Day 11: After hiking back down to where Jenia was waiting with the van, we travelled along the Chuisky Highway to Kosh-Agach village (about 110 km). When we got there, we found there was a wedding in progress at the townís administrative buildings.
Khazak wedding in Kosh-Agach on 04/09/04
We needed to ask the officials there where we could find somewhere to stay. There were two hotels in the town, one was not fit for tourists and the other was available when the administrative officials were not using it. We were lucky, they didnít need it!
We waited and watched the wedding spill onto the street and drive around the town in a big noisy procession while Nikolai, Elena and Jenia took the van to find the hotel and confirm that it would be okay for us.
We were not allowed to use the Altaian district presidents reserved rooms, but as he used the same outdoor toilet as everyone else, we didnít mind too much. It was described as rustic, but we were a bit surprised to find that the sink in the kitchen had no taps or plumbing of any kind and to get water there was a hand pump in the middle of the floor which one had to use to keep an urn topped up!
The Chuisky Steppe is a unique nature area, with an exotic landscape, flora and fauna. This is a hilly plain located at the altitude of 1700-1900m above sea level and surrounded by snow-covered mountain ridges. This is a place where civilization gives way to the uninhabited desert. The Chuisky steppe is strewn with archaeological monuments: ancient burial mounds, stony carved images and petroglyphs. The sheer number of these monuments is comparable only with the ancient paintings of the Sakhara or to the South-West of the USA.