Exploring the Karakol Valley

It rained softly on the yurt’s roof all night long, and luckily I didn’t notice the small, quiet drip onto the foot of my bed until morning. After breakfast, we piled into the Gazelle van and slip and skidded in the mud back to the main packed gravel road. Danil led us on a tour…

Read More

Sacred Karakol Valley

After breakfast and a few goodbyes on the morning of the 27th, we set forth on the first leg of our “West-East Transect” excursion. Our group of twelve (nine visitors and an interpreter, leader, and driver) piled into a Gazelle – the equivalent of a large American minivan, but without the comforts. This vehicle was…

Read More

Old Believers, village life, etc.

Traditional Russian singers in Ust-Koksa

After breakfast yesterday, we all piled into the bus and drove 20 minutes east down the valley, crossing over the Katun River and into the village of Verkhniy Uimon (oo-ee-mon’). I’ve been here several times, but it’s always worth another visit. It was settled 300-odd years ago by Russian Orthodox “Old Believers” fleeing repression in…

Read More

Miscellaneous Altai commentary…

Yesterday’s meetings did indeed devolve into discussions, but I missed almost all of it. Well, with the exception of an early brainstorming session about determining the geography of climate change adaptation and a “mega-corridor” for wildlife. Considering that we were discussing the Altai-Sayan ecoregion here in south-central Russia, western Mongolia, China’s Xinjiang Province, and far…

Read More

More Ust-Koksa

During an overly technical set of presentations yesterday afternoon, I took the opportunity to slip out for a walk and talk with a colleague. We set out on the rickety wire suspension footbridge across the Koksa River adjacent to our hotel. I’ve never been fond of these sorts of bridges, the way they bounce and…

Read More

In which I finally reach Altai…

When I reach Altai following the visa debacle, the actual work of the trip begins. In overview, my trip has a number of phases and goals. Overall, I am hoping to meet with as many conservation folk as I can, renewing contact with existing colleagues and cultivating new relationships as well. The first part of…

Read More