Pearls of nature
The Tchuiskaya Steppe is a unique natural territory, extremely interesting and exotic for a European traveler from the viewpoint of its landscape, flora and fauna; this is a slightly undulating plain situated at the altitude of 1700-1900 m above the sea level, surrounded by mountain ridges covered with eternal snow. Severe climate, dry and windless, with permafrost ground's thickness from 15 to 90 m, reigns here. The Tchuya River, having changed its tempestuous character to a meandering flow, crosses the steppe. There's practically no vegetation in the Steppe - only rare thorny bushes and wormwood can be seen.
The climate of the Region is continental; average annual air temperature equals -7C, in winter the temperature may fall to -63ŚC. The rated average winter temperature is -45C. Duration of non-frost period constitutes only 68 days a year, in unfavorable years the number may be even less - 30-35 days. The thickness of permafrost grounds constitutes 1,5-50 m. In January, average precipitation amount (in the area of v. Kosh-Agach) is 5 mm, in July - 27 mm; annual amount - 127 mm. V. Kosh-Agach - the center of Kosh-Agachsky Region - is 471 km to the south-east from Gorno-Altaisk. The Tchuisky Highway, being the main motor road, reaches the Mongolian border (v. Tashanta). Bus communication - 3 days a week (on odd-numbered days).
The building of tourist sites with traditional Kazakh dwellings - yurtas - is being planned, as well as the development of itineraries for horse-riding and camel-riding tours. Traditionally, the Tchuiskaya Steppe was thought of as "the world's end" (Kosh-Agach is translated as "good-bye, tree", meaning the last tree before desert). It had an image of a place, where civilization, though a relative one, gives way to solitary desert. A journey to the Tchuiskaya Steppe means a journey to the unknown, exotic, to "the world's end".
Ethnographically, the Tchuiskaya Steppe is of interest as a symbolic border between Altaian settlements and Kazakh villages, starting from Kosh-Agach. In a small modern village Zhana-Aul, a traveler may come across the still preserved and restored traditions of Kazakh culture. Here one may find a museum, a memorial complex, a mosque.
The Tchuiskaya Steppe is rich in archeological monuments - mounds, stone statues, rock carvings (near v. Kosh-Agach and Tashanta). According to the number of monuments, the Tchuiskaya Steppe may be compared to the number of ancient painting of the Sahara, or the south-west of the USA.
There are Alpine tourist complexes Ak-Tru and Ak-Eam.
Beautiful syrmaks (picturesque woolen carpets with patterns-appliques) are manufactured in Kazakh villages Kosh-Agach, Zhana-Aul, Tashanta.
In the middle of the summer 2000, a traditional Altaian holiday "El-Oiyn-2000" was held in the Region. The holiday was organized on the initiative of the Government of the Republic (national games, competitions, folklore performances).