The Altai mountains, according to an old Mongolian legend, have gold, – that’s why it was named Altai, which means“Gold Mountains”.
Altai crosses Mongolia, Kazakhstan, China, and Russia. Some of the biggest rivers in this region, that are river Ob and river Irtysh, find their sources from these mountain ranges. At the northwest end of Altai ranges they merge with Sayan Mountains – a mountain range in Mongolia, and lower to merge with Gobi desert, located on a high plateau. The mountain ranges stretch for over 2,000 kilometers from the North-West to the South-East, and are so diverse in nature that once you visit them, they quench your thirst for travel.
Many European travelers who have found an opportunity to visit Altai Mountains have noticed there close resemblance to the Alps. That’s why Altay is sometimes referred to by other names, such as Siberian Switzerland, the Katun Alps, and North Tchuya.
These mountain ranges do not have much infrastructure built on them, and they still look untouched as they have always been. There are greater sites to see on the Altai mountain ranges, for example, caves and rivers. In the late 1970’s deep caves were discovered in the mountains by visitors. There is also the beautiful Chulcha River, that is an attraction to many climbers. Its height is over 1860 meters, and the view is extraordinary.
The Sailughem Mountains are found in the North part of the region. Also known as Kolyyan Altai, they stretch from the North-East up to the Western part, merging with Sayan Mountains. They range from 1,500 meters to 1,750 meters above sea level.
Some of the highest peaks found on these mountain ranges are Ulan-daban, which is 2,827 meters above sea level, and Chapchan-daban, which is 3,217 meters above sea level. The South-East side of the mountain ranges is covered by the great plateau of Mongolia.
To get to Altai, you can travel from Moscow to Barnaul in Altai Krai, Russia, by plane. To find your way through Altai, you can use motor transport. For foreigners, it is worth noting that to enter the Altai Republic, you have to adhere to several formalities, including a Russian visa and identity cards to prove your identity. Before climbing the mountains, if you check in to a hotel or a tourist center, you are required to sign in with your passport. If your stay will be over three days, registration with the home affairs department is necessary.
A popular campsite in Altai Mountains is found in the valley of Aktru, 2,150 meters above sea level. To get to this campsite, you can use an off-road vehicle. The valley is situated at the foot of a glacier and gives a spectacular view.