
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Re: Logistics for visiting the Altai Mountains

Postby steven » Mon Jul 10, 2017 1:07 pm

1, Permit: you can apply online. You have to pick it up in Oskemen, though. Maybe they can scan it and you can print it? That's another option.
2. Kiin Kerish: only 4WD, dangerous if it rained as well to get stuck. Also easy to get lost there so I imagine you know what you are doing, otherwise you need a guide there. Markakol is possible with a sedan.
3. Yes, south is the way to go. North the bridge is broken (and 4WD only)
4. Camping is the best way to do it.

Good luck and enjoy! I will be in Altai myself over the coming weeks without much internet access, so you will have to figure out the rest yourself until that time. :-) Don't worry, we are not geniuses or madcap travelers and we managed, so it is all possible, if you are open for a bit of adventure.
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Re: Logistics for visiting the Altai Mountains

Postby dcor30 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 7:00 pm

Dear Steven,
Thank you for taking your time to reply to me.
unfortunately, a couple of car hire companies told me i can only go only as far as Alakol lake with their hired car
'due to the state of the roads'(!!).
so back to square one for me !
enjoy your trip !!
Javier
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DanielHam
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Re: Logistics for visiting the Altai Mountains

Postby DanielHam » Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:27 pm

dcor30 wrote:Dear Steven,
Thank you for taking your time to reply to me.
unfortunately, some testomax reviews of car hire companies told me i can only go only as far as Alakol lake with their hired car
'due to the state of the roads'(!!).
so back to square one for me !
enjoy your trip !!
Javier


Yep, the roads do get quite shoddy past that point.
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