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    Altai
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Main / Expeditions / Tofalariya 2006

Tofalariya 2006

Tofalariya! Outstanding, wonderful, mysterious mountain country of taiga, lost in the heart the East Sayan. It’s a place of wild and severe mountain ranges, created by forces of nature. It’s an almost impassable region of taiga, where trees die from old age, and centenary cedars can shelter a traveler from bad weather. It’s a land of animal paths and pure rivers and streams. It’s easy to come across with a bear, but difficult – with a man. Only about one thousand people live on the territory of more than 21 thousand square kilometers. Less than a half of them are the Tofalars, descendants of a nomadic nation, who domesticated a wild deer many centuries ago.
Only three small settlements – Alygdjer, Verhnyaya Gutara and Nerha – stand apart from the civilization. There are not any roads and you can get there only by aviation or in a sledge during winter. Tofalariya doesn’t have strict borders and is a part of Irkutsk region. There are territories of Tuva to the south and of Buryatiya to the east.
This photoexcursion was held in the frameworks of the project “Genuine nature”, a photogeographical investigation of the remote regions, slightly developed by people.
To get from Nijneudinsk to Verhnyaya Gutara, I had to go 250 kilometres during 24 hours by absolutely impassable road for all cars except soviet “Ural”. Then I went down the Murkhoi river with a group of tourists from Novosibirsk and Omsk. In Verhnyaya Gutara I managed to rent horses and tried an old method of transport. Unfortunately even horses couldn’t pass The Sayan Mountains.
Further the main stage of expedition began – on my own, without any link with the external world. I had to combine the art of photography and the art of surviving. During one and a half months I had worked in the most remote part of the lost Tofalariya. Within this period of time I became familiar with a rather vast territory, the length of the route formed 200 kilometres, with 80 kilograms of products and equipment. In spite of the bad weather I managed to take lots of photos. The working process was disturbed by rains and insects. In the end of August on one of the passes I was covered by snow. Regular and close meetings with bears became usual attribute of living.
Lots of difficulties hindered working process, but so deep diving in genuine world makes possible to become a part of it. You can read about this trip in details in the article “Solo about Tofalariya” (now only in Russian).

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