Chuyskaya steppe is even more high-mountain. More precisely, it is the most high-mountain steppe in Russia (from 1700 m (5577 ft) up to 2000 m (6562 ft) above sea level). It is also the most high-mountain steppe in the world! Furthermore, it is the driest place in Russia.
The climate of Chuyskaya steppe is even more severe – the scorching sun, endless winds and cold spells. Apart from horses, there can be seen camels (the only place in Russia).
The Denisova Cave
Altai is an extraordinary place, which is almost impossible to pass by while travelling from east to west and vice versa. The Denisova Cave, which is located there, is truly unique. Due to its specific properties, it was fit for living and has been used by different species of humans (Neanderthals and modern humans) for near 300 thousands of years. It is the very place, where a few years ago a new species of human, a Denisovan, was discovered! The DNA analysis of the found finger fragment showed that it was a completely new species of human, which could not be classified either as a Neanderthal or as an ancestor of modern humans. Only thanks to cold climate, scientists were lucky to find the remains of the ancient DNA!
Denisovans differed from modern humans far more than Neanderthals. In simple words, the difference between Denisovans and modern humans or Denisovans and Neanderthals are twice as much as the differences between Neanderthals and modern humans.
Have Denisovans become completely extinct? It seems they have not. The indigenous peoples of Australia and some neighboring islands share a small percentage of genes with Denisovans.
Surely, one article cannot describe all the beauty of Altai. The Ukok plateau (the place where the Altai Princess was found), the sacred island Patmos with the Church of St. John the Divine, which can be reached through a suspension bridge, the Akkurum district, where famous “stone mushrooms” are situated… The list of beautiful and unique places in Altai is immense. Some of them are little-known, but striking to everyone who has seen them.
It is hard to describe the aroma and taste of the Altai honey, collected by industrious bees from the grass in valleys and hillsides. The Altai honey will be a marvellous souvenir.
Amulets and talismans, traditionally made by peoples of Altai, will also become remarkable presents.
The Altai Mountains are rich in rare minerals, which are often used to produce real masterpieces.
The way to travel
Firstly, you can come to Altai as a common tourist and go through popular tourist routes.
However, if you are lucky to rent a car (definitely an all-wheel drive vehicle) and travel independently or with a personal driver, you will get an unforgettable experience.
Secondly, you can choose a point of interest and book a room in the so-called “green house” (a small house with all conveniences and meals included), then you are free to walk around, go fishing or riding.
Thirdly, you can restore your health near mineral water springs, for example, in Belokuriha.
Perhaps, ancient people were wrong to think that Tibet was a door to a mystical country. Perhaps, Altai is that door, which shows the way to self-understanding.
Photo by Andrey Grachev