If you are not a Kazakh citizen, you need a permit to visit the area in Kazakh Altai close to the border with China and Russia. The main sights inside the border area are, West-Altai reserve near Ridder, on the southern road, Lake Markakol and Kiin Kerish, and on the northern road, Rachmanov springs and Mount Belukha. In the west, the town of Ridder is the start of the border zone since 2017.
The actual permit area starts, in the south, on the other side of Bukhtarma once you get off the ferry in Kurshim, or on the turn-off north from Kogeday east of Zaysan. In the more northern Katon Karagai valley, you only need a permit starting from Uryl.
There is no checkpoint between Kogedai and Kurshim, so if you are going Oskemen – China (without visiting Markakol!) and prefer to take the (better, more interesting) road north of Lake Zaysan, you could risk it without a permit. Your responsibility, of course.
Applying for the permit
- From the start of your application, it takes 10 business days
- Understand that in Altai, there is very little public transport, almost no one speaks English and tourism is in its infancy. You either need to take a tour, or be completely self-sufficient. Read our Altai Guide if you haven’t yet.
- If you don`t want to book anything (hotels, taxis, tours) but have a lot of questions regarding your trip plan, the tour operator can help with a paid consultation. (20$)
- You don`t need a local guide, but you are responsible for following the route that you specified in the application.
- The permit is valid for the dates specified in the application.
- You need to pick it up yourself in Oskemen
- Price is 50$
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All questions are answered in this forum topic.