Chemal Travel Guide

Discover the hidden treasures of Chemal, a remote destination in Western Siberia, through our comprehensive travel guide. Explore the culturally important attractions, natural wonders, hiking and biking routes, food and drink scene, accommodation options, local culture, safety tips, transportation, and nearby destinations.

Introduction to Chemal

Chemal is a picturesque destination in the Altai Republic, which is nestled in the heart of Western Siberia, Russia. Known for its dramatic landscape, rich culture, and historical significance, Chemal offers an authentic travel experience that is off-the-beaten-track.

Located along the Katun River, Chemal is blessed with lush forests, snow-capped peaks, and crystal-clear rivers, making it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts. From hiking and biking to rafting and fishing, there is no shortage of adventure in Chemal.

List of Places to Visit in Chemal

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

  • Chemal Museum: The Chemal Museum is a cultural institution that houses a collection of artifacts, exhibits, and other memorabilia related to the history and culture of the Altai region.
  • Chemal Church: The Chemal Church is a beautiful Orthodox church that was built in the early 20th century. Located on the banks of the Katun River, this stunning church is an architectural masterpiece that is worth visiting.
  • Stone Mushrooms: The Stone mushrooms are a unique rock formation that resembles mushrooms. These rocks are believed to be over 500 million years old and are a fascinating geological wonder.

Natural Attractions of Chemal: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  • Chemal Hydroelectric Power Plant: The Chemal Hydroelectric Power Plant is a dam located on the Katun River. This impressive structure was built in the 1940s and provides electricity to the entire region.
  • Mountain of Faith: The Mountain of Faith is a sacred place for the local Altai people. It is a beautiful mountain with stunning scenery and offers a spiritual experience that is unique to this region.
  • Chuysky Tract: The Chuysky Tract is a scenic road that connects the Altai Republic to the rest of Siberia. This road offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, forests, and rivers.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Chemal

  • Beluha National Park: Beluha National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is home to some of the most spectacular hiking routes in Siberia. With over 7,000 species of plants and animals, this park offers a unique experience that is unparalleled.
  • Altyn Arashan: Altyn Arashan is a popular trekking destination that offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains, glaciers, and hot springs. This trail is suitable for both experienced and novice hikers and is a must-visit for anyone looking for an outdoor adventure.
  • Katun River: The Katun River is a popular destination for kayaking and canoeing. This river offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and is a great way to experience the natural beauty of Chemal.

Best Things to Do in Chemal: Activities and Tours

  • Rafting on the Katun River: Rafting on the Katun River is a popular activity in Chemal. This river offers class IV and V rapids and is a thrilling adventure that is suitable for both experienced and novice rafters.
  • Horseback Riding: Horseback riding is a popular activity in Chemal. This is a great way to explore the surrounding landscapes and to experience the local culture of the region.
  • Fishing: Fishing is a popular activity in the Katun River. The river is home to a variety of fish species, including trout, grayling, and pike.

Week-Long Itinerary for Chemal

Day 1 Explore the Chemal Museum and visit the Stone Mushrooms
Day 2 Trek to the Altyn Arashan Hot Springs
Day 3 Rafting in the Katun River
Day 4 Horseback riding through the Chuysky Tract
Day 5 Hiking in the Beluha National Park
Day 6 Visit the Chemal Church and enjoy the scenic views
Day 7 Fishing in the Katun River

Food and Drink Scene of Chemal

Must-Try Dishes

  • Shashlik: Shashlik is a traditional dish in Russia that consists of grilled meat on skewers. This dish is a must-try in Chemal as it is prepared with the local spices and herbs.
  • Pelmeni: Pelmeni is a type of dumpling that is typically filled with meat or vegetables. This dish is a staple food in Russian cuisine and is a must-try in Chemal.
  • Omul: Omul is a type of fish that is commonly found in the rivers of Chemal. This fish is a delicacy in Siberian cuisine and is a must-try for seafood lovers.

Local Beverages

  • Altai Honey: Altai Honey is a pure and natural honey that is produced in the Altai Mountains. This honey is renowned for its flavor and health benefits.
  • Chaga Mushroom Tea: Chaga mushroom is a medicinal mushroom that is grown in Siberia. Chaga mushroom tea is a popular beverage in Chemal and is known for its health benefits.

Where to Stay in Chemal: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

  • Altai Katun Guest House: This guest house offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains, comfortable rooms, and a friendly staff.
  • Katunskiy Les Hotel: The Katunskiy Les Hotel is located in the heart of Chemal and offers comfortable rooms, a sauna, and a restaurant.
  • Eco-Hotel Altair: This eco-hotel is a unique accommodation option in Chemal, offering comfortable rooms, an organic garden, and a variety of outdoor activities.

What to Buy in Chemal: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

  • Altai Honey: Altai Honey is a popular souvenir in Chemal. This pure and natural honey is produced in the Altai Mountains and is a great way to experience the local flavors.
  • Altai Souvenir Clothing: Altai Souvenir Clothing is a unique and traditional clothing line that is made by local artisans in the region.
  • Chaga Mushroom Products: Chaga Mushroom Products are a popular souvenir in Chemal. These products are made from the medicinal mushroom that is grown in Siberia and are known for their health benefits.

Local Culture and Customs of Chemal

The local culture and customs of Chemal are deeply rooted in the traditions of the Altai people. The Altai people are known for their shamanistic beliefs, traditional crafts, and unique cuisine.

When visiting Chemal, it is important to respect the culture and customs of the local people. It is also important to dress modestly and to ask for permission before taking photographs of people and places.

Best Time to Visit Chemal

The best time to visit Chemal is during the summer months, from June to August. During this time, the weather is warm and pleasant, and the rivers are perfect for outdoor activities. The autumn months (September to October) also offer beautiful foliage and cooler weather.

Do’s and Don’ts of Chemal


  • Respect the local culture and customs
  • Dress modestly
  • Ask for permission before taking photographs
  • Try the local cuisine
  • Explore the natural beauty of the region


  • Disrespect the local culture and customs
  • Wear revealing clothing
  • Take photographs without permission
  • Leave trash in the natural areas
  • Disturb the wildlife

Safety and Health

Safety in Chemal

Chemal is a safe destination for tourists. However, it is important to take precautions when participating in outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, and rafting. It is also important to follow the instructions of the guides and to wear appropriate safety gear.

Health in Chemal

Visitors to Chemal should be up-to-date on routine vaccinations, such as measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.

Getting to Chemal: Transportation Options and Logistics

Airports Near Chemal

  • Barnaul International Airport (BAX)
  • Novosibirsk Tolmachevo Airport (OVB)

Bus Stations Near Chemal

  • Rubezhnoye Bus Station
  • Gorno-Altaysk Bus Station

Other Options

  • Taxi Services
  • Car Rentals

How to Get Around in Chemal

The best way to get around in Chemal is by car or by organized tours. Renting a car is a great option if you plan to explore the region independently, but be aware that roads in Chemal can be challenging. Alternatively, organized tours are a convenient option that allows visitors to see the best of Chemal without worrying about logistics.

Where to Go Next from Chemal: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

  • Gorno-Altaysk: The capital city of the Altai Republic, Gorno-Altaysk is home to several museums, historical sites, and cultural events.
  • Lake Teletskoye: Lake Teletskoye is the largest lake in the Altai Mountains and is a popular destination for boating, fishing, and hiking.
  • Katun Nature Reserve: The Katun Nature Reserve is a protected area in the Altai Mountains that is home to a variety of rare flora and fauna.


Chemal is a hidden gem in Western Siberia that offers a unique travel experience for adventure seekers and nature lovers. From hiking and biking to rafting and fishing, there is no shortage of outdoor activities in Chemal. With its rich history, culture, and natural beauty, Chemal is a must-visit destination for anyone looking for an authentic travel experience.