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Cool facts about the Altai Mountains

a large body of water with a mountain in the background

Altai … This word was used to call a vast mountainous country in the center of the Asian continent. Now this country covers an area of Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, and China. The Altai Territory area is 92,000 square kilometers.
Everyone should visit the Altai Mountains at least once in their life. It has everything: snowy peaks, turbulent rivers, endless plains, clear lakes and landscapes of incredible beauty. If you travel the Trans-Siberian Railway make a stop in Novosibirsk and plan a trip to Altai. This is 8 hours from Novosibirsk by car. People come here to escape from the hustle and bustle with nature. We will tell you some great facts about this region and why you should go there as soon as possible.


a canyon with a mountain in the background 

How does it feel- to be in the center of Eurasia?

 If you look at the map of the Eurasian continent, you will see Altai in the very center of the map. It’s the center of the world. It’s great to describe this territory using one Greek word “omphalos”, which means “the navel of the Earth”. People call it the “navel” because it is equally distant from the three oceans – the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian. The Republic is located right at the junction of the Siberian taiga, Kazakh steppes and Gobi Desert of Mongolia. This is a mountainous country with an extremely picturesque landscape. That’s “Russian Tibet” in the center of Eurasia at the junction of several states, natural zones, and cultural worlds.


a man flying through the air on a cloudy day

The Altai mountains are a watershed between the basin of the Arctic Ocean and the inland region of Central Asia. The riches are located in its various corners and this country impresses with its generosity. The granite rocks and cliffs seem ready to fall into the dark gaping abysses. These are picturesque mountain systems, which, like fabulous giants, stand in the blue of the sky. These caves are the kingdom of eternal darkness. There are fabulous mountain lakes and stormy Ob river. These are crystal sonorous streams, jumping on pebbles between trees.

Be lucky to meet snow leopards

In addition to huge bears and majestic lynxes, in Altai mountains and its forests, you can meet snow leopards. That is the only large cat species that have adapted to live in the conditions of severe highlands. This is the largest cat living in Siberian Altai. The body length of adult animals is around 105- 130 cm; the mass is from 30 to 40 kg. They are confined to high ridges, where animals live both in the alpine zone and in the mountain tundra. This is a graceful and beautiful predator, which is often called ” the master of the mountains.” However, his life is not as easy as it might seem. Due to global warming and hunting, the numbers of these Siberian animals are decreasing every year. Across Russia, there are only 90 individuals, of which about 40 live in Altai mountains. At the moment, the snow leopard is listed in the Red Book. The Red Book is a completely official, legislative document. It contains a list of those animals and plants that are threatened with extinction. 


a leopard in the snow

These beautiful animals are not only a matter of pride but also an object of concern. After all, the snow leopard is in the Red Book now and needs protection. Even former poachers decided to protect rare cats from complete extermination. Huntsmen remove traps and often risk their lives, fighting with those who decided to get expensive fur. Previously, this predator was considered harmful, and hunting for it was allowed year-round. The murder that could kill snow leopards were even given a premium. Now it’s forbidden to shoot a leopard. Locals believe that seeing a rare beast is good luck. For many peoples, this beast is a symbol of strength, nobility, and power. Asian folklore is full of stories and legends about this elusive predator. Few people manage to see the snow leopard in the wild nature. 

 Where are the first Americans from? From Altai!

For several thousand years, the Altai region served as a kind of natural incubator of new peoples. About 20–25 thousand years ago the ancestors of the Indians came out from there, settled in Siberia and eventually reached America. That’s why the Altai Republic should be considered the genetic homeland of the first Americans. This conclusion was reached by an international group of researchers. A real sensation in the scientific world was the latest study by American scientists. Historians have found that the descendants of ancient people that had lived in North America about 5,000 years ago are still alive. Subsequent studies have shown that almost all modern Native Americans have traces of six women who crossed the Bering Strait about 20,000 years ago in their family tree. 
Of course, the study of the historical and genetic relationships of the Indian people has great importance for modern science. Having created one of the most highly developed cultures, the Indians made a huge contribution to world civilization. The peoples of the world adopted from the Indians the cultivation of corn, potatoes, tomatoes, sunflowers, cocoa, and other crops. The contribution of the Indians to the spiritual treasury of human culture isn’t less significant. It is pleasant to realize that one of the most powerful civilization was born here, in a beautiful mountainous region that is full of secrets.

See the places of the oldest civilizations


Altai is not only a combination of diverse landscapes, the most interesting flora and fauna, huge reserves of mineral and natural resources. This is an area with a rich historical past, as evidenced by hundreds of thousands of archaeological sites. “Museums” are located right under the sky, in the open air. There’re rock paintings, stone sculptures and runic letters, mounds and cave houses of our ancient ancestors. Altai is a place of convergence of different civilizations and peoples. Often civilizations and peoples converged on a field of misunderstanding, aggression, hostility, and war. But it is the only place where has not been a single world war. The absence of wars allowed to form a very special civilization. 


a close up of a rock

There is a large number of ancient cave paintings called petroglyphs. There are 172 monuments of this type with more than 10,000 drawings in total. Petroglyphs are widely known in Bichiktu-Boom, Kalbak-Tash, Yelangash tracts. There’re also drawings in the Kucherla river valley, at the villages of Mendur-Sokkon, Tungur, Besh-Ozek, and Chemal. Petroglyphs represent images of animals, but there are also images of hunters and fantastic creatures. An image of a swastika was found in the valley of the Tarkat River. There are also runic inscriptions and Buddhist symbols.
The ancestor of Altai shamans

In 1993, the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography discovered the main archaeological find of the 20th century. The Ukok Plateau, where scientists found it, is considered a sacred place among Altai. Some researchers call this plateau the “Altar of Eurasia”. There was one of the most mysterious finds of history- the mummy of a woman whose age is 2.5 thousand years. Her body was covered with tattoos in the Scythian style with animal pictures. There are many legends and beliefs related to the “Altai Princess”. But the most interesting thing is that shamans consider her the ancestor of their people. The discovery of the princess radically changed the world and understanding of the life of the Scythians.



Mysterious Belukha or why you can’t climb the mountain ridges

Russian Altai is located at the intersection zone of geomorphological strata. Mount Belukha is one of the highest mountains in Russia. You can climb the highest peak of the Altai Mountains and enjoy the gorgeous view of Gorno Altaysk. Besides, it is included in the seven shrines – the Altai mountains are sacred mountains of our planet. People come here to find answers to questions, to gain health and revelation. Belukha will impress everyone. The mount is so beautiful, majestic and graceful that in any case, she causes a storm of feelings and emotions. There are many names for this mountain. Russians called it Belukha because of the abundance of snow cover. Altaians called it “Kadym-Baja”, or “Katyn-Bash”, that is, “the peak of Katun river”, and “Ak-Su-Ryu” – “White Water”. The Kirghiz of the Southern Siberia call it “Muss-do-Tau”, that means “Ice Mountain”.

Belukha has long been considered a sacred place. People also considered her a refuge of formidable forces and were afraid to even look at it. They believed that the evil spirit Erlik lived in its ice chambers and caves. He would punish anyone who dares to climb the slopes of Belukha. It was said that everyone who dares to go up to Belukha will become blind. There is now an explanation for much of this. So, for example, the first daredevils who tried to climb glaciers and snowfields without dark glasses went blind from the scorching reflected light. 
But even now, many shamans believe that Belukha is energetically connected with the Cosmos. They are sure that this “navel” of the Earth can give people a charge of energy and health.

“Genghis Khan was here in Altai”

Did you know that the ancient capital of the Genghis Khan Empire is located in Altai? The city of Karakorum was founded in 1220 when Genghis Khan moved a military residence to the upper reaches of the Orkhon River. Karakoram City for some time was the Russian capital too. Russian princes received labels here, Alexander Nevsky coordinated political plans. It was a long period of oblivion when no one knew about Karakorum.
A Russian traveler, a member of the Russian Geographical Society Nikolay Yadrintsev discovered the city in 1886. He and the group of Cossacks went to the headwaters of Orkhon River. For several summer months, scientists searched for ruins and discovered an ancient city near the famous Buddhist monastery Erdeni-Dzu. Excavations unfolded until 1891, and after that, the world learned about the ancient capital of Genghis Khan. For local peoples, this news stirred up the memory of the times when a powerful empire united most of Eurasia.


background pattern

In the past, it was a huge city. The gunsmiths captured in the neighboring countries were brought here. The city forged weapons for nomadic armies. But during the decline of the Mongol state, the Chinese army destroyed the city of Karakorum. The empire fell into small parts. Then, in the 15th century, Buddhist monks came back here and founded the Erdeni-Dzu Monastery, which exists to this day. In 2007 a group of scientists from the Academy of Sciences of Magadan identified a genetic trail. It goes back to the merciless leader who created the largest empire ever seen in the world. As it turned out, more than a third of the alleged descendants of Genghis Khan inhabit the territory of historical Mongolia. Among the population of Russia, 8.3 percent of Altai Kazakhs have Genghis Khan’s genes. Check your family tree, maybe you are one of them!  

Visit one of four gambling zones in Russia!

Altai is an amazing region of Russia.  It combines breathtaking natural places in the Altai Republic including Altai mountains, as well as a modern gambling zone which is situated in the Altai Region with the capital in Barnaul.  If you plan to enjoy not only mountain views, but also to have a great time in one of the best gaming places in Russia, you need to include a visit to this place in your travel plan.  But do not forget that Russia is a very large country, and Altai is not an exception.

There are four official gambling zones in this huge country. These are places where everyone can legally gamble. “Siberian Coin” is one of the four approved zones in Russia. 
In the first Siberian casino work more than 100 specialists, of which 54 are croupiers, and the rest are maintenance personnel. The casino has 15 gaming tables, 20 slot machines, and three VIP-halls. The territory of the “Siberian Coin” is located at a distance of 288 kilometers from the capital of the Altai Region – the city of Barnaul. It has a huge area- 2304 hectares. This is the only gambling establishment in the Russian Federation from the Urals to the Far East.
You are very welcome to enjoy the game in the company of your friends and have fun!

Are you tired of the fast life in the city? It’s time to rest your soul and gain strength in Altai just in the center of Eurasia!


a group of people standing on a rocky hill


Altai mountains are the exact opposite of bustling cities with round-the-clock illumination and supermarkets at every turn. The local way of life has hardly changed for decades: herds of horses still graze on the fields, people believe in mysterious spirits, and the mobile connection appears occasionally. There are villages here, which most of the year cannot be reached by car. The inhabitants carry water with a rocker and bake bread themselves. This is an ideal place for everyone who wants to break out of the world of progress for a short time and find themselves next to the highest point of Siberia.