Traveling in tuva feels like exploring another planet
Alexei and Elena like to travel. Their first travel no more than 2000 km, but after five years, their demand increased: for short trips into stranger adventure, away from the dust float in the sky of city expressway, around the area of tourism and wild. This is the “grand route” planned for 18,000 kilometres from the Caucasus, kazakhstan, altai and tuva. We spoke to our heroes and listened to their separate journeys in the wilderness of tuva. This article describes their adventure details.
We dreamed of seeing tuva for a long time. For us, this is a desolate and remote land, immersed in the thousands of horror stories we have read on the Internet. Many traveller friends recommend us against tuva travel, because of the aggressive nature of the locals, who may attack tourists, rob and abuse them in various ways. Also, we listened to some ideas about why we shouldn’t be riding in such a place in any situation. The vehicle may break up or get stuck in the mud, graze with local people and so on. If at first we just turned it into a joke, here, on the lonely road of tuva, I finally realized that it was real and could be rather unpleasant.
But first things first.
Early summer, we reached the border of tuva. The snow on the surrounding hills is sliding into the local river. The road is unique, so we are not likely to run away. The only challenge was to conquer the 2500m Buguzun pass. The roads were almost impassable and melting snow fused the problem.
The fog is very thick and the minimalist scenery in the wild is amazing. Within 200 kilometers, we have not encountered any walking tourists, special suvs or locals. Tuva is definitely not a place to travel. But it was so beautiful.
It took us a long time to get used to the loneliness. Traveling in altai, you usually meet people from different areas. However, between tuva’s blue and green sanyan mountains, we only encounter some so-called “bread” UAZ, which is 200 percent of the local vehicle used by the tuwans. Such a car would never be less than 20.
That was the vehicle we encountered at the foot of the Buguzun pass. When we stopped to take a break, a “bread” with a tuwani licence popped up. Stopped, the driver approached me. Obviously, he wanted to investigate something. At the same time, a large group of people, almost half of the local village, gushed from UAZ. They were surprised to see our car and wanted to take a closer look. I remember my friend’s words: it’s not good for tuwans to like your car.
Fortunately for us, it was a peaceful encounter. The tuwans are asking Mr Kohiaga a fair question: the river in front of us has been rising because of the melting snow.
Generally speaking, the people we meet are absolutely normal and not hostile. The only problem is the language barrier. Tuwans are bad Russian. The older generation can still understand, but for young people, only imitation and gestures can be used to communicate.
At night, we began to look for a camp. On our way into a shepherd camp, the Mongolian yurt has just been erected over the summer. We talked about the conversation, but I did not mention that we were looking for a place to sleep. I asked more about the road and the way we had to cross. Even if we don’t plan to go there at night, I choose to give them false information so that when we sleep in the lonely hills, they don’t want to visit us.
We drove the car to the hill, not to attract attention, but waited until it was dark to set up camp. After dark, we made sure no one could see us and put up our tent and fell asleep.
A Buguzun pass at an altitude of about 2,500 meters. Even if we conquer the pass, we don’t take our burden to heart: there are too many challenges to deal with.
The first solution we get into is kyzyl-khaya. This is an absolutely crazy solution. We have the impression that people lived there three hundred years ago: in a semi-terrace and sun-dried clay hut. The only thing that connects this place with modernity is the “Russian post” sign of one of the houses. The cars we drive look so special, people stare at us as if we are aliens from space, and we choose not to stay too long and leave the settlement as soon as possible.
However, even before we arrived in kzeika, we had an adventure that let us steam. We had no other way to cross a flooded river, so we decided to “storm” without proper surveillance. In an instant, our hood sank under the water. Gathering speed and spreading the waves, we drove slowly, praying that we should not catch the tree trunk at the bottom of the river. When we feel a few seconds, our hearts sink. After that, you finally understand that if you were to ride a car in an uninhabited place, you might not make a mistake.
Yak. Very peaceful creatures that look like big hairy cows. They are very calm and have no choice but their own business. They brought a little excitement to the bleak landscape of tuva.