What is remarkable about Lake Aya in Altai?
Going to rest in Altai, the traveler should consider Lake Aya as the goal of his trip. Altai nature, a lot of tourist bases, an elite play area.
Lake Aya is one of the few mountainous Altai natural reservoirs where you can swim in the water at a comfortable temperature in the summer. The lake is small, so in the warm season is heated to 21 ° C. Together with well-groomed sandy beaches, unique Altai nature, mountain landscape and developed tourist infrastructure, Aiskoye lake has become an attractive place for recreation and tourism.
Lake Aya is located near the Aya River and the village of Aya. It’s hard to understand who gave the name to whom. Sometimes the lake is called respectfully Aya, sometimes in familiar manner Aya or very flippantly Aika. The area of the lake is 9 hectares and its size is about 4-5 Olympic swimming pools. Enough to swim in the lake on a catamaran or air mattress.
The lake is fed exclusively by rain and spring water. In dry weather, its level slightly decreases, while in heavy rains it rises. Fluctuations of the mirror do not affect the convenience of tourists, whose number is increasing every year. To unload the lake at the base “Biryuzovaya Katun” even created an artificial warm pond, but the beaches of Aya still remain filled up.
Interesting! At the bottom of the lake there is a layer of hydrogen sulfide, the so-called hydrogen sulfide cushion. The presence of the cushion relates freshwater Aya with the Black Sea.
A bit of geography and mythical cosmogony
A mountain trough, where Aiskoye lake is situated, is elevated 50 meters above the level of Katun river, half kilometer away from its left shore. Geologists define the age of the lake as 20-25 million years.
The lake has a sickle shape, which apparently explains its name. “Aya” in Altai mythology is the moon. Both Lake Aya and the village of Aya have legends about its creation, with Aya the moon as its heroine. So, the origin of the lake is explained by the desire of the demiurge Ai Moon to save mankind from a man-eating villain. The moon jumped to the ground, firmly pressing into the ground as it fell. Of course, the villain was punished, and the moon’s imprint became a lake.
Almost in the middle of the lake there is a natural islet. Those who swim to it can sit in an elegant pavilion, which occupies half the area of the island. The pavilion, for some reason, is called “Gazebo of Love”. Strange, because with such an abundance of holidaymakers lovers hardly have the opportunity to seclude themselves on the island. Usually there are moored at least three catamarans, three boats and five inflatable mattresses.
There are two villages, Maima and Aya, in close proximity to Aya Lake. Maima is on the left bank of the Katun and Aya is on the right. Both settlements have a population of at least 2,000 people each. Almost all of the residents are engaged in the tourism business and providing services to holidaymakers in one way or another.
There are 79 guest houses, mini-hotels and tourist houses with peculiar names in both settlements and near the lake itself – “Country House on Energetikov”, “Manor San-Gerel Altai”, “Time of Happiness” and others. Basically, these are the houses and plots of local residents, equipped to receive tourists to the extent of imagination and financial capabilities of the owners.
When is better to go to the lake
You can go to Lake Aya at any time of the year. The main thing is the goals. The tourist infrastructure is so developed that both in summer and winter, the traveler will have something to do and where to stay.
If the purpose of the trip is swimming and sunbathing, it is advisable to go in July – August. It is worth evaluating your preferences. If a tourist seeks a more or less secluded rest, it is better to go to Egypt, but not to Aya. The density of tourist bases, hotels and, accordingly, holidaymakers on Aya is very high. Fortunately, there are a few bases at some distance from the entertainment centers, where tourists are able to sleep peacefully, not hearing the roar of night discos.
With the start of the school year the tourist season dies down and people go away. The water is still warm and few tourists can enjoy the solitude and quiet.
By mid-November, Lake Aisky turns into an ice rink and tourist centers start getting ready for New Year holidays.
Important! Taking into account the anthropogenic impact on the nature of Lake Ai, the neighborhood was given the rank of a nature park. This allowed the establishment of monetary dues, the so-called recreational fees, aimed at maintaining the purity and preservation of this unique natural object. At present, the recreation fee is 30 rubles per person per day.
What to do in Ayah
In summertime, the main recreational activity is swimming. The lake has a large park of boats and catamarans. You can rent a motor-delta-plane. You can rent a catamaran for up to 200 rubles for half an hour ride.
The beaches are well-equipped and have sun loungers and parasols.
All tourist centers organize excursions – walking, horseback riding and car tours. You can also take catamaran rides down the Katun River.
Ai discos are a joy for youth and a punishment for middle-aged and elderly tourists, as well as for families with children. According to tourists’ comments, the noise regime at tourist bases is constantly violated and discos, which are supposed to close by 2 a.m., usually rumble until 5 a.m. In this regard you should choose the hotel, hostel or guesthouse responsibly.
Note that almost the whole shore of Aya Lake is privatized and divided between the tourist complexes “Beryozka” and “Park-Hotel Aya”. Tourist complexes charge different amounts of money for using the beaches, the fee may reach 400RUR per person. There are VIP-zones which charge 1000RUR per day.
You can also pay for crossing the bridge over the Katun River. Officially the price is 50 RUR, but according to tourists’ accounts, they charge up to 150 RUR. Many of the fees are illegal and it is confirmed by prosecutor’s office and regional administration. Our advice – when you pay the taxes ask for the check and refer to the Altai Administration decision about public easement on lands belonging to tourist complexes. According to the decree, the tourist complexes are obliged to provide citizens with a free passage to the coastal strip. The width of the pass must be no less than 3 meters.
Aja for Beaumonde
In accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation since June 1, 2009 there are four federal gaming zones in Russia, including the Altai zone “Siberian Coin”.
Since 1.11.2014 near Lake Aya, in a pine and birch forest, the first casino “Altai Palace” was opened. The total area of the casino is 7000 m2 . There are several gaming halls – from the standard with a rate of 1 RUB, to “millionth” VIP-rooms, where the minimum bet is 40000 RUB. There are spas, gyms, massage therapists at the casino.
Accommodation for players is provided by tourist base “Kaimskaya”, which of course belongs to the owner of “Altai Palace”. The cost of rooms from 2000 rubles per day in the “economy” room to 80000 rubles per day in the “luxury” rooms. The casino is developing, even a gas pipeline is pulled up to it. The owners plan to develop the infrastructure and to create a small town.
It is not known if the millionaires bathe in the waters of the Ai. After all, it’s hard to distinguish a millionaire in bathing shorts from a turner in the same outfit. But there is still a reason for millionaire hunters to mobilize.
Where to Stay
There is no problem with “where to stay” on Aisky Lake. Any of the 79 tourist accommodations will gladly provide you with shelter, food and related services in the form of bathhouses, Internet and recreation areas. The price of a room varies from 2000 rubles to 8000 rubles. Using the beach for their own guests administration leaves free of charge.
The cost of living varies depending on the comfort of the accommodation. The lower the comfort, the less the administration cares about the comfort of its residents. Tourists complain about the bad smelling toilets and irregular cleaning of areas.
You can live both directly at the lake and in the nearby villages. In the villages housing is significantly cheaper. But there is a danger that all the money saved will be eaten up by daily payments for the use of the bridge and the beach.
Every tourist will have to solve this dilemma, especially families with children and those who do not like noisy parties. There are two options – to live in villages, enjoy the quiet and pay for the beach and the bridge, or to live near the lake, fall asleep to the roar of discos and use the beach for free. In addition, the rural guest houses and hotels will feed you much tastier than the lakeside cafes and mini diners.
How to get to Aya
It is more convenient to get to Aya Lake through Biisk. From Biisk to the lake is about 110 kilometers along the good asphalt of the Chuiskii road, so the trip will take no more than two hours, and that’s if you stop in Srostki to taste the local pies and pancakes, and look at the monument to Vasily Shukshin.
It is impossible to get lost on the Chuisky Tract; the signposts don’t tell you when to turn. You can approach the lake via two bridges. The first one is 20 kilometers away from Maim. The bridge is unique, rope-drawn and looks more like an attraction than a means of crossing. It rocks and shakes, giving travelers a portion of adrenaline.
The second bridge is behind the village of Maima. If you drive along rural Sovetskaya Street, you can reach the next bridge across the Katun. After crossing the bridge, the traveler will find himself in close proximity to the lake and the village of Aya.
From Biysk you can also take public transportation, but you should be prepared to walk a couple of kilometers to the lake. There are no buses to the lake or to the camping sites.
Those wishing to see a different Altai can drive from Biysk along the Old Chuysky Tract, through small villages. In the villages you can buy quality and inexpensive food products. From Altayskoye you should take the left fork and do not turn anywhere else. The road will take you to the lake.
“Devil’s Finger” is a 250-meter rock, the excursion to which is offered by all tourist bases. The rock is located at a distance of about 3 km from the lake. The rock has nothing to do with the devil, and the name is based on an old legend about a duel between two warriors, one of whom was named Cherto.
If you ignore the creativity of alternative artists who have decorated the rock with sacred inscriptions such as “I’ve been there,” you can quite enjoy the landscape.
The old wooden bridge is not really old; it is only 40 years old, just the age of maturity for bridges. In 2009, the bridge was overhauled and the passage of the bridge, like many other things on the Ai, became toll-free. Now the bridge is closed for renovation. According to official statements, the bridge has fallen into disrepair as a result of a severe flood. But local residents suspect that it is due to poor quality overhaul. At the moment, reconstruction work has been suspended, and it is unknown whether it will be resumed until the bridge is completely destroyed.
If we talk about the pros and cons of recreation on Lake Aya – the number of them is about the same. The unique nature of Altai is lost against the background of not the best arrangement of the territory for recreation. But be that as it may, the Altai landscapes are capable of defeating any anthropogenic influence. Just do not wait for miracles and world standards of tourist business from the Aya Lake, and you can fully enjoy the beautiful nature and warm water.
Aya Lake (Aya)
Lake Aya (Aya) is one of the popular and picturesque tourist spots in Altai. The busiest place at any time of year is the recreation center at Lake Aya. There are several of them here. And not by chance, because the Mountain Altai is famous for its picturesque landscapes, clean air and, of course, rivers and lakes, in which there is a lot of fish.
The water body itself is small, but deep. Parameters are: length – 1.4 kilometers, diameter – 300-400 meters, and a maximum depth of just over 21 meters.
It is difficult to find a place of the same incredible beauty: next to the lake are mountains, forests, the rushing river Katun. Often tourists are taken to the mountain of Devil’s Finger, which is a few kilometers from Lake Aya. The mountain offers a magnificent panoramic view of the surrounding area.
Rest at Lake Aya
The water body is located in the Altai Mountains, which is famous for its incredible scenery. Here just in search of this beauty thousands of tourists come every year. In 2003, the Aya Nature Park was founded in the area.
Near the lake there is a sandy beach, and a little further away you can find recreation centers where you can stay and spend a few days exploring the surroundings – there really is something to see there.
If you want to swim in the lake and sunbathe, it’s better to go there to rest in July, August or early fall. By the beginning of the school year the flow of tourists decreases slightly, but in September the weather is still quite comfortable. In winter there is a lot of interesting things to do there: ice rink, skis, ice rink, recreation centers organize outdoor games and celebrate the New Year in a big way.
Recreation bases on the Lake Aya
There are dozens of tourist bases, estates, hotels and hotels, where you can stay on the shore of the lake – “Bear Corner”, “Rainbow Beach”, “Beryozka”, “Kedrovaya”, “Dolce Vita” and others. They work year round, because the tourist season in the Altai does not end even in late autumn and winter. Guests can rent cottages for families, large groups or rooms in the buildings. On the territory of tourist centers, as a rule, there is everything for comfortable recreation and fun, active leisure: bathhouse, dining room or cafe, sports and children’s playgrounds, barbecue areas, equipped beaches, sports equipment rental. Often there are sports competitions, games, in the evenings – discos, some festive events. Also you can enjoy excursions to the Altai Mountains.
It is worth saying at once that the holidaymakers will be charged a resort fee. In 2019 it was 50 rubles per day, and in 2021 – from 150 rubles per day. However, this fee is not collected from the disabled of groups I and II, low-income families (the privilege must be confirmed by a certificate of income) and local residents.
Fishing at the Aya lake
Fishing has become one of the popular tourist activities. The lake is freshwater and is home to roach, pike, perch, ruff, crucian carp and other fish species. One can fish from the shore or by boat.
One can meet here fishing lovers both in winter and in summer. In general, the lakes of Altai Mountains are a favorite place for fishermen. There are always a lot of fish, that’s why the catch is always plentiful.
Peculiarities of the lake Aya
The reservoir is located on the left bank of the Katun River, near the villages of Aya and Maima. No river flows into the lake. It receives water from underground sources, as well as from precipitation.
Katun River on google panorama
There is a very interesting legend connected with Lake Aya. Once upon a time, a very long time ago, the ogre Delbegen lived in those places where the lake is located. The inhabitants of the village were so tired of living in constant fear that, not knowing whom to turn to, they began to beg the moon to free them from the enemy. The moon listened to their pleas and one night she came down to earth to find and take the ogre with her. There, in the place where the moon touched the earth, Lake Aja was formed.
There is a small island in the very center of the lake (the distance to the shore is short). Those, who have reached this island (by swimming or by boat), can rest there in a gazebo.
The water in the lake is fresh and clean and the bottom is sandy. On the shore of the reservoir there are beaches and various areas for recreation. Often you can find there tourists camping in tents. Around the lake there are mountains and forests.
Weather and water temperature
Lake Aya is one of a few in the Altai Mountains where it is comfortable to bathe in summer – the water temperature is +20°C (usually water in other reservoirs is not so warm). The water is covered with ice in November. In winter they organize an ice rink there.
As for the air temperature, the warmest month of the year is July. The daytime average is +26.8 ° C, and at night +12.9 ° C. These are average values. Usually, there are days in summer when the temperature reaches 30-degrees.
In winter, the average monthly temperature ranges from -7.2°C to -12.1°C. The coldest month is December. This is also the month when most snow falls.
How to get there
You can get to Lake Aya in different ways – by public transport, private or rented car, as well as by cab.
Every day from the Gorno-Altaisk bus station you can get to the village of Aya by bus #912. You will spend about 30 minutes en route. You can find the bus schedule from Gorno-Altaisk on the popular travel service Tutu.ru.
Lake Aya is not far from Gorno-Altaisk (about 33 kilometers), so you will spend approximately 50 minutes on the road. Leave the city by Energetikov street and turn left on Chuisky tract, then go straight through Dubrovka village, Rybalka, Souzga, then turn to the bridge and cross the Katun river, turn right and, following the signs, go to the Aya lake. You can see the route on the google-map.
You can also use local cab services – Yandex.Taxi and Uber.