Where to Go at Altay Mountains: Teletskoye Lake

Author: Dimitry Paranyushkin (on 21 Aug 2009)

The most famous and oldest Altay tourist destination, considered to be a smaller replica of Baikal lake. May be interesting if you've never seen a lake, otherwise it's better to spend your time to see other areas at Altay.

What is Teletskoye Lake.
Teletskoye lake is the biggest lake at Altay mountains. This area was one of the first at Altay to become a popular tourist destination and the oldest Russian tour base is located on the shore of the lake. Many people consider Teletskoye a smaller replica of Baikal

Teletskoye lake, Altay mountains

lake, and ascribe magic healing properties to the lake's water. Thousands of Russian tourists go every year to Teletskoy lake to spend a vacation and for many it is a family tradition.
Of course, the lake looks very beautiful and the water seems to be "crystal-clear", but there's something boring about it. The problem is that there are a few "popular" spots on the lake and you can take a 2 hour excursion by boat (1700 R - $60) and see them all in one go. And then you will be left with nothing else to do. The area itself is not very impressive, there are no accessible mountains, there's no "wild" feel in the air, it seems more like a resort town where people come to spend a few lazy days.
Also, maybe it's not true, but local people say that Teletskoye lake is polluted on the other side, which is about 80 km to the north. The problem is that during the Soviet times there was a space launch base at Baikonur in Kazakhstan. When the rockets were going up in the air, there were parts of them separating and falling just neatly in the area around Teletskoy lake (which is a natural park, by the way!). Sometimes, they were harmful, but sometimes there were remains of poisonous rocket fuel inside that was spreading around. The tests don't show that there are any problems, but during the Soviet times there were a few cases when a local person, having found a nice piece of metal and installed it on the roof of his country toilet, died after a few years of contamination...
As I said, maybe it's just another horror story, but it made my stay at Teletskoye lake much more exciting...
Among the main attractions is the lake itself, "Stone Bay" which was supposedly formed by a falled meteorite, and Korbu waterfall (about 1 hour by boat from Aktybash).

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How to Get There.
If you decide to go to Teletskoye lake, there's nothing easier: take a bus or a car from Gorno-Altaysk, and in 3 hours you

Teletskoye lake, Altai mountains

are there (it's about 200 km away). It will be harder to get back, but if you ask people at the local tour bases, maybe somebody will give you a lift.
There are a few tour bases just before Teletskoy lake, and one night usually costs about 150 R ($5) per person (excluding meals). It's also possible to order Russian banya (sauna) for $10 per hour.
The main settlement on the shore of the lake is Artybash, where you can find many 24 hour shops selling food and essentials, a few open cafes, and boat-drivers offering their tour services in the daytime.



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