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About the Reserve

 Snow-capped mountains, roaring rivers, azure blue lakes laced with magnificent lush forests and tundra – this image of the Altai Republic is very dear to our hearts and makes them beat faster for it is a true image of our motherland. 

The Altaiskiy State Nature Reserve was established in 1932 on the right shores of the Teletskoye Lake and in the upper reaches of the Chulyshman River to keep the pristine nature of Gorny (Mountain) Altai safely intact.  

Much water has flown into the Ob River originating in the territory of the Reserve. The Altaiskiy Reserve was closed and reestablished twice, and each time its territory diminished.  Nonetheless, covering a total area of 881,238 ha, it still remains one of Russia’s largest reserves. Even from the top of its highest mountain Tashkaly-Kai (3,504 meters above sea level) the eye can’t embrace the whole territory of the Reserve – it stretches from north to south for over 200 km.  A flight above the Reserve gives a wonderful view of this true realm of lakes – the Reserve is home to 1,275 lakes, not counting the small ones covering a territory of less than a hectare!  The largest of them and one of the largest reservoirs in Southern Siberia - Lake Teletskoye - is 77.8 km long, 5.2 km wide and 325 m deep.  The border of the Reserve splits the lake in half which makes the stunningly beautiful Altyn-Köl (the other name of the Lake, the Altaic for “the Golden Lake”), poetized in Altai legends, open to tourists. The Reserve’s second largest Dzhulukul Lake is 10 km long. Located in the upper reaches of the Chulyshman River, it overlooks the territory from the height of 2,200 km above sea level.

Dominating alpine landscapes is one more characteristic feature of the Reserve perfectly seen from the air.  Alpine tundras, alpine and sub-alpine meadows cover two thirds of the territory. The rest of the territory is taken by forests predominantly made up of conifers – larch, cedar and silver fir.   Located at the junction of mountain systems of Altai, Kuznetsk Alatau, Western Sayan and Tyva, the Reserve’s territory boasts exceptionally unique biocenosis diversity. 

It is almost next to impossible to name all species making up this diversity. The key endangered flora and fauna species protected by the Reserve are: Allium altaicum, Siberian adder’s-tongue, Rheum altaicum, Galium paradoxum, Demoiselle Crane (Anthropoides virgo), Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug), Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus), Osprey  (Pandion haliaetus), Snow Leopard (Uncia uncia), Altai Argali, just to name a few.  Altai Argali deserves special attention. The largest of all wild sheep subspecies, Altai Argali is also the rarest of them all. Altai Argali is found in the southern part of the Reserve and without proper protection on adjoining territories, conservation of this unique animal can’t be guaranteed.

There are a lot of historic sites in the Reserve: standing stones and stone warriors (Obos), burial mounds (kurgans), irrigation systems, etc. Traces of culture left by people that inhabited the territory of the Reserve at different times are an integral part of the Reserve’s complex.  The unrivalled beauty of the Altai Mountains makes them unique and we are proud to have this pristine nature sanctuary – a true pearl of the Altai Republic and Russia – protected by the Altaiskiy Reserve. 



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