The program includes visits to the most interesting historical sites and monuments of Ust-Kamenogorsk, the walk through the forest reserves, hiking the slopes of the Western Altai Mountains and a trip to the Yazevoe Lake and Burkhan pass to observe magical Mount Belukha.
You will be introduced to the history of East Kazakhstan settlement by the Old Believers and have the opportunity to explore their life and traditions. You will also get a chance to visit Poperechnoye and Korobiha villages based in the XVIII century.
You will be a guest in a typical peasant house with traditional Russian banya (sauna), garden, horses, cows, chickens and cats. All ingredients used by the hosts to cook a meal for yourself and guests are natural farm products. They grow vegetables in their own garden, get milk from the cows they raise on their farm and bake fresh bread themselves.
Day 1. Arrival to Ust-Kamenogorsk and Hotel check-in
Lunch (at your expense) and rest.
17:00 Meeting with the guide in the hotel lobby.
17:30 – 19:30 We will start our program with a sightseeing tour through the old town. If you want to feel the vibes of Ust-Kamenogorsk and fall in love with this city, you need to take a stroll through its streets and squares, spend some time in silence standing in front of the temples, whose golden domes against the blue sky will fascinate you by its beauty and to catch a breath of fresh air having walked along the riverside.
We are going to take a look at the old provincial town and feel the breath of a bygone era. Old Town is the heart of Ust-Kamenogorsk which keeps the history with flashing shadows of people who once lived here and scents of the old times. The town preserves its origins and happily invites guests for a walk along the old streets. We will be able to touch the stones, which had been laid in the foundation of the city in 1720, to look into the windows of merchants’ houses that have been preserved in its original form. Besides that, we are going to visit the sacred and mythical confluence of two rivers that nearly 300 years ago inspired major Likharev to establish the fort named Ust-Kamennaya.
19:30-20.30 Dinner (at your expense). Transfer to the hotel. Rest at the hotel.
Day 2. Ridder, West-Altai Nature Reserve and Poperechnoe old believer village
You will have breakfast (lunch-box provided) and meet your guide in the hotel lobby afterward. 6:00 Early in the morning we hit the road from Ust-Kamenogorsk to Ridder. The ride is going to be quite long (about 135 km) but very exciting. We will get to know the history of the settlement of this region by Russian Old Believers in the second half of the XVIII century and pass through the villages, which have preserved the traditions of the Old Believers.
The main thing is not to fall asleep and not to miss the wonderful village market in the Cheremshanka village. It offers real taiga gifts: pickled mushrooms, dried herbs, jam from wild berries and medicinal tincture of fir cones. They will make the best souvenirs from this place.
9:00 In 3 hours, we arrive in a small town lost in the mountains of Russian Kazakhstan with a European sounding name Ridder.
9:00 – 9:30 Together with the guide, we will receive the necessary documents to visit the reserve and have a state inspector joining our team. He is going to be our guide today.
9:30 Now, we are heading to West-Altai State Nature Reserve by special means of transport with a high cross-country ability and, consequently, lower level of comfort. The reserve is one of the jewels in the crown of East Kazakhstan West-Altai State Nature Reserve covers an area of over 86 000 hectares. It is not the biggest one in Kazakhstan, but, despite this, has a lot of interesting places and mysterious phenomena in its territory. It will amaze you with its beauty, fascinate with fluffy firs and put a magic charm of rare birds singing.
11:00 Arrival at the reserve after 1-hour drive on a gravel road.
11:00 – 12:00 Lunch at the cordon, the boundary of the reserve. Have your lunch boxes ready, we need to eat before going out on the trail.
12:00 – 16:00 At the beginning of the route, we will find ourselves in a magical pine forest. The centuries old cedars, spruces, firs and larches hide under their canopy of shrubs and grass. The grass there is the most unique, the rarest and the most beautiful. We will definitely come across some plants, fragrant flowers, and fruit and berry bushes which are listed in the Red Book. A unique tree in the beginning of the route though is a cedar-patriarch, which has been the guard of Lineysky Ridge for more than 400 years.
We will worship the old cedar and have to take off up the path to the clouds and stone giants. Panorama view revealing from the rock bastion will be your reward for a difficult climb. Eventually, like in a fairy tale, we will reach “the top of the world” through some alpine meadows, old forest, breaking a stream of living water, through thickets of juniper and dwarf birches. These are the sensations you will experience being on a granite rock surrounded by the majestic mountains of the West Altai, the ranges with glaciers, the famous “Stone fairy tale”, river valleys, alpine swamp, precious woods and healing air.
Here we will have a rest and eat some snacks. After that, if we are quiet enough, we will sure be able to observe the life of the curious pikas and other animals. Local residents, animals and birds, may only be seen by silent and observant tourists.
The total length – 111.1 km, including: Truck part – 106 km, Walking part – 5,1 km.
17:30 The sun is on the wane, and we will have to leave the reserve. We should say goodbye to our guide and inspector and go to the Poperechnoe village. There, we will get acquainted with the local people and traditions. Poperechnoye village is an ancient taiga village with a rich 250-year history. The cozy village consisting of one street stands across the river White Uba, thus crossing it. The picturesque surroundings are composed of mountain ranges, hills covered with dense deciduous and coniferous forests, the abundance of aromatic herbs and a few sparkly rivers. The nature there is absolutely fascinating!
18:30 We will have a warm welcome and a hot homemade dinner at the guest house. Banya time! We promise it will make you feel as if you are born again. Rest. You will fall asleep at once, overwhelmed with all the impressions and incredibly pure air.
Day 3. Poperechnoe village
9:00 Leisurely breakfast from natural farm products will give us the strength and energy for the whole day. We will walk through the village and visit the small local museum, where old residents cherish the heritage of their ancestors. Once we get to know the local way of life, we can take a walk in the surrounding meadows and sit by the river. You will not want anything to distract you from watching those swirling rapids.
13:00-14:00 After the walk, you will be offered a homemade dinner cooked according to the recipes of a century ago that make it seem even more special.
14:00-18:00 After dinner, we can go into the forest. Our guide will show and tell about the diversity of native vegetation. We will collect taiga gifts – medicinal herbs, mushrooms and wild berries. Once we return to the village, we will get to cook the jam and fry some potatoes with mushrooms for dinner. We could also climb the nearest hill and admire the breathtaking view.
18:30 Hot homemade dinner in accordance with our wishes. Banya. Rest.
Day 4. Poperechnoe – Ust-Kamenogorsk
8:00 Make sure you eat your delicious breakfast before heading to the town.
9:00 Departure to Ust-Kamenogorsk. You can take a nap on your way there.
13:00-14:00 After arriving in town, we will have lunch (at your expense).
14:00-16:00 Now we can relax a bit in the hotel
16:00-19:00 It is now time to visit the Left Bank Ethnographic Complex. It is an unusual museum reserve consisting of several parks. There is the ethno-village built in the complex containing the round platform and a street which combines Kazakh yurt, Ukrainian hut, Russian hut, Korean, German, Armenian and European yards. Everything in the village strictly corresponds to historical reality: buildings, yards, supplies, household items and clothing. Most of them are real exhibits. Some of them are 100 years or more. All these things make it possible for guests to get acquainted with the history, culture and traditions of our countrymen. There are no analogues to such ethno-village in Kazakhstan.
We will also take a walk in the Zhibek Zholy park and see a beautiful imitation of the palaces of the rulers of the Silk Road countries (Kazakhstan, India, Central Asia and China). After an interesting walk, we will go to the Central Mosque, the third largest one in Kazakhstan.
19:30 You can dine on your own. Before saying goodbye, the guide will recommend you a good restaurant. Free time. Rest at the hotel
Day 5. Katon-Karagay – Uryl village
07:00 Breakfast at the hotel
08:00 We will meet and get acquainted with our new guide. He will be our guide to Katon-Karagay. The road passes through the picturesque serpentine – the Osinovsky pass. The rise to the Osinovsky pass is one of the most beautiful places on this road. Despite the complexity of the way with its 180 degree bends, the view from the Osinovskiy pass is simply stunning. Breathtaking views and steep turns will keep you excited the entire ride. We will have lunch at a roadside cafe in the picturesque village Turgusun (at your expense).
In the afternoon, we arrive in Uryl village and check into a guest house. We will drink some tea with homemade cakes and the famous Katon-Karagay honey. After that, we will unpack and try to adapt ourselves to our new home and get acquainted with the inhabitants of the village.
In the evening, be ready for being briskly smacked with a birch bath broom in the traditional Russian banya heated with firewood. If you do not like its strong steam, you can just take a shower. Homemade dinner with a rural flavor. Rest. Accumulate some strength, tomorrow we should be ready for new adventures.
Day 6. Yazevoe Lake
08:00-09:00 After eating some natural farm products for breakfast, we will hit the road.
09:00 We are going to the lake Yazevoe. The Yazevoe is a picturesque lake on the way to Belukha from the south-west side. Its size is relatively small – 1.0 x 0.4 km. It is surrounded by the forested mountains overgrown with pine passing to the upper alpine meadows. The lake offers a magnificent view of the Belukha, which can be seen reflected in the lake on a clear day. The lake is famous for its good fishing as its name says (“Yaz” is the Russian word for “ide”). It is the only lake in the region with the ides reaching about 3 kg in weight.
On the way to the Yazevoe lake, we are going to visit a beautiful Yazev waterfall. Lunch. We will eat a quick snack and take off. Lunch box and thermos of hot tea are provided The duration of the path is about 4 hours each way. Having reached home, we will have banya and hot homemade dinner.
Day 7. Austrian road, Burkhat pass to observe Mount Belukha
08:00-09:00 Homemade breakfast and off we go to Burkhat pass
Our goal is to see the view of the Katun Ridge and Mount Belukha, which is visible from Burkhat pass. The road to the pass begins at Uryl village located at the foot of Tarbagatai Mount at the confluence of Urylki (Uryl) and Bukhtarma rivers. Next, the path goes along the motorway to the west. We drive through Enbek village and at the 25th kilometer we turn off the road towards the Tarbagatai ridge. Here starts the famous Austrian road built by the Austrian (Czech) prisoners of war in 1916. The road is famous for its beauty. At the same time, the road has historical and cultural value as a kind of monument to the strength and hardness of people who had managed to build the road in harsh mountain conditions only using shovels and pickaxes.
Here you can see all the vertical plant-climate zones of the Southern Altai. We will cross the foot of the ridge with steppe vegetation and delve into a mixed forest zone (birch, aspen, fir, cedar). We will then climb slowly more than 1 km up along the steep serpentines. Mixed forest gives way to pine forests with larches, which then turns into alpine meadows and on to the alpine tundra with dwarf birches. In some places, one can find some glaciers which do not melt even in summer. There is the observation deck not far from the pass, which offers a beautiful view of the Bukhtarma river valley.
After 16 kilometer ride, we reach the Burkhat pass (2141 m) In the north, we are offered a beautiful view of Katun ridge with two-headed Belukha (4506 m) covered with snow, the highest mountain of the Altai and Siberia – the main reason for our 2-hour drive. We can climb the nearby peaks and capture the magnificent landscapes.
At lunchtime, we will have a traditional picnic enjoying the view of Mount Belukha. Most tourists usually walk the way back to the foot of the pass using the opportunity to stop and admire the scenery.
Once again, we get into the car and complete the rest of our way. Finally, we go back home to enjoy Russian banya and delicious dinner.
Day 8. Korobiha old believer`s village
7:00-8:00 Homemade breakfast
8:00 We leave for the village Korobiha which used to be bright and original cultural center of Old Believers in the past. This village was founded in 1792. We will have a chance to get acquainted with this settlement, pay a visit to a rural community local history museum, have interesting conversations with the old countrymen and visit the church of St. Peter and Paul built ten years ago by Valentina Murzintseva, the oldest inhabitant of the village. Here we will continue the study of the history of the old faith in Eastern Kazakhstan. We are going to be told interesting stories about the mythical and free country called Belovodye.
Lunch and dinner with very hospitable local people. Overnight at the farmhouse with woven paths. Discussions under the crackle of candles can last until the rooster crow early in the morning. They say, dream is the sweetest at the dawn.
Day 9. Drive back to Ust-Kamenogorsk
We will have breakfast and leave for Ust-Kamenogorsk. Our journey comes to an end. East or west, home is best!
At this time, the road will pass through the Bolshenarym village towards Vasilievskaya crossing of Bukhtarma reservoir. We will get to the opposite shore on the ferry.
We may have lunch at a roadside cafe (at your expense) or eat the food we have taken with us.
17:00 Arrival in Ust-Kamenogorsk. Hotel check-in. Dinner (at your expense). You may spend the rest of the day wandering a bit along the streets of the town you have fallen in love with and take some great photos. Rest at the hotel
Day 10. Good bye and departure
08:00 Breakfast at the hotel. 09:00 Check out from the hotel. 09:30 Transfer to the airport.
Tour price per person in a group of 2: 1712 USD
- Transfers according to the program
- Excursions according to the program (including entrance fees and the services of English-speaking guides)
- Accommodation at Dedeman 4* Ust-Kamenogorsk (bed and breakfast) – 3 nights,
- Accommodation in peasant house and 3 meals in Poperechnoye, Uryl, Korobiha villages
- Kazakhstan border zone permit
- Village guesthouse in Poperechnoe has no indoor toilet (only outside) and no shower. Russian banya is arranged daily in the evening instead.
- In Uryl village a guesthouse is equiped with bio-toilet and shower. Plus a Russian banya every evening.
- Tour price can be changed depending on the number of tourists
- Departure and arrival time from/in Ust-Kamenogorsk is indicative
- The time and order of tourist services listed in the program are subject to change while maintaining their volume and quality
- The trip to Uryl village requires having a permit, because this place is considered a border area. It takes 21 days to get the permit. Please take this into account when applying.