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Russian National Parks: Ukok Plateau
July 12, 2019 12:24

WHERE: the south of the Altai Republic, at the junction of the borders of Russia, Kazakhstan, China and Mongolia
PHONE: +7 (38842) 23001, +7 (38842) 22355, +79139969262
How to get to the Ukok Plateau:
Follow the motorway from the village of Kosh-Agach through the passes Warm Key and Kalgutinsky. 

The Ukok Natural Park  is located in the south-east of Kosh-Agach district, near the Taldurinsky glacier, in the Altai Republic, in the southern part of the plateau of the same name. It became a specially protected natural area in 2005. The natural park preserves a unique variety of rare plant and animal species, as well as valuable architectural monuments.

The nature reserve was founded in 1994. In 1998, the most beautiful park in the unified national natural object "Golden Mountains of Altai" was included in the UNESCO list. The zone had the status of a “temporary category” until 2004, and in 2005 the park was classified as a “permanent category”.

More than 150 archaeological sites are concentrated on the plateau. Burials belong to different chronological periods, starting with the Paleolithic.

The borders of Russia, Mongolia (the Sayugem range), China (the Southern Altai range) and Kazakhstan converge on the Ukok plateau. The plateau is famous for its unique nature and archaeological finds.

Residents of Altai believe that spirits inhabit the Mount Tabyn-Bogd-Ola, and the area itself is sacred. Indigenous people believe that there is a mountain world, the second layer of heaven. Scientists believe that the plateau served as a sacred center for Scythians, Huns, and other Central Asian peoples. More recently, so-called geoglyphs have been discovered - drawings that are visible only from the air, which gives reason to talk about the connection of ancient inhabitants of the area with otherworldly forces, extraterrestrial civilizations, phantoms and other unknown phenomena. Now many people consider the Ukok Plateau to be a special place of power.

The area of the park - 254,204 hectares. The plateau is located at an altitude of about 3 km above sea level.

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Finds and sights of the natural park:

Jumalinsky spring: in the baths of radon keys, the water temperature is about 20 degrees almost all year round. Radon is a product of the decay of radium. Its alpha radiation is used to treat a number of diseases: peripheral nervous system, musculoskeletal, vascular, gynecological and other diseases.

The Tabyn-Bogdo-Ola mountain site - “five sacred peaks”. This is a glaciation area; there are 61 glaciers, which occupy an area of 222.3 square meters. The highest point is Nairamdal at an altitude of 4374 meters.

Lakes: Kolzhin-Kol, Kolzhin-Kol-Bass, Muzdy-Bulak, Ukok, Ak-Alaha, Goose, White, Karakolnur, Tarkhatinskoe and others.

Rivers: Ak-Alaha, Kara-Alaha, Kalguts, Jazzator, Ak-Kohl and others.

Monuments of archeology: Bertek petroglyphs on the rock Kyzyl-Tas on the river bank. They depict about 120 characters, and many of them are made in the Iron Age. The figures show objects from the ancient world: hunters and deer, horsemen, camels, dogs, bulls, etc.

Kurgan complexes: Ak-Alaha-3, where the mummy of a woman was found, together with her  six horses. Mounds of Pazyryk culture: in the funerary monuments, thanks to the permafrost, some objects of felt, wood, leather, and cloth have been preserved.

Monuments of the Hun period: funeral and memorial objects (barrows Kaldzhin-6 and Akkol-1). 

Monuments of the ancient Turkic era: Bertek-34, Kaldzhin-8.

Visiting plateau

Before the visit, you should know that there are three zones on the plateau:

A - the reserve zone covers an area of 26,800 hectares. Here, the research activity is allowed and any economic and recreational activity is prohibited. That is, no tents are allowed on the territory, as well as the fire set up, or hunting.

B – this zone with a limited mode of use occupies an area of 39,200 hectares. All visits are strictly regulated.

C - recreation area. On the territory of 186904 hectares excursion, tourist, and economic activities are allowed.

To get to the Ukok nature park you will need the following documents:

Pass to the park - you should register with the park staff. 

Border pass, which must be issued, since the park is located on the border of Russia with Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China. You can get it in Gorno-Altaisk or Kosh-Agach.

Due to the natural focus of the plague on the territory of the Kosh-Agach district, to visit the plateau, you have to be vaccinated against the plague 10 days before the visit. You can do it in hospitals of Gorno-Altaisk and the village of Kosh-Agach.


How to get to the Ukok Plateau

It is very difficult to get to the park and the plateau, the place is not east to reach, so travelers usually prepare for a long hike.

Some tourists prefer to buy a tour, as it will be easier to prepare and arrange all documents as part of an organized group. Travel agencies also offer horse trips.

You can get to the natural park by car: from Gorno-Altaisk follow the Chuisky road (route R-256) through the village of Kosh-Agach. The journey time is about 9 hours, the distance is about 570 km.

The second option: from the bus station of Gorno-Altaisk by bus to the city of Aktash, then about 100 km by car to the village of Kosh-Agach, and from there go towards the Jazzator. The journey time from Kosh-Agach to the plateau is about 2.5 hours.

Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: Russian National Parks ecotourism Russian regions travel to Russia Altai 

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