Russia. Republic Altai. 2019

alekseyklimov

Observer
So, yesterday we camped in the river valley and we planned a small radial outing to the lookout for today.



We decided to leave some of the cars and the tent in the camp, because part of the group decided to go back on foot to stretch their legs and enjoy some hiking.



The area here is calm, so without a shadow of doubt, we left part of the property and nothing was lost in the end.



Sable heads the convoy and leads three campers.

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Last time I was here was in 2016, and as it turned out, the configuration of the ascent to the Karagem pass has changed a little since then - one bend has crumbled but another one has been created. A large stone lies rather unpleasantly in the new section, but everyone coped with the obstacle perfectly. And the campers, due to automatic transmissions, ad it even easier than the Sable.



The places here are quite lively in August. A column of ATVs overtook us a minute ago, then we will meet the Pajero Sport from Kemerovo and in the end there will be an encounter with a horseman with a rifle and horses.



We do not plan to go down to the Karagem glade - we are only going to reach the pass and we will look down at everything from up there. Plus, the children were promised snow within walking distance, but that turned out to be a lie :)



The altitude is 2837 meters at the pass, and you can feel it both in temperature and in shortness of breath when you try to run.



Half an hour ago, we were repairing a punctured wheel and now a new trouble - the drone crashed. We had to crawl for forty minutes along this slope, but managed to find the drone with a flash drive and all the broken parts. No more high-altitude shots from now on - pity!



Everyone wanders around taking pictures, and I pester foreigners: is this the best view for the trip?!



There was no snow within walking distance, but all in all it’s pretty close!





It’s highly likely this is not even last year's, but older snow and ice.



In my view, this is one of the most beautiful views on this trip!



If you zoom in, you can see a camp site, which wasn’t there while we were driving up. It must be a camp of ATV guys who had overtaken us on the climb and gone farther.

 

alekseyklimov

Observer
The Lost World of Conan Doyle! No photos and videos can convey the scale of this picture - you just want to scream your lungs out from overwhelming emotions



The return trip is always faster and easier, because you go downhill.



There is no mobile connection so we can only guess about the weather. Rain clouds are flocking but it hasn’t rained yet. Everyone’s been complaining that this year is rainy but we’ve been lucky so far!



The approaching camper smells like brake pads, but all the crew are delighted with the off-road special stage.



The camp was waiting for us without losses, so out of sheer joy we almost burned the tent There was a slight desynchronization of actions when preparing the kovurdok - the cauldron was too hot and after oil was added it produced a dazzling two-metre pillar of fire! But by joint efforts the fire was smothered and no people were harmed and property was not damaged.



In the evening we stayed up until late, and then it started to rain and it rained all night and all the next day.



Our camera man Vlad has long demanded some kind of action and in the morning we decided that it was time to make him happy It turned out fun and quite spectacular, but most importantly, not a single camper was damaged!

 

alekseyklimov

Observer
The fact that it rained all day did not upset us, because this day had been planned for the drive and technical tasks. The sable needed resupply of water and gas, and the group needed to buy products for the next stage of the autonomous trip.



Besides, the technical vehicle had destroyed the shock absorber conical plugs, which we had changed just before the departure and now we needed to drop into the store with GAZ spare parts - luckily, it’s not hard to find spare parts for a shuttle van in Kosh-Agach :)





Of course, it didn’t go quickly in the village, so we spent the night on the Jazator River, not reaching the village of the same name.


At first I had an idea to reach Samakhi in the dark, but i didn’t want to deprive the guys of the awe that overtakes you when you leave the forest for the open prairie.



Not a trace of yesterday’s rain! The Nature understands that we have two days stays here and we need excellent beach resort weather



On the other side of the river, a road runs along the slope and you can even see the Camel’s Neck pass - but we will go there only tomorrow.



I’ve already talked about the specifics of traveling in a large group using enormous consumption of water as an example, and so now I’ll tell you about another point - garbage!

There is a lot of garbage from 17 people and I am personally responsible for it because it must be optimized without fail. Plastic bottles must be twisted so hard that there is no air left; everything that can be pressed must be compacted as much as possible. We do not burn garbage, but take it out. We have two huge garbage bags that hang at the stern of a technical Sable for this purpose. It is alone and almost empty in this photo, but I think you get the point.



There was very little left before the camp when the road went into the forest and tracks with large stones appeared. Every camper driver drives differently - some are cautious, and some are more confident.




As the yacht's name, so will be its fame (c)
The kids wrote on Dmitry’s door this comic statement and he is the only one who bends the shank protection and we stopped for five minutes to bend it back so that it wouldn’t scrape the universal joint. All of this should be included in the film about the trip and I think it should be interesting.



Vlad isn’t a fan of careful drivers. What am I supposed to do with these boring shots! - he is outraged. The camera man loves it when you jump up and down the stones and bang up your protector



And here is our goal - the merging of muddy Argut and cyan Coksu. Here we will spend the next two days and from here we will go on radial trips, but more on that in the next part...

 

alekseyklimov

Observer


So, here we are and here we would spend a couple of days blissfully relaxing. A quality day’s rest in good weather in a beautiful place is half the success of the whole trip, and we already have a small collection of those, so we seem to even exceed the plan.



Note how I, taking advantage of my official position and arguing for the need to hide the refrigerators in the shade, chose the best parking place in the shade



I’m an extremely curious person, but also a lazy one. I can see that it is a wade across Koksu, but perhaps it is a freight wade, so it would be interesting to check for the future. So I incited Vlad to amuse himself and go check it out in waders.



The idea, as one would expect, failed. This is the limit of what you can test with your feet in a mountain river. After that you get washed away, in spite of your youth, dexterity and strength.



This is what the miraculously rescued wade explorer looks like, and in the background you can see the property entrusted to me in a state of complete disarray.



Koksu is turquoise, Argut is muddy. Standing at their junction, you can watch as they flow together, but separately - “shaken not stirred” as one British citizen would say.



In the end, Vlad finally did scout the wade across Koksu, when the locals went to the other side for hay and even caught them on video. A full-sized video, by the way, is coming and I have a feeling it will be good.



Day camps are nice and all, but they need to be varied sometimes. So we decided to drive to the high point of the opposite shore, to look at the beauty around from there. They decided to leave two campers and the Sable in the camp, so that they occupied our spot.



This is the view of the junction and our camp from the Camel Neck Pass. The eagle-eyed can see the lonely campers on the sand bar and a ZIL with hay on the other side. We weren’t able to take golden pictures like in 2016 this time due to weather grayness and wrong time of day, but this still should convey the point and the understanding of geography.



I remember all that is necessary very well, but they are memories of traveling with just one car. I remember very well that there is enough space on the road, but I didn’t take into account that we have a convoy of three cars and in this format the “pockets” don’t seem as wide.



All in all, the decision not to take a complete set of available vehicles into the radial trip proved to be very sensible.



Vlad is shooting a movie and I’m trying my best to help him. By ordering “actors” about and coming up with different (most favourable in my opinion) angles for filming.



We laugh at the fact that it is very convenient during editing that the campers look the same. You can film each from a different angle, and then edit it as if we were shooting just one from five cameras

 

alekseyklimov

Observer
Since we had broken the drone at the last stop, we greatly increased the overall speed of the group and quickly reached the observation point.



This is the view we’ve come here for! We won’t go down further, because there’s simply no time for this - hungry kids are waiting for us in the camp, who were promised that we’d be back in no time(c) and would return in a couple of hours :)



This picture was taken on August 20, and, as you can see, autumn with its gold colours is still very far away although this peak will be covered in snow tomorrow morning.



While we were taking pictures we encountered hikers from... Switzerland! It was really unexpected and funny, we have our own Swiss - we say :) It must’ve been funny for Max to meet his compatriots on the other side of the world and, to put it mildly, in a not very popular tourist place!



Meanwhile, a car pulled up and in order to let it pass, one of the campers had to press very close to the edge. And deep inside I was once again happy that we drove three campers here instead of six.



In the end, we fed the Swiss, gave them a bit to drink and gave them a lift down, so they had a very short walk left to Belyashi. Which they were very happy about and did not show any desire to continue their journey in Ъ format full of hardships and deprivations


By the way, we returned to the camp in almost six hours



When traveling, I usually get up pretty early, because I think that it’s natural for a person to live by the sun, and for a camera man it’s a sin to sleep long outdoors.



That’s why, while everyone is sleeping, I run with the camera along the shore and take photos of how the rising sun warms the air and disperses the night fog.



In this place, at this time, the sun begins its rise behind the mountain allowing us to see such light and shade contrasts.



You take a picture, and in five seconds a piece of the mountain peeps out of the “window” and you take another one - as a result, you get 100500 pictures with varying degrees of similarity. I don’t know how analog photographers deal with this problem, but I sure am happy I’m not them :)



I used a telephoto lens on this large predator, but was not ready and slightly smudged the shot. So I’m not much of a birdwatcher...



The fog slowly recedes from the opposite shore.



And now the first sun rays touch the tops of the trees. How can you sleep at this time?!



And here are the snow-covered peaks. They aren’t very high here and this snow will melt a little later when the sun finally rises.

 

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alekseyklimov

Observer
Samakha prairie is our final chord in this journey. Almost two weeks are behind us and we only have get to Gorno-Altaysk along the Chuysky tract. We missed most of it, because we encountered it only in Aktash, so for most of the team it will also be interesting and quite beautiful.



This is the gorgeous view from the garbage dump near Jazator (Belyashi village). But the trash is behind us, and in front of us there is such beauty that you can’t take your eyes off!



When we were going to Samakha and driving through the village of Jazator, a conversation started in our group about how people live in such wild places. I’m not actually surprised at all and would love to live in a “wild place” myself. But there is one “but” - I can easily imagine myself living, for example, in Jazator, but I would never want to live in Kosh-Agach, for example.



Don’t think there’s a need to explain why...



The way back along the Jazator-Kosh-Agach road is more beautiful than the way there. It’s just that the best views are arranged in a way that you go back through them with your “eyes” at them and not with the “back of the head”. Plus the weather is way better than when we arrived. So we make a lot of stops to take pictures.




One of the best views from this road.



I would like to arrive here someday and very slowly feel these views with my eyes/feet/wheels, and not just with a telephoto lens.



It’s my fifth visit to Altai and there’s still so much I haven’t seen!



The way back is always shorter and quicker. Passed the border guards, presented ourselves and the foreigners to them and made a stop in Kosh-Agach to replenish the eaten up supplies. We still have one more overnight stop and it will be somewhere halfway to Gorno-Altaysk.



Kosh-Agach is a magnet for foreign tourists. They get here after Mongolia and here there is some extraordinary amount of them. These guys are from the Czech Republic - I am lucky with the Czechs From here they go to Kazakhstan and then to Kyrgyzstan - I told them about the Kazakh roads and a little dissuaded them from the fears and horrors that they had been told about those places.



While they were buying and refueling, they drove forward, but we quickly overtook them - they were going very slowly, about 60 km/h. Probably, because of the low-power motorcycle, or maybe they were just in no hurry.

 

alekseyklimov

Observer
After the Czechs we had another interesting encounter.



Denis Zabelin on a Patrol and new truck Michelin XZL 255/100 r16 tyres goes to conquer Altai single-handedly. Where else would people from the capital meet?



While taking pictures in an abandoned hydroelectric power station and winching one of the campers in the flooded meadow, I saw this mark on the map and decided to check.



Not sure that a camper from the pictogram would get there, but the place turned out to be great to stay the night!



Quiet, calm, difficult for city cars to reach, very close to the highway and with these views



I call that a “freebie” The view of the repeater from here is also available, by the way.



And this will be my last photo from this trip I would like to show. There will also be the Chuysky tract, Kalbaktash excursion, the junction of Katun and Chui, heavy rain till Gorno-Altaysk, night loading of cars on a car transporter and early departure.



It was a great trip marked by a great company and just fantastically awesome weather. I really hope that this is not my last visit to Altai
 

Mykh

Outdoor Party Animal
Said it before and will say it again, what a gorgeous land!

Looks like you guys organized an awesome trip and carried it out very well. Great job!

Was taking a look at your site and I know every trip/price is custom, but to get a rough idea, what would the price range be for the trip you planned here?

Edit: are you guys (trucks / base) based out of Moscow or elsewhere in Russia? I saw you mention putting the trucks onto a shipping trailer back to home, curious how far you have to take these every trip.
 
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alekseyklimov

Observer
Said it before and will say it again, what a gorgeous land!

Looks like you guys organized an awesome trip and carried it out very well. Great job!

Was taking a look at your site and I know every trip/price is custom, but to get a rough idea, what would the price range be for the trip you planned here?

Edit: are you guys (trucks / base) based out of Moscow or elsewhere in Russia? I saw you mention putting the trucks onto a shipping trailer back to home, curious how far you have to take these every trip.
Thanks a lot!

The base cost of this 2 week-long trip by Altai will be 5500 $ per car
The cost of a “ticket” for our trip is not calculated per person, but for the whole car.
The main reason for this is that you get the car for full personal use. The motorhome will become your personal space for the duration of the trip and no strangers (other participants or company employees) will invade this space of yours. It is very convenient and comfortable for you, especially on long trips.

That being said, the perfect comfortable capacity of our off-road motorhomes is either "two adults + two children" or "three adults". You can travel with your spouse, take children with you or other relatives if you wish. This is your right and this will not affect the cost of travel

Usually our camper truck are based in Moscow
Car delivery by car transporters is expensive, but it’s worth it! Our country is so vast that sometimes driving to the destination takes up majority of your vacation
Our concept offers a focused experience when people fly to the airport, get the keys to their campers, a short briefing and begin the journey right from that moment!
 

Mykh

Outdoor Party Animal
Thanks a lot!

The base cost of this 2 week-long trip by Altai will be 5500 $ per car
The cost of a “ticket” for our trip is not calculated per person, but for the whole car.
...
Completely makes sense. And thank you for the information.

The site also mentions possessing the Russian equivalent of a "B" drivers license. How do you deal with this for foreigners? i.e. someone like me coming from Canada.
 
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