Golden Mountains of Altai

Lake Akkem (lower right), at the base of Mt. Belukha

The Golden Mountains of Altai is a region with high plant diversity in Southern Siberia.

The mountains have several undisturbed glaciers and provide the source of main rivers like the Ob. It also holds Teletskoye Lake, the second largest of Siberia after Lake Baikal.

The area consists of:

- Altai Natural Reserve

- Katun Natural Reserve

- Lake Teletskoye

- Belukha Mountain

- Ukok Plateau

The mountains are the habitat of several globally endangered mammals, such as the snow leopard and the Altai argali.


Community Reviews

Carol Hiltner - July 2009

A key reason for the pristine condition of Altai has been the careful stewardship by the aboriginal Altai people. A million tourists per summer, escalating ethnic Russian immigration, bungled federal land privatization, aggressive commercial development projects, helicopter poaching by high officials, and the legacy of Soviet repression have significantly subverted the local ability to even maintain their own culture, and the environment has suffered significantly. As far as I have been able to ascertain, the UNESCO World Heritage Site status is unfunded, and has not been sufficient to protect these incredible lands.

An indigenous Altai cultural resurgence is underway, and global concern is building as numerous international organizations are formed, dedicated to the protection of both the natural and the extraordinary cultural legacy of Altai. I invite correspondence from anyone who is interested.

Jarek Pokrzywnicki - October 2008

Viewed just Teleckoje Lake and a small part of Altaiski Reserve (zapoviednik) but I must admit it is area of outstanding beauty. High mountains, nature not touched by human population, deep lakes and landscapes similar to fiords in Norway. Clear water, no pollution whatsoever, you can use accommodation in Artybash village or some cottages located on Lake shores or even a big camping site on the southern part of Lake. But be sure you reserve that in advance - its quite popular region in the summer so in peak season it may be occupied. One of Russia's must to see.

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Site Info

Full name: Golden Mountains of Altai

Site History


The site has 3 locations.

  • Altaisky Zapovednik and Buffer zone of Teletskoye Lake Altai Republic, Russian Federation
  • Katunsky Zapovednik and Buffer zone around Belukha Mountain Altai Republic, Russian Federation
  • Ukok Quiet Zone on the Ukok Plateau Russian Federation


The site has 22 connections.


  • Famous tapestries The 5th century BC Pazyryk carpet, a product of an Achaemenid carpet production centre, was discovered in 1949 in the Altai Mountains.
  • Petroglyphs 
  • Tumuli The Pazyryk tombs are Scythian kurgans, that is barrow-like tomb mounds of larch logs covered over by large cairns of boulders and stones, dated to between the 6th and 3rd centuries BCE. (wiki)



  • Glaciers AB review - "The presence of the high number of undisturbed glaciers in the nominated area makes it significant as a site for assessing the effects of global warming in mountain ecosystems".
  • Notable lakes Lake Teletskoye
  • On National Border On borders with Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan
  • Siberia 


  • Palaeolithic and Mesolithic "The region has a rich cultural heritage. The first humans appeared in the region almost a million years ago as evidenced by Palaeolithic settlements located in the region of Gorno-Altaisk." (nomination doc)

Human Activity

  • Mummies Pazyryk mummies
  • Natural sites with indigenous human population Altai: The area is sparsely populated with local populations of Russians and Altaisky, a Turkish speaking people, mainly involved in traditional pastoralism, low intensity agriculture, hunting and gathering. (nomination doc)


  • Paleozoic Geologists believe that the mountains were formed in the Caledonian period, but had a secondary rise in the Mesozoic and Cenozoic era. (Wiki)

WHS on Other Lists

World Heritage Process

  • Inscribed on a single criterion only x. to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.
  • Name changes The Nomination file title is "Sources of the Great Ob". IUCN however evaluated it under its inscribed name
  • Potential Transboundary sites China's "China Altai"