13 July 2021.
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Take A Boat Ride Through The Fjord
When arriving to Artybash and its spectacular setting on the shores of Lake Teletskoye, there’s no better way to experience the beauty of the area than by boat.
Spend the day puttering down the narrow expanse of the lake with steep mountain folds and dense forests rising on either side, stop in at remote lakeside villages that are only accessible by water and wander to far-flung waterfalls that lie hidden amongst the trees.
In the peak summer season, ferries depart from two piers on the Artybash side and spend all day snaking slowly to the furthest reaches of the lake. For a full day expect to pay around 1,300₽ (€16) per person, however, you may be able to secure a better deal on arrival at the dock where boats leave frequently throughout the day. You’ll also have the option of a fast but noisy hydro-foil or a large, slow boat so be sure to choose the option that suits your style of travel (I know I’d be opting for the slower boat in a heartbeat!).
In winter when the lake freezes over, these experiences are unfortunately much harder to come by, with snowmobiles being the main mode of transport across the lake. Understandably, these are generally reserved for transporting locals to their villages rather than for tourist joy rides.
Climb To The Viewpoint At Tilan-Tuu
For magnificent views across the northern section of the lake, make a beeline for Tilan-Tuu.
From the bridge, it’s a 4 km walk or drive to the viewpoint. Follow the forest road gradually uphill from the back of town before reaching a steep and steady incline towards the top. Here, you’ll find a large clearing and be rewarded with spectacular vistas overlooking the charming houses in the valley, the bridge arcing gently over the river and a skyline of rugged mountains.
In summer, this area is a must-visit for a birds-eye view of Teletskoye, however in winter, once again, access can be a little tricky.
For the most part, the road is cleared of snow, however on the Sunday I visited, after days of heavy snowfall, other areas simply took priority which meant the path remained impassable. Be sure to check conditions before setting out.
Don’t Miss Sunset (Or Sunrise) Over The Lake
Lake Teletskoye is well known in the region for its wet, moody weather, but when the sun comes out, it’s pretty bloody spectacular.
After a day of meandering between icy forests and snow-covered cabins, there’s no better way to end the day than beside the water, when the sun sinks below the clouds and stains the whitened landscapes in a rich golden hue.
As daylight fades, make your way across the bridge towards Iogach side to catch the light glimmering off the northeastern ridgeline that fringes the lake. Alternatively, if you’re keen for an early start, sunrise on the Artybash side would be equally as beautiful illuminating the mountains.
At the northern end of Lake Teletskoye, twin villages Artybash and Iogach both have options for accommodation, along with a handful of shops and cafes.
Green House | This simple wooden cabin between the trees was where I stayed on my visit to Artybash and it made an excellent spot to cosy up inside and watch the snowfall with a nice hot cuppa. The hosts are friendly and helpful and very kindly called ahead to both bus drivers to ensure I had a seat saved, as well as collected me from the bus stop. They also speak some English which will make planning your visit far easier. Check rates and availability here.
Sokol Guesthouse | One of Atybash’s most popular guesthouses, Sokol is located a short walk from the bridge and offers simple but spacious rooms with private bathrooms and a kitchenette. Many rooms also include an open-air terrace, perfect for enjoying a summer evening outdoors. Check rates and availability here.
O&K Chalet | For families or groups seeking extra comfort, O&K is an excellent choice. The two-bedroom chalet boasts a sublime waterfront location, an indoor fireplace and a balcony overlooking the water. Check rates and availability here.
TOP TIP |
Summer weekends can be incredibly busy here so be sure to book your accommodation well in advance. In winter, many guesthouses shut down or aren’t necessarily prepared for guests so making a reservation or calling ahead is a good idea, if only to let them know that you intend to visit.
Buses travel daily between Gorno-Altaisk and Artybash taking 3 to 4 hours and costing 450₽ (€5.60).
Services depart from the Gorno-Altaisk bus station at 11:30 a.m. and 5:20 p.m., however in winter these are frequently cancelled or replaced by marshrutka or shared taxis which depart from behind the fence at the back of the bus station boarding area. The timetable above the ticket desk should reflect the official departure times, otherwise, your Artybash guesthouse should have all the info you’ll need regarding schedule changes and may even meet you (and your luggage) on arrival at the lake.
The return bus from Artybash departs from the Iogach side of the bridge at 6 a.m. and 4 p.m., though again, these change frequently throughout the year, including being reduced to just one daily service, so it’s best to confirm with your guesthouse on arrival.
If you’re visiting Artybash as an extended side-trip from your Trans Siberian Railway adventure, you can take a direct bus from Novosibirsk to Gorno-Altaisk (9 hours, 1,440₽) or a train from Yekaterinburg or Novosibirsk to either Barnaul or Biysk from where regular buses travel onwards to Gorno-Altaisk.
On my wintery weekend escape to Artybash, I found next to nothing open in this tiny village so if you’re arriving at this time of the year, I’d definitely recommend coming prepared with your own food for the duration of your trip. Most guesthouses have kitchens which makes self catering a breeze!
There are a couple of corner stores selling snacks and basic supplies that open up during the week, and while I saw signs for a number of cafes that I expect would be buzzing in the summer, there were few that I saw open in town during winter.
One cafe that was open for visitors was the wonderfully cosy Chalet Teletskoye (Шале Телецкое), located 2.5km from Artybash, which provided a much-needed respite from my frosty lakeside walk with a delicious hot chocolate and beautiful views.