Altai, an Inspiring Mountain range bordered by four nations

The Altai Mountains of Central Asia are an inspirational backdrop to Mongolia, Siberia, China and Kazakhstan. The Silk Road once passed through these awesome highlands, while today a lone highway follows the old trader's route.

4/6/20242 min read

The Altai Mountains form the northern boundary of Mongolia. There is only one highway through these rugged mountains, so the natural landforms create a practical barrier between Mongolia and Russia. However, one thing that the residents of the two nations do share is a natural admiration for the jagged peaks. From the Mongol side, the popular band Boerte is featured below, singing abound the famed mountain range in a beautiful and poetic song, simply called Altai. Not only does this YouTube video feature captivating music, but also the visuals are quite astounding. Though I live far from the region, it is not hard to see how the stunning topography affects the local culture.

The Altai Mountains feature a golden autumn color in the forest, along with a distinct green river, whose bizarre green hue is caused by "glacial flour", a fine silt created by the slow, grinding movements of glaciers.

A Daunting Mountain Range Where Four Nations Meet

Otyken is a popular and talented Metal-Folk Indigenous band from Siberia. In the following video, which reads in English, as "Altay", they perform an invigorating musical number that has gotten to be quite popular on YouTube. Their accomplice in the this performance is a young DJ, living in the Netherlands, who goes by the name, Ummet Ozcan. The corroboration is a joy to listen to and also contains some great visuals of the region. It also displays high-quality throat-singing and some unusual stringed instruments, common to Siberia and other parts of Central Asia.

As for the lyrics, they seem to reference a collection of deities that define the current religious beliefs for many of the Turkic people. Within this cultural world, the glistening Altai mountains often serves as a cultural center and spiritual retreat.

Few roads penetrate the Altai Mountain Wilderness
Few roads penetrate the Altai Mountain Wilderness

Few roads penetrate the vast Altai Mountain Wilderness

Are the Altai Mtns. the Next Adventure Hot Spot?

If you surf the internet, you will find many travel stories about visiting the Altai Mountains of Central Asia. At present, this area is relatively unspoiled and seldom visited. The political reality in Russia may discourage some possible visitors, but nonetheless, some online information is available about traveling the rugged Chuya Highway that runs from Russia to Mongolia. With titles like 8 Reasons Every Traveler Must Visit Altai Republic, The Altai Mountains: Siberian Switzerland and Mongolia or Bust! Our 500 km journey across the Altai Mountains, who can resist. Actually, under Putin's Russia, most prudent travelers will resist, but Putin can't live forever and someday the Altai region of Russia could be visited by many, for these magical places can't hold their beautiful secrets indefinitely.

P.S. The Altai Republic or region should not be confused with the Altai Krai, which borders the Altai Republic to the east. The Altai Krai has a much more confrontational relationship with Russia proper. One that is sometimes characterized by physical and bloody strife, often resulting in mass imprisonments. Thus far, the Altai region that encompasses the mountains has not seen that kind of violence with Moscow.

Where the Altai Mtns. Form a Southern Border