Altai is the best Russian whitewater-kayaking destination now available for international kayakers.
Kostya Lubyagin from Altai World explains why it is so.
I’ve always been travelling over the world. 15 countries (from Russia to Nepal, Africa and Indonesia) tens of rivers from class III to VI class rivers and I can tell you that Altai has all advantages to become a mecca of not only Russian but international kayaking.
What makes Altai a mecca of kayaking? And why you should come to see it?
The following factors will help Altai to become world famous kayak destination.
Amazingly beautiful land of Mountains, Lakes and Rivers, often called the Russian Alps and Russian Himalayas. 5 Altai`s natural objects are included into UNESCO World Heritage. Belukha Mountain (4,506 m) Russia and Katun river (688km – 428 mi) are the main Altai`s attractions.
Lots of outdoor activities are popular here plus to kayaking. Rafting, mountain and road bike, trekking, horseback riding, off-road, sea kayaking, snowboarding during wintertime.
Altai is a mecca of whitewater kayaking. Various relief, gradient and level of rivers, scenery landscapes, convenient transport accessibility (there are lots remote sections visited by world famous guys and tens of rivers with asphalted roads along) that is what attracts kayakers from Russia of the any experience level. Season here starts at the beginning of May and continues till the end of September. Lakes, rivers of any level from I to VI, rodeo-spots will satisfy any kayaker. Plus the sections are pretty long and you can paddle almost as long as you want or can, not like in the other destinations. Asphalted road goes along of the lots of rivers and the kayak bus comes in 10 meters of the water, so you don`t have to carry your boat and walk with it at all.
Serrasolses brothers, Sam Sutton, Fabian Dörfler, James “Pringle” Bebbington, Egor Voskoboynikov and Alona Buslaeva, Tomass Marnics, Philip Baues, Timo Koster, Thilo Schmitt, Jared Meehan are just a couple of names of world famous athletes who has been here and left lots of videos and reviews about their trips.
There are 2 kayak festivals one in June – Dollarfest (class II-III) and King of Asia in the end of July (class IV-V). Last year Gerd Serrasolses became a winner of King of Asia 2015.
But not only pro-kayakers are paddling here. There are kayak school and tours for beginners and advanced. Altai Rivers have different sections being interesting for every kayaker.
Altai is placed at the junction of four countries: Russia (largest part), Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China. Altai`s neighbors in Russia are Baikal Lake and Sayan. The Chuysky Trakt (federal road, used to be Siberia`s silk road) rambles on for about 1,000 km, starts in Novosibirsk (2,812 km from Moscow) and extends across the Altai Territory and the Altai Republic down to Russia’s border with Mongolia. This is Siberia’s most beautiful asphalt road and it impresses even the most well travelled. National Geographic has included this road into 10 Worlds most beautiful roads (at the sixth place).
Altai is well known destination of any outdoor activity in Russia, so you will find supermarkets, pharmacy, modern hospitals, banks, ATMs, camping, hotels, 3G in all local areas centers.
To come to Altai you will almost always (depending of your country) need a Russian tourist visa. That is usually a milestone; they are feeling uncomfortable with these complex documentation processes.
I can understand these feelings. But it needs to be done what can be done. And we make everything we can do to make these processes easy and smooth for visitors.
After visa reception the only thing you need to do is to purchase a ticket to Novosibirsk from Moscow or from several EU cities like Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Prague or Barcelona (regular direct flights to Novosibirsk). If you plan to fly to Moscow you can Google for a flight to Gorno-Altaysk, this town is 35 km from our camping site, but usually we also help you to choose the right tickets. After you arrive locals care of any logistic during your stay, any transfers are included into the tour cost.
The area has all facilities to make your stay safe. From wide range of good roads, modern ambulance in all towns, mobile telecom and 3G. We have experienced local instructors with IRF safety craft and rafting guide certificates and a possibility to call a helicopter. But of course any visitor should have medical insurance to minimize any risk during the trip.
But the main thing that helps us to keep our tours safe is an attitude and cold head in this cold water.
Words and pictures: Kostya Lubyagin from Altai World