Khakassia | Trip across Siberia

If all your life you’ve wanted to visit Siberia, then these posts are written to motivate and inspire you.

And of course, I’ll start from the very beginning.

Every year we try to go somewhere by car, and usually we choose the southern Siberian regions because of beautiful mountains. Last summer we happened to go through 5 regions with different mountain ranges:

  • Kemerovo Oblast with Kuznetsky Alatau;
  • Republic of Khakassia and Tyva Republic with West Sayan mountains (and Abakan range as part of it);
  • Altai Republic and Altai Krai with Altai mountains

Map and short video about our trip there – Travelling across Siberian regions

It’s a road to Novokuznetsk, one of the major cities in Kemerovo Oblast. For some reason, many roads leading to different Russian cities were often planted with high trees like poplars. Nowadays many of them cut down.

Road to Novokuznetsk, Kemerovo oblast

All the previous years we went on trips without tents (first year we just didn’t have them, then realized that sleeping in a car may be much more comfortable and sometimes safer).

Sleeping in a car while travelling

Relying on the majority of maps (some of them may contain controversial information), these hills are the southern part of Kuznetsky Alatau. By the way, the highest point of this range is 2211 metres, it stretches for 300 km from south to north, and its width varies up to 150 km.

Mezhdurechensk surroundings

There exist a good road from Novosibirsk (our initial point) to Republic of Khakassia, but it’s 300km longer (and we never choose easy ways).

The short way from Kemerovo Oblast to Khakassia

So, we chose this one. And unexpectedly met a couple of crazy people on our way.

The short way from Kemerovo Oblast to Khakassia

According to maps and some sources, in the south Kuznetsk Alatau merges into Abakan range, a part of West Sayan mountains. I feel like this place must already be Abakan range. But who cares?

Abakan range views

Here we already left the thickets of Khakassia and made our way to a small town Vershina Tyoya.

Road to Vershina Tyoyi (also called Vershina Tei), Republic of Khakassia

The major local enterprise — iron mine. Its giant mounds are seen even when driving through the main street of the town (the next photo).

Vershina Tyoyi surface mine

The town and its main street. Actually, it’s called an urban-type settlement, what means it’s something between a village and town.

Vershina Tyoyu (also called Vershina Tei), Khakassia

Here we are! The beauty of Khakassia, not far from Askiz village, accompanied by amazing sunset.

Abakan range on the right. West Sayan Mountains.

Sunset in Khakassia, Askiz area

A typical Russian village.

Sunset in Khakassia, Askiz area

Sunset in Khakassia, Askiz area

The area is calm and safe, so we decide to stay not far from the village.

Sunset in Khakassia, Askiz area

The only problem is cows walking everywhere and leaving lots of “traces” (you know what I mean).

The same cows came to the meadow early in the morning searching for food. It was about 4 or 5 am. Our friends’ dog saw them in a window and decided to give us an alarm: he was sure we had to know about the intruders.

Rest during Siberian roadtrip

Rest during Siberian roadtrip

Next morning and day. So calm and like-at-home feeling.

Morning in Khakassia rural area

Morning in Khakassia rural area

Morning in Khakassia rural area

Khakassia rural area, village

Khakassia rural area and West Sayan view

Cows already mentioned above. It’s ok for rural areas.

Khakassia rural area

West Sayan Mountains and a highway to the border with Tyva Republic (located at Sayan mountain pass).

Khakassia and West Sayan view

Wikipedia says that the most area of West Sayan is occupied by mountain taiga.

Abakan range (part of West Sayan mountains), Khakassia

A few days ago I also encountered an interesting article — Southern Siberian rainforest — that describes this area as a temperate rainforest (what is unusual for our location). According to different authors, it represents a mix of hemiboreal and forest steppe ecotones with annual precipitation of ~500-1500mm. All these complex words mean that the area is located between two geographical zones with different climates, flaura and fauna, what explains its climate and biodiversity.

  1. *Hemiboreal = predominance of coniferous trees deluted with deciduous species
  2. **Forest steppe ecotone = grassland mixed with forests

River Bridge

Hm. A bit strange type of highway bridges that we met throughout the region. Before that moment I saw only railroad bridges of a similar construction.

River Bridge

River in Khakassia

Siberian beauty.

River bank among the mountains, Khakassia

River bank among the mountains, Khakassia

The Sayan mountain pass, height is about 2200 meters (coordinates: 51°42′05.7″N 89°53′15.4″E). This pass is an important part of Tyva transport system that connects remote settlements with the rest of West Siberia.

Sayan mountain pass between Khakassia and Republic of Tyva

Sayan mountain pass between Khakassia and Republic of Tyva

Sayan mountain pass between Khakassia and Republic of Tyva

Leaving Khakassia, we were excited! At first. But in a few minutes, we felt a bit uncomfortable because some unpleasant rumors about Tyva started to get confirmed. But it is a story for the next post.

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0 Comment

  • Hi Tanya

    Thanks for such a nice article. Khakassia is very beautiful! I visited this area in 2007 also in a 4×4, driving from Kosh Agach to Khandagayty. I found Tuvans to be very wild and sometimes unpleasant people. Very different from Mongolians or Kazakh people in Altai Republic. This year I want to make the journey you have done here, starting in Mezhdurechensk, then to Askiz, and up across the pass to Ak Dovurak, then Kyzyl, Abakan, Krasnoyarsk. I am looking forward to reading your next post.

    Best wishes,


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