13 Best Sights of the Sayan Mountains – description and photos

13 places to see in the Sayan Mountains

Sites in the Sayan Mountains

The Sayan Mountains are a mountain system stretching in the southern part of Siberia, between Altai and Baikal. Life of the local population cannot be called easy, and yet they are unspeakably lucky – they have magnificent mountains, dense forests, fast rivers, beautiful lakes and the cleanest air.

All this can be yours for the time being if you decide to spend your vacation somewhere in Buryatia, Khakassia, Tyva or in the south of Krasnoyarsk region. What to see in the Sayan Mountains? What for to go to such distances?

First of all, for rest from civilization, for immersion into the world of untouched nature, for adventures, after all! To see the source of the great Siberian river, to descend into the crater of an extinct volcano, to sunbathe, skiing in summer from snow-covered mountain peaks, to test the healing properties of natural sources, to ride through endless taiga – all this you can do here, in Sayan.

Sayano-Shushensky Reserve

Sayano-Shushensky Nature Reserve

The Sayano-Shushensky reserve.

On the territory of the Sayan Mountains, there are two reserves. One of them, Sayano-Shushensky, is located near the water reservoir of the same name, on the left bank of the Yenisei River. Many animals living in these protected areas are included in the Red Book, and each representative of the local fauna is valuable and interesting.

However, the main pride of the Sayano-Shushenskaya nature conservation area is the snow leopard. According to experts, there is one snow leopard per each 10 square kilometers of the reserve, which is not found anywhere else in the world. So, you have a small, but a chance to see this graceful animal, at least from afar, during the walk along one of the routes laid in the territory of the reserve.

Address: Sayano-Shushensky State Nature Reserve, Krasnoyarsk Territory, Russia.

The Stolby (“Pillars”) Reserve

The Stolby Nature Reserve

The Stolby (“Pillars”) preserve.

The reserve with the unusual name “Stolby” is located on the northwestern spurs of the Eastern Sayan, on the outskirts of Krasnoyarsk. The proximity to the city and the possibility to get to the reserve by a regular bus from the center made it a very popular place among the citizens of Krasnoyarsk.

In this reserve you are waited by the most real taiga, on which the most real bears roam. But its main treasure are the pillars – picturesque rocks, frozen in the form of bizarre stone sculptures of magma, burst once from the bowels of the Earth. Each “pillar” has long had its own name: there are, for example, Takmak, Ermak, Chinese Wall, Grandfather, Lion’s Gate.

Residents and guests of Krasnoyarsk with great pleasure come to the territory of the reserve to just take a walk or do sports. In winter you can go skiing here, in summer you can devote time to rock climbing. The word you will not hear anywhere else for the latter kind of activity – “stolbism” – has long been used here.

Address: Krasnoyarsk Pillars, Krasnoyarsk, Russia.




Located on the territory of the Tuva Republic, Mount Bai-Taiga, which rises to 3128 meters above sea level, is the highest point of the Western Sayans. But this is not the only thing that makes this mountain famous. For Tuvinians, Bai-Taiga is a sacred mountain and the most revered peak. It is here that the Sangba Norulha burgan, a local deity, the master of all Tuva, is believed to live.

Every year, at the beginning of summer, a traditional rite of consecration of the mountain is held on the Bai-Taiga. It is believed that participation in this rite gives strength, gets rid of negative energy and gives harmony with the surrounding nature, because the one who worships the sacred mountain receives the favor of the great spirit. Keep in mind that on this day only men can climb the mountain. Women are not allowed to go up, but they can send offerings to the master of the mountain through their relatives.

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Address: Bay-Taiga, Tuva Republic, Russia.

Pyat Saiyan Ridge

The Sleeping Sayan Ridge

Ridge Spyatny Sayan.

In the territory of the Nature Park “Ergaki”, which is in the south of the Krasnoyarsk region, there are many sights, but his calling card is considered the Mountain range of the Sleeping Saiyan. Many Russians and foreigners come to see this unique chain of cliffs.

The ridge was not accidentally given such a name – from the side he really looks like a giant lying on his back: you can clearly see his legs, arms folded on his chest, noble face profile, and falling locks of hair. The ancient people who created the legend of the Sleeping Saiyan believed that he was a keeper of the taiga turned to stone, protecting the local forests and their inhabitants even in sleep.

His dream does not last forever: when the Hanging Rock falls, which is another local landmark, a huge 500-ton stone boulder that according to all laws of physics should have fallen off the cliff long ago, the bogatyr will wake up.

Address: Sleeping Sayan, Krasnoyarsk region, Russia.

Brothers Rock

Brothers Rock

Brothers Rock.

A trip to the Yergaki Nature Park will give you the opportunity to see not only the Sleeping Sayan or Hanging Rock, but also other local attractions, including the unique Brothers Rock. This amazing creation of nature is two different in height and size peaks, connected to each other by the cofferdam.

The jumper has a very smooth parabolic outline, and that is why the pass and the whole rock massif are often called Parabola. The rock, of which Parabola is made, has a very smooth surface, making it look polished, which leads many to think that this remarkable rock is machined (or even artificial in origin).

Not far from Little Brother you will find a lake filled with emerald water, which has the shape of an almost regular rectangle – the Lake of Mountain Spirits. According to legend, it was these spirits who bewitched the two brothers and gave us this stone miracle.

Address: Ergaki Nature Park.

Volcano Kropotkina

Kropotkin volcano

Kropotkin Volcano.

In the Eastern Sayan, on the territory of Oka district of Buryatia, there is the Khi-Gol valley, also known as the Valley of extinct volcanoes. Here you can count nine dormant volcanoes, towering over the lava fields. One of them is Kropotkin volcano. It is named in honor of Pyotr Kropotkin, who was not only a prominent revolutionary, but also a well-known Russian geographer and geomorphologist, who studied the tectonic structure of Siberia.

The truncated cone of this volcano stands out against the surrounding mountains, because it is almost devoid of vegetation: not even grass, let alone bushes and trees, wants to grow on its slopes. The height of the volcano above the lava field is relatively low – 100-110 meters, but the depth of its funnel, 200 meters in diameter, is about 60 meters, and a 20-story house could easily fit in it. The cone is made of basalt slag, which makes it black with a greenish hue and looks a little ominous.

Address: Vulcan Kropotkina, Republic of Buryatia, Russia.

Peretolchina volcano

Peretolchina volcano

Peretolchina Volcano.

Only 3 kilometers from Kropotkin volcano there is another no less interesting dormant volcano for several thousand years, named after Sergei Pavlovich Peretolchin, the Irkutsk geologist, who studied the Eastern Sayan and died not far from the volcano under mysterious circumstances.

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Peretolchina volcano is a huge cone-shaped elevation composed of andesites, basalts, and other rocks. The slopes of the hill are covered with fir, larch, and pine trees, forced to grow at an angle of 30 degrees. Trees are well established not only on the outer slopes of the volcano, but also on the inner walls of its 140-meter crater extending 30 meters deep. At the bottom of the crater is a small lake with very cold water.

Address: Peretolchina volcano, Republic of Buryatia, Russia.

Okinskoe Plateau

Okinskoe Plateau

Okinskoe Plateau.

In the Oka region of Buryatia there is also a plateau of the same name. High-mountain valley, located at an altitude of about 1500-2000 meters above sea level and surrounded by a ring of Sayan Mountains, many people associate with the lost world of science fiction books and movies.

Almost autumn, calm-yellowish landscapes, silence and absence of people … For the opportunity to see this beauty, to feel this solitude from the world is worth to overcome some hundreds kilometers. Believe me, you will not regret that you went a long way.

Address: Oka Plateau, Republic of Buryatia, Russia.

Azas Plateau

Azas Plateau

The Azas Plateau.

The Azas Plateau is also called the East Tuva Plateau, from which it is not difficult to deduce its location. The area of Azas is about 2,000 square kilometers, and much of this territory is a huge volcanic field.

Azas is literally “seeded” with volcanoes: one can see shield, layered and granite volcanoes, slag cones, volcanic mounds and frozen basalt flows. Volcanic activity in these places apparently took place in the modern period as well – you can come to such a conclusion by analyzing the mythology of the aboriginal population.

The most famous volcano of these places and also the highest point of the plateau is volcano Shivit-Taiga, which rises above sea level on more than 2500 meters and still occasionally shows thermal activity.

GPS coordinates: 52.44350800,98.38787500.

Mt Munku-Sardyk

Munku-Sardyk mountain peak

Mountain peak Munku-Sardyk. | Photo: wikimedia.

Munku-Sardyk is the highest point of the Sayan Mountains. This peak, located on the border between Buryatia and Mongolia, rises to 3,491 meters above sea level. Munku-Sardyk in Buryat translates as “the ever-white goat,” and this name is not accidental because the mountain is covered with ice and snow all the year round.

For the local population, Buryats, Mongols and Soyots, Munku-Sardyk is a sacred mountain, the abode of Abai-Geser-Khan and numerous spirits of the Sayans. Women are not allowed to stay here, and men must ask the mountain spirits for permission before climbing the mountain. However, mountain climbers coming from different parts of the country do not take these bans seriously and storm the slopes of Munku-Sardyk with great excitement.

Address: Munku-Sardyk, Russia.

Shushensky Bor

Shushensky boron

Shushensky Bor.

On the outskirts of the village of Shushenskoye, widely known as the place of Lenin’s three-year exile, begins the Shushensky pine forest. By the end of the 19th century it was almost completely destroyed, but during the years of Soviet power it was restored. In 1995 to protect the pine forest and the nature of forest-steppe, forest and mountain-forest ecosystems of the Western Sayan as a whole, as well as numerous historical and archeological monuments, which remained on this territory, the national park “Shushensky pine forest” with the total area of just under 40 thousand hectares was created.

For tourists in the national park there are interesting excursion routes and hiking trails, organized several campsites, where you can pitch a tent, make a fire and spend time in unity with nature. In the recreational area is allowed sport and recreational fishing.

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Address: FGBU National Park “Shushensky Bor”, Lugovaya street, Shushenskoe, Krasnoyarsk region, Russia.

Sayano-Shushenskaya Hydroelectric Power Station

Sayano-Shushenskaya HPP

Sayano-Shushenskaya hydropower plant.

On the border between the Krasnoyarsk Territory and Khakassia, near Sayanogorsk, the Yenisei River is dammed by a hydroelectric plant, which is the upper stage of the Yenisei cascade of HPPs. Its name is familiar to every resident of our country, and there is nothing surprising about it, because the Sayano-Shushenskaya HPP is the largest power plant on the territory of Russia by capacity, and 242-meter high dam is the highest dam in the country (and one of the highest in the world).

It is not possible to enter the plant itself, as it is a strategic facility under protection. However, you can see the power plant dam. Moreover, for convenience of curious people not far from it even made a special viewing platform open around the clock.

The view, of course, is impressive: seeing the power of the water stream, driving thousand-ton turbine rotors, you feel like a small grain of sand in a vast world. The water spillway, resembling a huge artificial waterfall, enthralls everyone who comes and goes here. In a word, this attraction of the Sayan Mountains can safely be classified as a must-see.

Address: Sayano-Shushenskaya Hydroelectric Power Plant, Republic of Khakassia, Russia.

The Bolshoi Sayan Ridge

Bolshoi Sayan range

The Bolshoi Sayan Range.

The Bolshoi Sayan Range is one of the highest and hardest to reach ridges in the south-eastern part of the Eastern Sayan. The main part of the range is 2200-3000 m high, and here is the highest point of all the Sayan mountains, Munku-Sardyk (3491 m).

It is easy to guess that the trip along the Bolshoi Sayan will not resemble a walk in the suburban park – at times it will be very, very difficult. But all the efforts you invest will be more than compensated by the beauty, which you will find here: numerous mountain streams, beautiful waterfalls, high-mountain meadows, extinct volcanoes and, of course, the mountains, that keep their snow caps on all year round.

Sayan Mountains Attractions

Kropotkina volcano Oka plateau Peretolchina volcano Tunkinskaya basin Azas plateau Munku-Sardyk mountain peak Shushen pine forest Karlygan ridge

This site contains a list of places of interest in the Sayan Mountains – photos, descriptions and travel tips. The list is based on popular travel guides and presented by type, name and rating. Here you’ll find answers to what to see in Sayany, where to go and where to stay in Sayany popular and interesting places.

Volcano Kropotkina

Kropotkin volcano (photo)

The volcano got its name from the famous revolutionary P.A. Kropotkin.

The elevation is almost 2,000 meters high. From the outside, it looks like a small but wide crater composed of different rocks. Basalt and andesite are the most common. In addition, the layers of the hill contain volcanic dust, ash and slag.

At the top of the volcano is a huge crater. Its diameter is about 200 meters. The depression is filled with water that has a greenish-blue color. This color is the result of a large accumulation of various chemical elements.

Kropotkin volcano once erupted. The last explosion occurred more than 10,000 years ago. Because it has been “silent” for a long time, its slopes have been filled with vegetation. There are stone birch and alder woods.

Coordinates: 52.70407800,99.00002800

Okino Plateau

Oka plateau (photo)

The Oka Plateau is located at an altitude of about 1500 m above sea level. The main role of this area is the watershed of the Eastern Sayans. Many mountain water bodies originate from here. Such as Irkut, Oka, Dibi, Kitoy. The plateau is surrounded by mountain ranges, smoothly turning into chains. Because of them, it is not easy to get to Okinskoe.

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Previously, the territory of the Sayan were occupied by the ancient tribes of Buryats. They knew these lands like the back of their hand. And the Buryats paved a path, winding among the mountains and hills, to Okinskoe. By the way it still exists, but not many people know about it. Today there is another entrance to Okinskoye, which has appeared in the modern period. The road wiggles among the hills, passes through the narrow broken tracks, passes over huge wooden bridges. But tourists don’t regret the distance, because it’s worth the sight at the end.

Coordinates: 52.70000000,98.98333300

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Peretolchina volcano

Peretolchina volcano (photo)

The elevation is named after the explorer S.P. Peretolchin, who died not far from the volcano under mysterious circumstances. No one is still unable to determine the cause of his death.

The volcano is a huge cone-shaped mound, made up of different rocks. Andesites and basalts are most common. Mixed in with the rock is slag, volcanic dust, and ash.

At the top of the hill is a huge crater 30 meters deep with a diameter of about 140 meters. At the bottom of the depression is a small cold lake. Its parameters are very small, about 10 meters wide. But it is completely filled with various organisms from rare species of bacteria, to fry and crustaceans.

As for the slopes, they are completely overgrown with vegetation. There are not only grass and bushes, but also quite tall trees. Very original look pines, spruces and firs growing at an angle of 30 degrees. And they are well-established not only on the outer slopes of the volcano, but also in the interior.

Coordinates: 52.71916700,99.03472200

In photo mode you can see the sights in Sayan Mountains only by photo.

Tunka Hollow

Tunka hollow (photo)

Tunka Basin is also called Tunka Depression or valley. It is over 190 kilometers long. Next to it runs the Irkuta river. The mountain range stretches from north to east. It consists of numerous huge massifs and small mountains, as well as six depressions. These are the Khoytogol, Tunkinskaya, Bystrinskaya, Mondinskaya, Torskaya, and Turnskaya hollows.

As for the flora and fauna, it is very rich in the Tunka valley. Among the vegetation, there are numerous species typical of the tundra, steppe and forest-steppe. Of the animals you can see ermine, red deer, sable and many others.

In addition, in the basin there are many lakes, springs that gush directly from the ground, or rather from the mountain towns. In the Turin Basin is well developed tourism. There are a lot of routes for visitors. Also, without much expense you can just have a picnic in nature.

In 1991, the area of the hollow became part of the Tunski National Park. All animals and plants are closely monitored and protected.

Coordinates: 51.50000000,102.50000000

Azas Plateau

Plateau Azas (photo)

Azas Plateau is about 2000 square kilometers. There is nothing else on this vast area. There are gentle craters, shield volcanoes, cinder cones, volcanic mounds and even layered volcanoes. The most famous hill of Azas and the highest point of the field is Shivit Taiga volcano. Its height is over 2,500 meters. It has a regular cone-shaped shape with a crater on top. The volcano is active. The largest and most destructive explosions were recorded more than 25,000 years ago. Now it shows only thermal activity.

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In addition, there are volcanoes in the Azas field composed of granite. The walls are mottled with frozen flows of once-burning lava. The stream flowed out of the craters and headed in any direction. Lava marks are found everywhere in the field. Most of them are near the river Bii Khema, which runs through the territory of Azas.

Coordinates: 52.44350800,98.38787500

Mt Munku-Sardyk

Munku-Sardyk mountain peak (photo)

Munku-Sardyk peak (3,491 m high) is the highest point of the Eastern Sayans. It is in the border area between Buryatia and Mongolia. The slope is covered by a glacier, the area of which decreases every year.

In translation from the Buryat language, the name Munku-Sardyk means “the eternally white mountain goat” because the top of the mountain is forever covered with ice and snow.

Munku-Sardyk is very popular with mountain climbers. The peak was first conquered by Russian geographer Gustav Radde in 1858. At present, there are several climbing routes of different difficulty categories to climb the mountain.

Coordinates : 51.71511800,100.59356700

Shushensky Bor

Shushensky pine forest (photo)

Shushensky Bor is a national park located in the Shushensky District of Krasnoyarsk Krai. It was established in 1995 to protect the nature of the Western Sayan and numerous historical and archaeological monuments of this area. The total area of the national park is 39.18 thousand hectares.

The village of Shushenskoye is probably the most famous place for tourists here, many of our country’s political figures were exiled here. There is a historical and ethnographic museum-reserve “Shushenskoe”, previously it was called “Siberian exile of Lenin”. Now its collection is based on original traditional monuments of material and spiritual culture of Siberian peasants of 19th – early 20th centuries. Not far from the village is Macherkin mountain, where there are archaeological monuments of the Afanasyev, Tatar and Tashtyk eras.

Shushensky Bor National Park offers a number of interesting excursions, these routes will familiarize guests with the peculiarities of landscapes, flora and fauna, natural monuments, as well as such an outstanding construction as the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric power plant.

Coordinates: 53.33866300,91.93457200

Karlygan ridge

Karlygan ridge (photo)

Karlygan (Western Sayan) is a mountain range that is located in Russia, in the Krasnoyarsk region, in the Western Sayan. Its absolute height is 2,000-2,900 meters above sea level, the highest point is 2,834 meters (Mount Anytayga) and is about 55 kilometers long.

The range is composed of granites in the southern part and metamorphic shales in the northern part. In the south, the relief of the Karlygan has alpine forms with rocky peaks. The slopes are covered with pine and spruce-fir forests, if you climb above 1,800-2,000 meters, you can see the mountain tundra and stone placers.

Karlygan is a watershed of Malyi and Bolshoi Abakan rivers.

Coordinates: 53.58334100,89.78333600

The most popular attractions in Sayan with descriptions and photos for all tastes. Choose the best places to visit famous places in Sayan on our website.

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