Tag Archives: altai
After passing the Akkem rapid, we had another day of pure meditation and contemplative activity, which was only occasionally interrupted by the helmsman’s commands: “let’s paddle a little”, “let’s move to midstream”, “there’s a hole in the riffle, wanna go for it?”
After the Shyoki rapids, the Katun turns into a relatively calm river and stays that way for a full 200 kilometers, where the river’s smooth (though fast) current is only rarely interrupted by short stretches of riffles. All around there are mountains, lush forests and fields, and not a single person in sight for kilometers – except for us . We didn’t even see any wild animals except ducks, and some local type of nettas or cormorants occasionally flew back and fore along the river.
Our raft with the tourists on board splashed down the river, the captain was silent – there were no orders to paddle – so we enjoyed the sights and landscapes as we floated along. The sun came out, warmed us and looked down on us from above. So we fell into meditation and nirvana…
Before, when I heard the words Katun River or just ‘Katun’, I imagined rapids and rafting. It was the first thing that came to mind. Now, that idea is set in stone after more than 400km of rafting, scores of rapids, several dozen riffles and goodness-knows how many thousand paddle strokes. But Katun no longer just means rafting and water – it’s a place of sublime beauty.
But more on that a bit later. First, we need to actually start rafting. For instance, like this:
This had never happened before – but here it is, happening again (с).
Who would pass up the chance of flying in a chopper over sharp peaks and deep ravines? Not to mention flying for the first time over Belukha, plus a chance to get all your rafting gear up to the Katun river head!
But why use words? This is a place for viewing pics, not reading words…
Our first destination was mount Belukha. It’s famous – but only in certain circles. And that’s a pity, because the place is absolutely stunning! Beautiful, monumental, enormous. There’s snow, glaciers, colorful rocks, bright greenery, white rivers (“glacial milk”) and white foamy mountain waterfalls with the purest, tastiest ice-water. But we decided to begin with the Stone Town – a cult place of interest for connoisseurs and fans of Roerich and his secret forces of nature in search of an Altai Shambhala. A short walk along the Jarl gorge brings you to the stream of the same name (see here).
Altai ranks up there as one of the most fascinating and magical places on earth.
It’s not only beautiful – there’s something about the place. It might be some sort of special energy in the rocks there or something else unbeknown to us. Here the colors are brighter, the water tastes better, the grass is greener, and the mountains contrast more with their surroundings. This year I was lucky enough to spend three weeks in Altai with a group of like-minded adventurers. We hiked, choppered, and rafted (down the Katun River).
In all we walked about 70 kilometers to Lake Akkem and then around it, flew around mount Belukha in a helicopter, flew up to the headwaters of the Katun and rafted down to the lower reaches of the river – almost 400km (four HUNDRED kilometers!!) in all, and descending over a kilometer along the vertical axis. This was my ‘summer holiday’.