There are two large regions called Altai: the Altai Republic with the administrative center in Gorno-Altaysk and the Altai Krai with its capital Barnaul. The most famous attractions are in the Altai Mountains, but you can also spend some great days in Altai Krai. Here I am telling you where to go in the Altai Krai to have a great time.
I have to tell you that I've heard the term "terrenkur" (from the French "terrain cours" - health walking) for the first time here. Until that moment I did not know that these are health trails. Maybe because I was never a fan of sanatorium treatments (the main reason everyone comes to the Belokurikha balneological resort), maybe because I prefer to use the term - hiking. There are several trails near Belokurikha with different levels of complexity and length. One rainy day, I took one of trails, which was 2.5km long, to the "Old Mill", and then I took a chair lift to the main attraction - Mount Tserkovka. The 815 meter high mountain was named so, because it looks like a church dome. It’s easy to navigate the trails, and find your way to the picturesque rocks “Two Sisters” and “Four Brothers”. Take some treats with you, the small chipmunks you’ll see along the way are eagerly awaiting for you to feed them some nuts.
Even if you are not a fan of homeopathy or herbal tinctures, I am sure that in Altai you will not be able to resist buying a package of herbs, or at least some thyme for tea. But, if you believe in the healing power of herbs, even just a little bit - you cure a sore throat with chamomile, use herbal mixtures when you feel sick and you know how burdock root can heal - then one day you should definitely get to the village of Altayskoye in Altai Krai, and to "Altai Highlands." This company has been growing herbs and manufacturing extracts for many years. On the territory, there are also a large arboretum, gardens, a tea pavilion, a cafe where you can try burdock soup, and tastings in the shops. You can learn how to make medicinal balms and your own herb mixtures. Every summer in the "Altai Highlands" there’s a food festival called "Ah! Fest."
Basargino looks like it was created in some kind of computer simulation game. And there, on a little piece of land you need to arrange cozy wooden comfortable houses, a farm, a church, a cafe and a restaurant with insanely delicious meals, an apiary, lakes with fish, a chicken coop and pastures. You also should have cows, pigs, goats and sheep. And also wolves and yaks to make the visitors even more delighted.
And then you can open a Siberian deer farm and arrange a spa with antler baths. And invite the best specialists to work for you: guides, rangers, masseurs, chefs and bath attendants. You might also need sly fat cats for this entourage. And put wooden totem poles near the fireplaces. Well, it sounds like an ideal village, and it does exist! The only thing missing here is your grandmother! And you'll have to bring your own, but I am sure she will love it.
There is not a feminine equivalent for a blacksmith, therefore I will simply introduce Anna Biletskaya as the blacksmith. Anna, armed with a heavy hammer and an anvil, is able to forge a horseshoe for a horse in 15 minutes and a decorative horseshoe for luck in only 10 minutes. Well the last one is more in demand lately. Anna opened her smithy to visitors a few years ago. This blacksmith in a skirt shows the whole process during her short master classes: first heat a piece of metal over a fire, then take a hammer and beat it well on the anvil, pull it back, then bend it and put it back into the fire. Finally, cool and clean it.
Well, even after the clear instructions, I could’t hit it twice in the same place and evenly flatten my "future happiness". Anna helped me, but actually did everything for me. She told me the story about how she had chosen this profession, so rare for a woman, and then she told me about her plans and blacksmiths rituals. It turned out, that in Anna’s forge, in addition to forging all sorts of necessary things for household, she can even "forge the love" of a couple. Well, you need to arrange that visit in advance.
A hot bath filled with herbs such as hypericum, yarrow, camomile and also a rejuvenating bathtub - these are the Russian answer to the best Asian spa with plumeria flowers. Well, the Altai version looks more brutal, but you will quickly feel the great effect. The herbs are collected and specially prepared here, in "The Gold of Altai" eco-hotel on the shore of the lake. Bathhouses are warmed up in both old Russian traditional ways: the "black" banya (a smoke goes out of bathhouse through cracks in wooden walls) and the "white" banya (a smoke goes out of the bathhouse through a pipe). The professional bath attendants will help guests adjust the right amount of steam and smack them briskly all over their bodies with special bath brooms. The largest horse farm in this district is also located in the hotel area; you should not miss the chance to ride a horse at least around the local territory.
However, most of the guests of the “The Gold of Altai” like to take a longer horseback ride to the Zateev Log settlement. This is where Maslenitsa (pancake week) is widely celebrated, with festivities, dances and chants, as well as a grand competition for the best doll of Lady Maslenitsa made of straw. You can also visit the museum with the ritual dolls that were saved from burning during the festivities.
The Four Seasons of Russia project is supported by the Russian geographical society www.rgo.ru
A visit Altai Krai is recommended by the Russian geographical society.
The tour operator LB Tour, in Altai, will arrange for you to see the beauty of Altai, to learn about local traditions and have a real adventure LB Tour.
You can see the photo report about Altai Krai and Altai Mountains here.
Also read about Altai:
The Princess of Ukok
The most beautiful places of the Altai Mountains
Looking for a snow leopard
A female Blacksmith: The Mother-anvil
Karakol Valley: Protected by Spirits
Translation: Irina Romanova, Instagram: @astrabella1