Nestled in the foothills of the Altai mountains on the Kazakh-Russian border, this village is easily accessible from Ridder and makes a good base to explore both the nature and culture of this little corner of Siberia. Join in the quiet farmer’s existence or visit the West Altai Nature Reserve and the surrounding mountains.
Go berry-hunting and mushroom-picking, eat your belly round with homemade delights and finish off the day in a steamy banya.
Things to do
Poperechnoe is a really good place to simply, relax. Eat enormous amounts of homemade food 3 times per day, spend a lot of time in bed with the wood stove burning, walk around the village, play with the children and have a chat with the horses, the cows and the locals.
You can admire the architecture of wooden izbooshkas over a century old, and find lots of old tools for farming and homemaking inside. Pigs run around in the field and nearly the entire population is of ethnic Russian (Old Believer) descent.
For all intents and purposes, you are already in Russia.
Once you have sufficiently enjoyed doing nothing of consequence, you might want to flex your muscles. Go berry-picking and mushroom-hunting in the taiga, fish or photo-hunt for animals. As soon as you leave the village fields, the taiga starts, so you can be home for dinner.
The hike to Radon Lake is easy enough. It is about 6 hours one-way. Overnight at the beautiful lake and come back the next day, or continue up the Red Saddle and into the surrounding mountains, or just hang out another day at the lake – it is splendid.
West Altai Nature Reserve
The West Altai Nature Reserve is definitely worth a visit for nature lovers, but you are not as free here as elsewhere. You no longer need a permit, but you still need to pay an entrance fee and be accompanied by a guide.
A yearly folk festival takes place somewhere in summer. Locals dress up in traditional garb, sing folk songs and eat shashlik. Good fun if you happen to be around.
Transport and communication
The bus from Ridder to Poperechnoe runs every Tuesday and Friday. Otherwise, try to hitch a ride with locals. The road is potholed but you do not need a 4WD if you are driving yourself.
Some mobile reception is available and a few households have basic internet. Beeline is the best sim card for Altai in general, but do not rely on having a mobile connection once you leave Ridder.
You can stay in a homestay in Poperechnoe with (very) full board, your own simple, cosy village room and plenty of heating. Get in touch with Valeriya to arrange your stay.
Other accommodation nearby
In case Poperechnoe somehow does not appeal to you, you can check out the following accommodation options nearby.
A bit further on the road, past the turn-off to Poperechnoe, lies a mountain base for trekkers and skiers called Seriy Lyuk (Grey Onion). Mistress Natalia is a biologist, alpinist and cyclist happy to live in the wild.
The place consists of simple wooden huts with beds and a stove. This is DIY living: you are on your own here. Prepare all your own food and be ready to strike off by yourself. The price is negligible: 5000 tenge for a hut which can contain 5 people.
A rather fancy hotel with horse riding facilities and a higher service level is a bit further still. As a foreigner, it’s unlikely you would come all this way for this. Klimovka exists mostly for locals. Prices start at 25000 tenge for a room.
Besides the homestays there is plenty of room in nature to camp out and hike into the taiga or the mountains. If you have your own gear, you can camp everywhere, except in the West Altai Nature Reserve.
Be aware the area gets a lot more rainfall than average in Kazakhstan, and bears roam.