I am so grateful that you have stepped forward to manage the logistics for our Altai Fellowship. Of course, I will provide you with all the contacts and current information that I can offer, and work with you as much as is necessary and useful. I will send you the correspondence that I have thus far.
I think we may need to spend a night or so in Novosibirsk because everyone may not arrive/leave on the same day. And we may need to buy sleeping bags and food. I usually stay with a friend there, who would be willing to turn over her apartment to us for a fee. She has 3 beds. We could also rent an apartment by the day from a rental business for which I have a phone number. Or, if you have friends in Akademgorodok, that would be great too.
My main partner Svetlana in Altai divides her time between Gorno-Altaisk and Tyungur village in Ust Koska district. She has an extensive network of contacts that she is very willing to access to support our efforts. We are welcome at her home in G-A, or we might be able to find a small hotel.
My guidance is that we are to go first to sacred lands in the Kosh Agach district for several days. Svetlana’s immediate response was that this would be the Ukok Plateau. I myself have not been there, but the photos I have seen are of a high-altitude steppe. I know two shamans in Kosh Agach who may join us, but Svetlana suggested that we first contact Maya who works at the Ukok Park. From her, we will need help in getting the border permits, plus any logistical support she can offer. I have not met Maya personally, but we have mutual friends, and I have already written her.
My guidance is that, after that, we go to Ust Koksa town for a day or two (maybe for showers and a bit of comfort). My friends Leonid and Tais Bolgov (son/mom) own a comfortable small hotel there, and are the keepers of almost 100 of my original paintings. And then on to Tyungur, where we can camp, and/or use the facilities at Vysotnik Turbaza. No reservations will be required in Tyungur. Svetlana will meet us there.
A border permit is also required for Ust Koksa district, and I think it must be a different one than for Kosh Agach, because invitations from inside the district are required. The Vysotnik tourist base in Tyungur would probably be the best source for those border permits. They have an office in St. Petersburg. http://www.altai-info.com/info/contacts.html. Galya Lebedeva, the camp manager, will remember me.
Border permits must be applied for by an agent within the district that we wish to visit (thus the need for help from Maya and Galya). Applications must be made at least two months before the planned arrival. The border patrol prefers that group applications are made when possible, so we will probably want to make arrangements now, but then get finalized group lists and documents to our “hosts” around the first of May, to give them time to process the paperwork.
Regarding transportation, my guidance is to go with public transportation as much as possible. A full taxi is not significantly more expensive than the regular mini-buses, so those might be our best bet. I don’t think we want to pay for a driver to be with us the whole time, but if you prefer that, I can recommend a driver (or two).
Regarding camping: I have a 4-6-person tent, a 2-person tent, and a 1-person tent, and a large tarp already in Altai. I have cookpans, a couple of water jugs, and a small stove that can use automotive gasoline. A wonderful new high-efficiency camp stove is supposed to be on the market this spring, so if I can get one, I’ll have that too.
Regarding food: I bring much of my food from the US, because it’s easier to bring it than find it there. For camping, we’ll need food that’s easy to prepare. When I trek, I eat brown rice and red lentils, livened up with freeze-dried veggies. Brown rice red lentils can be reliably purchased in Novosibirsk. I bring most of the freeze-dried veggies from the US, because I need the light weight and instant cooking when I trek. However, by August, we should be able to get summer vegetables locally. I also bring yummy instant freeze-dried pea soup and bean soup from the US. I also bring a little fish packaged in foil, and I make chicken jerky by drying chicken breasts in the oven. I myself have such specific dietary needs that I will take care of my own food, but I’ll be glad to help you put together at least a tentative menu for the group if you wish. Outside of Gorno-Altaisk, there is very little food commercially available, although we may be able to negotiate with farmers in the villages.
Regarding what to bring: The only change I would recommend from the list prepared for my trekkers (at www.AltaiMir.org/trekinfo.hitm
I haven’t heard back from anybody else if they have Aeroflot/Delta frequent flier miles to add to my ~35,000 to get Daniel Brower to Altai. We’ll need at least 95,000.
If you would like to have a phone or skype conversation about any of this, please feel free to call.