Yergaki Nature Park and hanging stone of the Western Sayan Mountains
Ergaki is a unique natural complex, which received the status of a park of national importance, it combines the natural beauty of the Sayan Mountains and a developed tourist infrastructure.
Ergaki as a tourist destination is a phenomenon not yet very common in Russian tourism. Yergaki is easy to get to and has a developed tourist base that can attract different types of tourists.
For most travelers, the most important thing in travel is the ease of travel, the reachability of the tourist site and the comfort of accommodation. Usually sharks of tourist business prefer to siphon money from the attractiveness of natural sites, not really investing in the development of services. As a consequence, Russians are unaware of the richness of the country’s tourist potential, due to which the bulk of Russia’s natural attractions are available only to a narrow circle of extreme travelers.
Fortunately, Ergaki is another story.
What are Yergaki?
In the cadastre registers of lands of the Russian Federation, Ergaki is listed as a natural park in the south of the Krasnoyarsk region in the Western Sayan, the tourist center of Yergak-Targak-Taiga, a mountain range located at the junction of the eastern and western Sayan.
Do not believe the cadastres. In fact, Yergaki is a fantasy country, because such landscapes and such starry skies simply cannot exist in the real world. Only in Yergaki could the actions of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings take place. The film’s director made a mistake by choosing New Zealand as the location. To see for yourself, just look at the photos taken in Yergaki. The mountain peak Dragon’s Tooth is a typical Minas Tirith, the legendary fortress of Gondor. Giant trees are the sleeping Ents. Only through the icy mountains of Yergak could the hobbit Frodo get to Mordor, to Sauron’s lair.
And it’s good that in this fantasy world there are islets of reality in the form of tourist bases, hotels and ski slopes. Because, once you’re immersed in a fairy tale, it’s very hard to go back to the familiar world.
A little bit of the park’s history
For many thousands of years no one knew about Ergaki, so uninhabited and wild was the edge of the Western Sayan. Probably, there were people there, but their criteria of beauty assessment were very different from the modern ones, so no significant settlements have ever appeared there.
In 1949, three Krasnoyarsk artists set out on a journey in search of nature for their new paintings. Upon reaching Yergaki, then referred to on maps as Irgaki, they realized that the best scenery in the world simply can not find. They brought home sketches of the paintings and stories that became famous. Since then, people have been flocking to the Ergaki – first desperate daredevils, then mountaineers, who have discovered many peaks worthy of climbing here. Since the 70s of the last century Yergaki became a popular tourist destination for the residents of the Krasnoyarsk region and adjacent areas. Gradually tourist bases and health camps appeared there, and in 1999 the Yergaki territory was declared a Natural Park of National Significance.
Nature and weather
Yergaki is an area with relief characteristic of medium-sized mountains. Accordingly, the types of vegetation are divided according to the altitude at which they spread. Coniferous taiga passes into subalpine meadows, and those in turn – into high-altitude tundra.
The territory of the Nature Park itself is not very big and is about 80 km long and 70 km wide.
The weather is not stable, characterized by frequent precipitation in the form of rain or snow, depending on the season. In summer it is not hot, the average temperature is about 15 ° C during the day. At night the temperature is 10 degrees below. In winter the frost can reach – 40 ° C.
Important: Tourists who plan to take long trips must be equipped with waterproof shoes and clothes, minimal set of dishes, first-aid kit and food. Backpack capacity for a five-day hike should be 60 liters. In such backpack will hold everything you need. Weight of a packed backpack will be about 30 kg. Count your strength.
How to get there
There are different ways to get to Ergaki. The main thing is to get to the federal highway M54. The highway crosses the entire length of the Nature Park. You can go from Krasnoyarsk, Novosibirsk and Minusinsk. From all these cities there are daily bus shuttles to Yergaki. Experienced tourists recommend to go from Abakan, without saying why. Perhaps there are more public transport from Abakan to Yergaki, or maybe the Abakan bus, shuttle and cab drivers were quicker, having invested in advertising.
Where to stay
There are Yergaki recreation centers along the route, as well as organized tent camps. There are three stops in Yergaki, all with very picturesque names – the Tushkanchik River, the Bridge of Tormozok and the Podyemny Stream. It all depends on the route you choose. If you don’t have a car of your own you can leave it at the paid parking lot near the trailhead or at the camping site if you stay there.
Recreation centers are mostly standard, with a typical set of services. There are rooms, small houses, cafes, dining rooms, bathhouses and bathrooms. The toilets are warm, which is especially appreciated by tourists during severe frosts. The bases are equipped with ski slopes with ski elevators. Ski and snowboard rentals are not available everywhere, but they are developing.
Ergaki recreation base is a hotel and separate cottages. The resort can accommodate up to 300 guests. There are two restaurants and cafes, several baths such as sauna and Russian sauna. The cost of living in the guest houses is 5000 RUR per day. There are also cheaper options:
- accommodation on the decking – 120 RUR per day.
- In 8-person cottage or mobile module 500 RUR per day.
Spyashny Sayan recreation center is a large tourist complex that accommodates its guests in guest houses and standard and family rooms. The base has cafes and restaurants. The cost of accommodation – from 800 RUR to 4000 RUR per day depending on comfort.
Snezhnaya base has the best ski slope in Yergaki. Accommodation for 800 RUR per day in cottages for 6 and 8 people. Skiing is free of charge.
To use the elevators cost 80 RUR.
In Volny Gorod and Kamenny Gorod tent camps you can rent a tent. Kitchens, toilets and showers are shared. You can use a camping trip or you can camp by yourself. The cost of a tour with accommodation in a tent camp is up to 15000 RUR for 2 weeks. The price includes accommodation, transfers and tours with a guide.
Lovers of wilderness recreation do not need tourist bases. Therefore, along the highway and further, to the heart of the Ergaki Mountains, one can see lonely tents, sticking out like mushrooms. Of course, tents are cheap and cheap, but in the cool climate is not very convenient. In addition, no one cancels the visits of local bears to the tents. But it is the risk of the tourist. The administration, as they say, is not responsible for this.
What to do a tourist
About the leisure of those who stay at the tourist recreation center, will take care of the administration. Tourists, depending on the season, are offered a variety of programs. In winter – skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, and hiking in the area accompanied by a professional guide.
In summer, instead of skiing – horseback riding and hiking tours to natural monuments, lakes and mountains.
For your information! For tourists who want to be close to the mountains and away from civilization, the best place to stay will be the tent camps on the lakes Svetloe and Raduzhnoe. From them you can go out every day for small hikes in different directions. In the evenings you will be able either to stay in your tent or take part in the social life. In the best Soviet tradition, the camps have morning exercises, contests, and sing-alongs around the campfire.
Numerous cliffs and mountain peaks of the Park are a real paradise for both beginners and experienced climbers. Moreover, several times all-Russian mountaineering championships were held in Ergaki. And no matter how many mountains have been climbed, Yergaki still have a lot of possible mountain routes, where no one has ever set foot.
Attractions of the park
The Yergaki do not have any man-made sights. But they are not needed there, because even Taj Mahal would look miserable and useless on the background of the Sayan mountains.
Of the natural sights, it is worth seeing:
Artist’s Pass overlooking the Taigish River. It is said to have been named after the three discoverers. The Ergaki were known long before the artists set out on their trek. But they were the first to appreciate the beauty of the region. After all, artists see differently than geologists. Maybe geologists could estimate the beauty, but people believed the artists. No wonder. From the pass one can see all the objects included in the Yergak trails.
The parabola is two rocks that form a visual tandem. Between the rocks there is a filigree cofferdam, thanks to which the outlines of the inter-rock pass turn into a perfect parabolic line. If people engaged in artistic creation go to the Artists’ Pass, then, in theory, mathematicians should go to the Parabola for worship. After all, Parabola is the only monument to the exact sciences, especially since at the foot of the rocks is located a perfect rectangle – the Lake of Mountain Spirits. The cliffs have another name, Brothers.
The Lake of Mountain Spirits is a typically elvish name. There is even a legend that the Lake is the place where the treasure of an evil sorcerer is hidden. By witchcraft, he turned two brothers into rocks and left them to guard the hidden treasure forever. This legend raises a natural question for meticulous tourists – where did the Yergak legends come from, if there has never been a permanent population or even a trace of them in the park. Most likely, the ancient legends have a quite modern origin and their authors are quick-tempered managers of travel agencies.
The Pikantny Pass and Zvezdny Peak. If everything is clear with the Zvezdnyi Peak because of the height of the peak, the name of the pass leads tourists to certain thoughts. It is possible that once upon a time the pass had not quite modest entertainment of travelers. However, this is only speculation.
The Sleeping Sayan is a true miracle of nature. True, esotericists are trying to attribute an extraterrestrial origin to the Sleeping Sayan. This version is easy to believe. The rock in the form of a sleeping man, reproducing in every detail the outlines of a human face, hair falling off the head, torso and arms makes an indelible impression. Sexually liberated travelers in some angles see even intimate details of the Sleeping Sayan.
The Hanging Rock is Yergak’s answer to the Tower of Pisa. A huge multi-ton granite lies on the rock in an inclined position, held by only one touching point. It is said that numerous experimenters have tried to rock it and bring it down so often that all the micropores in the touch point are clogged. Now not only does the stone not fall, but it does not move at all, having been welded to the rock without a break. The overwhelming majority of the photo reports about the trip to Ergaki include a group photo of tourists standing under a rock.
At the tourist bases travelers going to explore Yergaki will necessarily be briefed on the rules of conduct in the Park and on safety regulations. In particular, tourists will be told that it is forbidden to make fires in the Park. Obligatorily given a memo on how to behave in case of a meeting with a bear. Teach how to build a camp and appoint guides. This shows that the tourism business in Ergaki Nature Park works in accordance with international standards. And this is very good both for the development of domestic tourism in general and for tourists in particular.
Ergaki Nature Park
Ergaki Nature Park is a part of the mountain system of the Western Sayan Mountains. The name is translated from Tuvan as “fingers.” The park is located in the south of the Krasnoyarsk region. The formations are more than two million years old. This place is rich with unique mountain landscapes, clear lakes and streams. Almost every mountain pass or rock is associated with ancient legends.
On its territory grows a large number of rare plant species included in the Red Book. Here you notice the changes in vegetation as you climb to the peaks. From coniferous forests to alpine meadows.
Yergaki is home to a population of bears that you have to watch out for during the hike.
First of all, because of their own safety, because they can attract the attention of bears. Secondly, many bird species nest and hatch their eggs on the ground.
The Yergaki were discovered by a group of Krasnoyarsk artists. By the end of the 60s there were laid hiking trails. And in 1969 the highest peak – Zvezdny, 2,265 meters high – was conquered. The symbol of the natural park was the musk deer on the background of the mountains.
Routes in the Ergaki
There are two seasons for trips to these places. The winter season for skiers and snowboarders begins in early November and ends in May. Summer is for trekking, cross-country skiing and camping from mid-June to mid-August.
At the entrance are signs with the basic rules. You should read them carefully. Then begins a smooth climb up the trails, which were made by volunteers.
Then the track follows on large boulders – kurums. It is relatively comfortable to walk on them because of their stability and rough surface. Drinking water can not be stocked, as there are a huge number of mountain streams, from which to drink.
All routes are marked with different colors depending on the level of difficulty. Easy – green, medium – blue, difficult – red. The minimum trek to Hanging Rock is about 15 kilometers.
Before you start climbing, you need to get permission from the rangers, or face a large fine. You can do it in the Visitors Center at the 614th kilometer of the Yenisei highway. Tourists register here and get brief instruction. You can also buy a trail map or order a guided tour of the trails. More information on the official website.
For stopping for a few days, there are campgrounds. They start from 605 to 640 kilometers of the road.
All the attractions of the park are of natural origin. One goes here to enjoy the views of crystal clear lakes and to conquer the high peaks and passes.
The peaks of Ergaki range
The natural park has unique landscapes. They are made up of all kinds of mountains. Almost each one has its own name. The peak, which has the outline of a lying man, is called the Sleeping Sayan. The rock that resembles a sitting monkey is called the Mother of the Sayans. An unusual rock that hangs over an abyss is the Hanging Rock. It is especially well seen from Rainbow Lake. The sheer smooth sides of the rocks are mirrors. There are also peaks:
- Dragon’s Tooth,
- Stone Castle, etc.
Khudozhnikov Pass and others
Passes in the park there are a lot of simple without categories to high complexity with a height of 2000 meters. The path is marked with stone tours. The most popular pass is the Khudozhnikov Pass. There are often arranged tent camps.
You can go from one valley to another on the passes:
- Sleeping Sayan connects Rainbow and Azure lakes;
- Coursers – lakes Marble and Artists;
- Upper Parabola – the source of the Big Taigish River and Mountain Spirits Lake;
- Green – Fishless and Zolotarnoye lakes;
- Bird – Bear Creek with Mountain Spirits Lake;
- Taigish and Rescue – Big Taigish and Kebezh rivers;
- Misty – Kebezh River and Taigishonok Creek;
- Auxiliary – the headwaters and tributary of the Bolshoi Kebezh River;
- Eastern and Second Krasnoyarsk – Buibu and Kebezh;
- Dolphin and Zharki – Ice Creek and Fishless Lake;
- Pikantny – the source of the Taigish River and Lake Zolotarnoye.
Lakes in the Ergaki
The calling card of the natural park is Lake Svetloye. Most often tourists want to get to it because of the amazing view and atmosphere. In the summer here you can stay in the camp of the club “Ergaki”. Also visit the lakes:
- Cozy with meltwater. Here is a tent camp “Pearl of the Sayan”;
- Raduzhnoe, where grayling lives (bears and lynx attacks on tourists happened here);
- Buibinskoye lakes: Raduzhnoye, Karovoye;
- Artists with stone islands;
- Mountain Spirits;
- Bear Lake;
- Marble or Tushkanchik. From here begins the waterfall of the same name;
How to get there
The nearest major cities from the Ergaki Nature Park are Abakan, Kyzyl and Krasnoyarsk. This part of the Sayan range is located between Khakassia and Tyva. You can get here by car or by public transport.
The park has gained popularity due to its accessibility. It is crossed by the federal highway M-54 or R-257.
From Abakan it is about 200 kilometers to the “Visit Center”. The way will take about 3 hours.
The distance from Kyzyl is a little less, about 190 kilometers.
Krasnoyarsk is the furthest. From here the route takes about 8 hours.
Also passing by are buses in the directions:
- No. 651 “Kuragino-Abakan-Kyzyl”,
- No. 790 Tomsk-Kyzyl,
- No. 791 “Krasnoyarsk-Kyzyl,
Stops on demand. Tickets are bought at the bus stations of the respective cities. You need to take care of your return in advance.