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Published on May 18, 2012
http://www.euronews.com/ In the south of Siberia, where Russia comes together with Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China, lie pristine lands where people try to live in harmony with nature. In this issue of "Russian Life" we travel to Altai.
The landscape is striking. Taiga, tundra and deserts surround the snowy mountains. This diversity is shaped by the Altai mountain range that stretches for nearly 2,000 kilometres between two climate zones. So all kinds of nature lovers come to Altai, including paragliders.
"When I tell people I'm sorry for the lack of decent roads around here, many reply - that's fine, better keep it that way, we're fed up with driving on tarmac, there's nothing wrong with a little walk," explains Vladimir Milov, a paragliding instructor
Some come for trekking and hiking, others for fishing or rafting in the rivers fed by Altai glaciers, for climbing or horse riding.
This pristine Altai nature was cherished as sacred by nomadic peoples who inhabited these lands from ancient times. The local tribes, followers of Shamanism, worshipped spirits they saw in mountains, rivers, trees and everywhere in nature.
Ludmila Menyailova is a guide at the Novotyryshkino Heritage Centre. "Altaians have always said that in every living plant there is a spirit, a soul, and for them that was essential," she says.
The locals still preserve some of this reverence. Though several areas are now being turned into huge resorts, most of the region remains untouched by civilisation. The horse is still the usual means of transport on roads which are impassable for most vehicles.