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Altaisky Reserve

Region: Altai 

Republic of Altai, Turachaksky region

 Altaisky zapovednik has existed since 1932, and has a very turbulent history: the area that the reserve covers has been changed several times, and twice it was closed down completely, only to be later reopened. At the present time it is one of the largest reserves in southern Siberia, covering an area of over 880 thousand hectares (it had originally covered 1.3 million hectares), and with an average width of ~35km it stretches 250km from the south to the north.
The uniqueness and diversity of the territory has received international recognition: together with Katunsky zapovednik, the Ukok Quiet Zone, Lake Teletskoye and the buffer zone around it, Altaisky zapovednik is part of 'The Golden Mountains of Altai', a World Natural Heritage site.

Geographical highlights
Along the borders of the zapovednik there are high mountain ranges. In the north there is the Abakansky range, in the south the Chikhacheva range, and in the east the Shashalsky range. To the west the territory is bordered by the valleys of the Chulishman river, Karakem river, and Lake Teletskoye. There are several separate mountains located at the heart of the zapovednik, the highest of which is mount Bogoyash (3143m).
Many of the rivers in the reserve are exceptionally beautiful, with strong rapids and swells, as well as peaceful stretches and waterfalls. The largest waterfall in Altai is located on the Chulcha river, it is called 'nepridostupni' ( or 'impregnable'), and is 150m high. In the lowest sections of the various rivers there are steep slopes covered with dense forest, their riverbeds are covered with stones, and the average speed of the water-flow is 2 to 5 meters per second.
There are 1190 lakes in the reserve. The largest and most well known of these are Lake Dzhulukul, situated at 2200 metres above sea level, and Lake Teletskoye, also known as Altin-Kol, or the 'golden lake'. As a result of its great depth, Teletskoye has a huge quantity of pristine, clean and highly oxygenated fresh water.
The topography of the area and the way air mass is moved around cause significantly varied climactic conditions in an overall continental climate. The northern region is distinguished by a warm, humid summer, and a snowy, relatively gentle winter. In the south the climate of the reserve is more severe, with winter frosts reaching temperatures as low as -30є C.

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Flora and Fauna
The vegetation of the zapovednik consists of forests, mountain-top tundra, meadows, marshes and steppes. Forests occupy more than 45% of the area of the reserve, and consist of a mix of firs and sections of cedar, with a small amount of pine and spruce forest. There are certain cedars which are 600 years old here. There are around 1500 varieties of plant amongst the flora of the Altaisky zapovednik, many of which are endemic and relics. These include dendranthema vyemchatolistnaya, bladder locoweed, Siberian adder's-tongue and sedge.
The harsh environmental contrasts of the region have a profound effect on the diversity of wildlife found here. Here you can find animals from high altitudes, such as reindeer and willow grouse, animals native to the Mongol steppe, like the grey marmot, and also many types of 'sphaerites'. Predators include the brown bear, lynx, wolverine and sable.
Among the birds that are found in the reserve are wood grouses, hazel grouses, golden eagles and black storks. In Lake Teletskoye and her tributaries there are graylings, taimen and lenoks.

What to see
The only way into the reserve is through Lake Teletskoye, so you will definitely have the chance to get to know and appreciate 'Altin-Kol' (the golden lake). Kazakh explorers gave the lake its Russian name in the 17th century, and it comes from the name of an Altaisky tribe which lived on the banks of the lake.
In the zapovednik there are several interesting paths, among them routes to 'korb' ridge, to 'kisht', 'korb' and 'nepridostupni' waterfalls, and to Lake Holodnoe. 'Korb' waterfall is 12.5 metres high, and is one of the most beautiful in the zapovednik. It is found about half way around the lake and has great views of the area as well as information stands.

Sources: oopt.info and zapoved.ru

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