Where to Go at Altay Mountains: Aktru Glacier
Aktru is the most accessible glacier at Altay. It is one of the most impressive places at the mountains and we highly recommend to visit it if you have more than 5 days at Altai.
What is Aktru Glacier. There are two places at Altay where you can experience the "real" mountains with snow, impressive heights, remote lakes, and mysterious glaciers: Beluha and Aktru. While Beluha attracts
Aktru glacier and mountains
more tourists, Aktru is the destination for alpinists and snowboarders. The distance from Gorno-Altaysk to Beluha and to Aktru is about the same, but one should walk about 50 km to Beluha, and Aktru is just 8 km away from the place that can be accessed by car.
Aktru is the mountain area about 400 km away from Gorno-Altaysk along Chuysky Trakt. The heights start from 1500 m and go up to 3000 m high. At the height of 2500 m the mountains are covered by snow all year round.
Among the main attractions are the "Blue Lake" located on the height of 2840 meters and "Teacher's Saddle", from where you can have a view on Altay mountains hundreds kilometers ahead. The path to the "Blue Lake" lies along the glacier itself, so it's quite an interesting experience: the surface of glacier seems to look like a surface of another planet... In summer there's a path along the stones, so you won't need special equipment.
Also, in the area of Aktru there are various plants (like Kuril Tea, Badan used in tea) and berries (Brusnika). All of them are ready in August.
There's accommodation in wooden houses and cottages available at Aktru camp (it's small and unpretentious) as well as places for camps and sauna. On our trip to Aktru we met a very nice person who works in Aktru tourbase (he made a banya for us), his name is Nikolay and you can read an interview with him at Life in Russia / Russian People section.
Once you settle in Aktru, it's possible to make short 1-day walks to the mountains around and to glacier itself. Also, it's possible to do snowboarding and skiing there (there are no elevators, it's "wild" and at your own risk).
How to Get There. Located 400 km from Gorno-Altaysk along Chuysky Trakt, Aktru is best accessed by car. There's a daily bus to Kosh-Agach as well, but it takes really long and is not very reliable. You should stop at Kurai village and then turn to the right to go to the direction of Aktru. There's no auto-road, so the car will have to go about 1 hour and a half along the
The "Circus" area at Aktru
gravel path through the field. If you go there in the evening, you will see beautiful dusk and the vast space around is very impressive also.
After 1.5 hours you will arrive to the place with a wooden house and a bridge over a river. That is a check point, where you can camp and leave your car. You can walk from there further to Aktru tour camp, which is 8 km far through the forest road (about 2 hours). It's also possible to get there with a 4WD car. Once you walk the first 4 km, you will see the area called "Circus", which is a name for flat valley, covered with grey gravel, with mountains on both sides. Three are small rivers flowing through the "Circus", but you can walk along the right side - there's a walking path. When you reach Aktru camp you can settle there and ask the staff about the walks you can make. Nobody speaks English there, but they will readily show you the direction.
If you travel there by your own, a good idea may be to take a guide with a car from Barnaul, make him wait about 3 days at the check point before Aktru and then come back. This would cost about $300-$350 for a minivan fitting 6 people. See more information in Transport section.
What to Do & Where to Live. The best place to live at Aktru is a tourist camp base called "Aktru", which is located at the foot of Aktru glacier. This base was established by Tomsk State University for scientists who study glaciers and local mountain safety team. Nowadays there are a few wooden houses and more comfortable cottages, where you can get full board for 300R ($10) per night per person. During Summer the base is often full, but if you bring your own tent, you can camp there as well - there are many nice spots and you can make a fire there. To reserve a room at the tourbase you can contact their travel agency in Tomsk: (3822) 210-213, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, there's a Russian banya (sauna), which you can have for 200 R ($7) per hour.
Here's a list of top activities at Aktru:
|Russian Banya. Have a real Russian sauna and then jump in the mountain lake just opposite. Unforgettable and completely "stoning" experience. Banya can be ordered at Aktru camp.|
|"Blue Lake". The lake is located at the height of 2840 m and is in about 4 hour ascend from Aktru camp. The water is blue because the bottom of the lake is icy, but it's not really cold. There's a little wooden house-shelter, where you can sleep overnight.|
|Climb the nearby mountains. There are many paths on the nearby mountains. You can just walk around this area and enjoy breath-taking views and pristine nature. Also, sometimes there are local snowboarders coming, so if you're into it, you can join them.|
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