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.
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).
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.
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).
So, we chose this one. And unexpectedly met a couple of crazy people on our way.
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?
Here we already left the thickets of Khakassia and made our way to a small town Vershina Tyoya.
The major local enterprise — iron mine. Its giant mounds are seen even when driving through the main street of the town (the next photo).
The town and its main street. Actually, it’s called an urban-type settlement, what means it’s something between a village and town.
Here we are! The beauty of Khakassia, not far from Askiz village, accompanied by amazing sunset.
Abakan range on the right. West Sayan Mountains.
A typical Russian village.
The area is calm and safe, so we decide to stay not far from the village.
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.
Next morning and day. So calm and like-at-home feeling.
Cows already mentioned above. It’s ok for rural areas.
West Sayan Mountains and a highway to the border with Tyva Republic (located at Sayan mountain pass).
Wikipedia says that the most area of West Sayan is occupied by mountain taiga.
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.
- *Hemiboreal = predominance of coniferous trees deluted with deciduous species
- **Forest steppe ecotone = grassland mixed with forests
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.
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.
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.