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    Altai Republic

Geography

Altai Mountains

Altay Mountains are one of the most charming and mysterious places in the planet. Altay Mountains and valleys are full of human traces and signs, such as: Scythian barrows, ancient Turkic stone statues, rock paintings and lines of the mysterious runic writing.

The highest mountains in the Altay Republic are in the southwest the Katunsky Range, culminating in Mt Belukha, and the northern Chuisky Range with several challenging peaks topped by 4173m-high Mt Aktru. These areas offer some of the best trekking and climbing in the Altai. According to some Asian legends, the Belukha area is the future location of Shambala, a paradisiacal realm that will come into existence after humanity destroys itself. Others believe that Shambala is a state of heightened energy and awareness induced by supernatural phenomena or inner means or perhaps simply by experiencing the wild beauty of Belukha. The road to Belukha goes through some remote areas, with scattered villages. Near Ust-Kan the landscape changes from forest to beautiful upland meadows framed by hills and bluffs.

The village Verkhny Uymon located in the area has a Nikolay Rerikh House-Museum. This famous Russian artist and thinker spent a big part of his life in the Altai Republic and drew its marvelous landscapes.

At Tolono, on the high bank of the Katun downstream of Tyungur, are some Turkic stone sculptures of warriors killed in the battle, dating from about 500 AD.

Rivers and lakes

Altay is also famous for its rivers and lakes. The Biya and the Katun are the two largest rivers that interflow near the town of Biysk and give start to the Ob River - one of the greatest rivers of the world. The Katun with its tributaries Chuya, Koksa, Kucherla, Argut, Ursul is very popular among whitewater rafters because of thrilling rapids and exciting landscapes. The Biya River has its source in the Teletskoye Lake, which is situated between high ranges of mountains. The Teletskoye Lake with its length of about 80 km, depth of 325 m and volume of 40 cubic kilometers is considered as a symbol of Altai. The beautiful Shavlinskiye Lakes are situated on the Northern slope of the Northern Chuisky Range.

The Utchar ("Inaccessible") Waterfall is situated on the Chulcha River, 10 km from a confluence with the Chulyshman River. The biggest waterfall of Altai with total drop of 160 m was formed about a century ago as a result of a tremendous landslide.

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