How to plan a vacation in Khakassia – one of the most mystical regions of Russia

When to go to Khakassia

It is best to go in the spring or summer, trying to capture some of the national holidays. For example, in March, Chyl pazi is celebrated – Milk Day, or the Khakass New Year. People perform the ceremony of feeding the fire, play national games and sing songs in their native language.

In July, Tun-Payram is celebrated – the holiday of the first Airan. Big festivities are organized in the out-of-town complexes, like on City Day, only surrounded by nature and with typical Khakassian rituals.

In August or September, you can get to Urtun-toi, where the end of the agricultural season is celebrated. Also at this time, the festival “Day of the Minusinsk Tomato” is held, at which the commission rewards the owner who has grown the largest and heaviest tomato.

Khakassia. Frame: Alexander Turtsin / YouTube

How to get to Khakassia

The capital of the republic is the city of Abakan. From Moscow, the journey here by plane will take four hours. Ticket prices fluctuate around 10,000–14,000 rubles .

You can also get to Abakan through Novosibirsk or Krasnoyarsk – large Siberian cities. Usually these flights are cheaper by 2,000–3,000 rubles than from Moscow. There is also a train from Novosibirsk – the cost of a seat starts from 2,500 rubles . The journey takes almost 23 hours.

Routes from Krasnoyarsk are more varied. The train from here will be on the way for 11 hours, and a ticket for it will cost 1,600–2,000 rubles . It will be faster to get there by bus: they run almost every hour and reach Abakan in 7-9 hours. The cost of a place is from 1,300 rubles .

A trip from Krasnoyarsk with BlaBlaCar will be even cheaper – carriers usually set prices in the region of 700-1,000 rubles. It will take 5-7 hours to get to the capital of Khakassia by car.

Where to stay in Khakassia

All sightseeing tours in Khakassia begin in its capital – Abakan. And if you want to quickly escape to the bosom of nature, choose tourist bases and sanatoriums : ethno-glamping “Kyug” or resorts of Lake Shira. The cost of staying in them ranges from 2,000 to 20,000 rubles per night.

Hotels and hostels in Abakan

If you are interested in comfortable accommodation, then take a look at the Chalpan Hotel, located not far from the recreation area . Nearby there is a park, a bicycle zone and a beach. Single and double rooms cost 4,200 and 4,800 rubles per night.

Another Abakan hotel – ” Khakassia ” – is located in the very center of the capital, next to restaurants and coffee shops. From it it is convenient to get to almost anywhere in the city. The cost of accommodation is from 2,950 to 4,550 rubles per night.

Sports complex “Abakan”. Rest zone. Photo: Yuri Amosov / Wikimedia Commons

A place in a hostel will cost less. In “Lukomoriya “, for example, you can rent a bed for 350 rubles in an eight-bed room or rent a room for 450-1,000 rubles. And ” Casting Yard “, stylized as a European town, offers tourists a bed for 500 rubles in a six- or nine-bed room. Family rooms are also rented here: for two people – 1,400-1,600 rubles, for four – 2,600 rubles.

Cian has offers for daily rental housing. For example, a studio in the city center, next to an amusement park, will cost 1,999 rubles per night. And a cozy one-room apartment opposite Preobrazhensky Park is at 1,700.

Yurt hotel “Kyug”

The trend of ethno-glamping, which is now popular, is developing very actively in Khakassia: a couple of years ago, the Kyug Hotel was opened in the center of the Kazanovka Museum-Reserve. Accommodation in it will cost 1,500–3,500 rubles per person.

Yurt hotel “Kyug”. Frame: Kartazon Dream / YouTube

The number of rooms consists of 15 yurts, created in the likeness of the national dwelling of the Khakass. In each there are two separate beds, on the “female” side and on the “male” side. Amenities include electrical outlets, wardrobes, a washbasin, a heater and a mirror. The toilet, unfortunately, is only shared – in a separate building.

The hotel provides guests with three meals a day, including the national dishes of the Khakas: sour cream potkha, mutton broth myun and milk vodka.

As additional services, the administration offers a bathhouse, horseback riding and an entertainment program – a concert from the national Khakass ensemble.

In addition, a shaman works here, who can be invited to conduct a magical ritual of communicating with spirits. Tapping on the tambourine, the keeper of ancient knowledge enters a trance and performs ritual movements around the fire. True, such services are not cheap – from 15,000 rubles.

Hotels and recreation centers near Lake Shira

Usually tourists are accommodated in the village of Zhemchuzhny – the closest to the reservoir. One of the popular sanatoriums here is ” Lake Shira “. The cost of a single economy room is 1,330 rubles without food and treatment. The standard rate, which includes wellness activities and complex meals, is 4,370 rubles per night.

If you are not planning a sanatorium vacation, you can stay at the Geophysicist base. It offers several accommodation options: in an economy car (850 rubles per night), in a hotel room (950 rubles) or in a cottage (from 1,050 rubles). For 200 rubles you can camp on the territory of the base in a tent .

One of the resorts of Lake Shira. Frame: Travel Paxa & Lina / YouTube

If you prefer extreme conditions, you can come as a savage and stay by the lake in sleeping bags. To do this, you should check the weather forecast in advance.

How to get around Khakassia

Khakassia offers many tourist routes scattered over an area of 60,000 km². Therefore, if you prefer autonomous trips, think about renting a car – the daily cost for specialized services starts from 2,400 rubles . On “Avito” you can find more budget options – from 1,000 rubles per day.

In addition, sightseeing buses from Abakan run around the republic – you can see local attractions located far from the capital as part of a group. The cost of such trips varies between 850–4,500 rubles.

You can get to the recreation center by regular bus – tickets are purchased at the box office of the bus station. The administration of the hotel complexes also offers its sightseeing tours around the area.

What sights of Khakassia are worth seeing

It is very easy to get confused in tourist destinations – there are many cultural monuments and natural objects in the republic that are interesting for a tourist to look at. Therefore, we have collected the main ones that will serve as a guide for you.

Khakassian Museum of Local Lore

The building stands out from the rest: it is made in the form of a large yurt. The local history museum has many exhibits. For example, giant stone sculptures – menhirs, whose age is comparable to the age of the Egyptian pyramids. Or traditional household items: stone mills, chosi amulets and silver jewelry.

Khakassian Museum of Local Lore. Frame: in Moscow / YouTube

Khakassia is called the Mecca of Siberian archeology – and this is no coincidence. The republic is considered one of the richest in finds: according to WWF , more than 30,000 above-ground archeological monuments have been found here.

The museum’s children’s programs deserve special attention. On the game route “Secret Signs” the children will be offered to unravel the secrets of rock paintings, and the quest “Young Archaeologist” will allow participants to feel like real seekers of antiquities. Surely children will also be interested in traditional Khakass games – khazykh and tobit, the rules of which will be explained by the guides.

Mount Samokhval

Here is a memorial complex dedicated to the memory of soldiers who died in different eras defending the Fatherland. This place has been considered sacred since ancient times. Previously, it was called Ir-tag, or Male mountain. Young men came here to the stones of war to report to the spirits about their victories and ask for strength for future battles.

Mount Samokhval. Frame: Azimuth video magazine / YouTube

The entrance to the memorial is the Khalkha Gate, passing through which, according to traditional belief, one can purify the soul . Behind them are the Square of Sorrow with a sculpture of an ancient warrior made in bronze, and an alley of Districts dedicated to the memory of those who died during the Great Patriotic War.

However, the locals call Samokhval the Mountain of Love. Newlyweds come here to admire the beautiful view of the city and tie a ribbon as a sign of fidelity.

Sayano-Shushenskaya HPP

This is the largest and most powerful hydroelectric power plant in Russia. The height of its dam reaches 242 m, which is almost twice as high as the pyramid of Cheops. The uniqueness of the design of the SSHHPP lies also in the fact that it is “mounted” in the mountains.

In order to implement such an engineering solution, it took a huge amount of concrete – it would be enough to build a highway from Moscow to Vladivostok .

And the graffiti “RUSSIA” was also applied to the dam of the SSHHPP, which became the largest inscription in the world with the name of the country – 570 m long and 52 m high. Over 9,000 liters of paint were used for the tricolor letters.

Sayano-Shushenskaya HPP. Frame: OVER THE MOUNTAINS / YouTube

Until 2021, tourists could not get to the SSHPP. Now it is possible, but only as part of a group from an accredited travel agency. Therefore, sightseeing buses from Abakan often go to the SSHHPP.

Here you can take photos on the observation decks, visit the museum of the hydroelectric power station, the engine room and the trout farm, as well as ride a boat on the reservoir. By the way, the only tram in Khakassia runs from the nearest village to the SSHGES, and it is free.

Trout farm. Frame: Kartazon Dream / YouTube

Museum-reserve Kazanovka

5 minutes from the yurt hotel “Kyug”, which we wrote about above, there is a museum complex. A tour of it will cost 600 rubles. In the process, they will show how the traditional Khakas dwelling looked like before, let them grind barley to make talkan, and explain how ordinary people can become shamans.

Museum-reserve “Kazanovka”. Frame: TV Extra / YouTube

And they will also tell the legend about the old man Apsakh and the old woman Hoarfrost, who quarreled so much that they turned into stones. At the place of their discord, the Ah-tas menhir is installed – a statue that, according to Khakass beliefs, improves health.

In order to ask the stone for strength, you need to approach it, bow and go around it three times: for women – from the south side, for men – from the north. Then touch the menhir and make a wish.

Ah-tas. Frame: TV Extra / YouTube

Tour guides warn that staying near the stone for more than 10 minutes is not recommended: Akh-tas stands on the site of a geomagnetic fault, and an increased level of radiation is observed here.

Museum “Ulug Khurtuyakh Tas”

Not far from the village of Askiz is the Museum of the Big Stone Old Woman. The central figure in it is the statue of the goddess Ymai, the patroness of motherhood. Its age is comparable to the age of the Great Wall of China.

The legend says that Ulug Khurtuyakh Tas was an ordinary woman who had to see the death of her own children. She turned to the spirits, begging them to ease her suffering. They heard her and turned her to stone.

Now women pilgrims flock to him from all over Russia, who ask the goddess for children and for deliverance from infertility .

Left: Ulug Khurtuyakh Tas in the museum. Photo: Anadolu‑olgy / Wikimedia Commons. Right: a shaman performs the ritual of feeding Ulug Khurtuyakh Tas. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

In the museum, you can perform a ritual of turning to Ymai: for this, you need to smear Khurtuyakh Tas’s mouth with sour cream, and then pour araka (milk vodka) on it, all the while pronouncing your request.

Museum staff can arrange a solemn meeting of guests in Khakass clothes and according to national rites, organize excursions around the territory and even hold a wedding ceremony with marriage.

Lake Shira

Shira is a popular lake in Khakassia. It is adjacent to many sanatoriums and hotels. The first health resorts appeared here in 1891, and the place became the first resort in the Yenisei province. Some excursion programs start from here – for example, to the ancient observatory of ancestors or to the most terrible cave in Russia.

Shira is the Russified Khakass word “Cheese”, which means “Medicinal” in translation. And for good reason: due to its unique composition, water has a healing effect on people with diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, musculoskeletal system, genitourinary, nervous systems and others. It is even compared with the water of the Batalinsky spring in the Caucasus. The salt concentration in them is almost the same – 17-20 g / l.

Lake Shira. Photo: Arina Akhmetova / Wikimedia Commons

Entertainment events are also held on the Shira: excursions, parties, quests. Hotels often have tennis tables, volleyball nets, and children’s playgrounds.

Tuim failure

This is a deep depression in the mountain, partially filled with water of an unusual bright turquoise color. Previously, there was a mine in which tungsten, copper and molybdenum were mined. However, in 1974 the main reserves dried up and the mine was closed.

Soon, underground mountain channels began to collapse and a depression 6 m in diameter formed at the top. It constantly expanded, and animals began to fall there. To avoid accidents, the mountain was blown up – a failure was formed, which was then protected by barriers.

Tuim failure. Photo: Dmitry Burmatov / Shutterstock

Now fans of extreme sports come here: base jumpers, bungee jumpers, divers. In summer, a bungee is set up here and excursions are conducted.

For a fee, you can get to the bottom of the failure – go down from the top along a specially equipped ladder or go through a half-flooded tunnel used during the operation of the mine.

It is not surprising that in the 2000s the Fear Factor program was filmed here.

Kashkulak cave

Considered one of the creepiest caves in the world. Children and pregnant women are often not allowed here. Particularly impressionable people are also advised to avoid such excursions.

The fact is that the Kashkulak cave is covered with many myths. For 2,000 years, it has been a place of worship for shamans: here they called on the spirits of their ancestors and performed sacrifices, including human ones. Because of the rituals performed with the use of fire, the walls of the grottoes are covered with petrified soot.

Many travelers, scientists and even experienced speleologists say that they experienced an inexplicable fear in this cave: nervousness turned into panic .

For example, a member of one of the research expeditions, I. Baranovsky, recalled that people were suddenly seized with horror and they rushed at full speed towards the light, overtaking each other and throwing equipment. Some saw hallucinations – the White Shaman, who called them after him.

Kashkulak cave. Photo: STJUHA/Shutterstock

Despite this, the Kashkulak cave is a popular tourist route. The tour can be booked at the resort “Lake Shira” and in the village of Zhemchuzhny. Or go as part of an independent speleological group.

Travelers are usually taken along the upper tier, including the most popular grotto – the Temple. It is there that there is a large phallic stalagmite – a symbol of fertility among the Khakas.

Path of the Ancestors

This is a rocky massif about 5 km long near the village of Efremkino. The original name in the Khakass language sounds like “Togyz az” – that is, “Nine mouths”. The fact is that on the path of the path there are nine large grottoes, similar to open mouths. Neolithic people lived in some of them – rock paintings dating back 4.5 thousand years testify to this.

For the locals, the trail is sacred: it is believed that walking along it cleanses the soul and gives strength . Some people think that shamans still perform rituals here.

Path of the Ancestors. Frame: Kartazon Dream / YouTube

At the end of the route, tourists encounter the most difficult sections: the rocky path turns into a slippery descent to the cave. You need to go into it, wash yourself with water and exit from the other side. With the help of this rite, according to legend, you can make a spiritual rebirth.

But even if tourists are not attracted by the esoteric side of the issue, it will still be interesting to walk along the trail: from the tops of the ridges a magnificent view of the valley of the White Iyus River opens up. In addition, this walk really helps to escape from everyday thoughts.

Mountain Range Chests

The massif got its name because of the top of one of the mountains, from a distance resembling a huge parallelepiped. The Khakass call this place “Khyzyl Khaya” – “Red Rock”. All thanks to the characteristic color of the Devonian sandstone that makes up the mountains. Five Chests are usually distinguished – they are all located in the White Iyus valley, not far from the village of Efremkina.

Researchers believe that the ridge is the oldest open-air observatory in Asia . This purpose of the place is indicated by holes and openings in the rocks, oriented to the points of sunrise and sunset of heavenly bodies. Mostly such details are found on the First Chest.

Mountain Range Chests. Photo: Purgin_Alexandr / Pixabay

An interesting fact: on the days of the equinox and solstice, you can meet followers of the New Age here. They dance and perform other esoteric rituals.

At the Fifth Chest you can see an ancient sundial – one of the first in the East. Here’s what they look like: one of the rocks depicts a dragon cut into six parts. Until noon, the shadow of the wall moves from left to right, passing one division per hour. At 12, the stone is fully illuminated. And in the evening the shadow from the wall goes from right to left.

Mountain Range Chests. Frame: Kartazon Dream / YouTube

The fourth Chest is also of great interest: unique petroglyphs have been preserved on its slopes – a kind of Khakass comics that tell about the life and beliefs of their ancestors. The local images are on average about 4,000 years old.

The most famous drawing is located on the slope of Mount Solban – “White Horse”. He is at least 16,000 years old. This is the only such ancient image in Russia, made in a similar technique. Others can only be seen in Europe.

Rock painting “White Horse”. Photo: Lera Babitskaya / Lifehacker

Chests offer a picturesque view of the steppe, rivers and a system of irrigation canals, some of which were built in the early Middle Ages .

What souvenirs to bring from Khakassia

Printed products

There is a large assortment of postcards and bookmarks with high-quality reproductions of petroglyphs – ancient rock paintings.

You can also buy children’s coloring books with poems in the Khakass language and books published by the local printing house. For example, collections of fairy tales, in which, in addition to stories in the national language, there is a literary translation into Russian.

Figurines and dolls

Local artisans make small figurines of menhirs, shamans, warriors, totemic animals such as bear , elk or wolf. Maral horn, marble, jadeite and clay are used as materials.

Doll in Khakassian national costume handmade. Frame: GTRK Khakassia / YouTube

Doll collectors will be delighted with handmade goods – you can find both rag toys made from scraps, and highly artistic examples with thin porcelain faces in national costumes.

Decorations

From time immemorial, silver in Khakassia was valued above gold: it was believed that it fills a person with vitality. Therefore, there are many earrings and rings with ethnic ornaments, the design of which is very different from the assortment in ordinary jewelry stores.

You can also bring a national decoration – pogo as a gift. This is a breastplate that protects its owner from evil spells. It is decorated with beads and shells.

Candy from talkan

These national sweets are sold in Abakan confectionery shops – for example, in Malinniki. Friends and relatives can bring copies in beautiful gift boxes on which local legends and interesting facts about Khakassia are written.

If you want to practice making this dessert yourself, buy a talkan separately – it is sold in almost every grocery store.

Taiga products

Pine cones and nuts are a Siberian feature. They are cheaper here than in the European part of Russia. It is also worth taking a closer look at preserves and jams from taiga berries, balms and cosmetics . Herbal teas from Khakass plants are also highly valued.

Honey comb. Photo: Pass the Honey / Unsplash

Also a popular souvenir is taiga and meadow honey. It is best to buy it in the market from local beekeepers. There it is most often natural and inexpensive – from 500 rubles per kilogram.

National musical instruments

Khakassia has its own recognizable music. Professionals will be interested to get acquainted with the stringed chatkhan and bowed khomus – these are complex instruments, playing them requires special training. They are not sold in all stores.

But the jew’s harp is a fairly common and easy-to-learn reed idiophone. It is most often made of steel, due to which its sound is lower than that of the Altai counterpart. Many also bring shaman tambourines as a gift – they are easy to find in souvenir shops.

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