17 Spectacular Pictures of Siberia’s Altai Mountains

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Image: Andrew Kudrin

Dawn over Katun River.

The Altai region of southern Siberia is a place of geological wonders and rare biological diversity. The name Altai comes from the Mongolian word for ‘gold’ and ‘mountains,’ an apt moniker considering the ecological value of this UNESCO World Heritage site. Gold was also the colour of the trees and grasses during photographer Andrew Kudrin’s visit in Autumn 2011, which resulted in these stunning photographs.

The Altai is the source for Siberia’s two major rivers, the Ob and the Irtysh. It lies on the boundary between north and central Asia, is divided by four countries, and encompasses terrain, from high mountain ranges down to grassy steppes. Its rugged mountains, thrust up between 500 and 300 million years ago, were shaped by eons of wind, rain, and most of all ice – five glacial periods of it.


Image: Andrew Kudrin

A lake hidden within the golden firs of autumn.

Kudrin says it was the wild beauty he had seen captured in pictures that drew him to visit the Altai. In particular, he wanted to see for himself the snow- capped mountains and glaciers for which the region is famous. Lucky for Kudrin, the Altai was “only 600 km away” (as he puts it) from his home in Siberia.

He explains: “Many people in my city visit it because it’s just about one day by car and you are in wild, beautiful nature. But the most beautiful places are a bit far away, closer to the Mongolian border. You have to go through several passes to get there so there are not too many tourists and a lot of wild, natural beauty. I saw many photos of these lands and really wanted to visit snowy mountains and glaciers.”

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Image: Andrew Kudrin

A stream meets the Katun River, close to one of photographer Andrew Kudrin’s campsites.

And that’s what Kudrin did; he went a bit further into the Altai than most Siberian visitors to reach the most beautiful regions closer to the Mongolian side. His main destination was the Aktru Glacier, a place popular with hikers in the Altai.

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