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Probably the best sunsets in the world

By Vera Salnitskaya, photographer
21 June 2013

Welcome to Mariinsky Pass in Altai Mountains, all ready and waiting for your admiration

Welcome to Mariinsky Pass, Altai Mountains. Picture: Vera Salnitskaya

This is not (yet) one of the world's most sought for destinations, nor was it mentioned in local myths or legends -  but it does claim to have the best sunsets in the world. So you can locate it, Mariinsky Pass is in the Ust-Kansky district of the Altai Republic in southern Siberia.

It is 1,335 metres high and local guide books describe it as 'a pass with incredibly picturesque, beautiful views'. 

Well, we will not be arguing with that. 

Mariinsky Pass, Altai Mountains by Vera Salnitskaya


Mariinsky Pass, Altai Mountains by Vera Salnitskaya


Mariinsky Pass, Altai Mountains by Vera Salnitskaya


Mariinsky Pass, Altai Mountains by Vera Salnitskaya

What is it they say about sunsets in Bali being some of the most magnificent in the world? If there is a competition, we want to be in it here in Altai. Pictures: Vera Salnitskaya

The guide books add that the pass is covered with mixed birch and larch trees, but for some reason don't mention that one of its main treasures (after the sun goes down) are stunningly beautiful bright orange flowers which people in Siberia call 'oronyok' or 'zharok'. To the rest of the world they are known as Asian globeflowers or Trollius Asiaticus. 

Other than that, the travelogues don't say much, which is why we can call this enchanting place another one of Russia's great secrets. There are many.

When we arrived there and witnessed our first sunset here, we, too, were also lost for words. 

What is it they say about sunsets in Bali being some of the most magnificent in the world? If there is a competition, we want to be in it here in Altai.

Mariinsky Pass, Altai Mountains by Vera Salnitskaya


Mariinsky Pass, Altai Mountains by Vera Salnitskaya


Mariinsky Pass, Altai Mountains by Vera Salnitskaya

And even if I was asleep, the sky and the views  - breathtaking, making you feel yourself like a giant and like a drop of water at the same time - would still be there in all their beauty. The performance would still go on, without an audience. Pictures: Vera Salnitskaya 


My last before going to bed. No Photoshop here. 

Mariinsky Pass Republic of Altai

Mariinsky Pass, Altai Mountains. Picture: Vera Salnitskaya

What else is breathtaking about the Mariinsky Pass apart from the sunsets? The sunrises! 

Imagine it is five in the morning. You unzip your tent - and see the clouds, gently manoeuvring ahead of the big moment, and then the first sun rays are shining through to usher in the new day. The views are a a little similar to what you saw the night before, but not quite the same. Not a soul in sight. 

Some time ago I thought that I was waking up in the early hours only for the sake of some wow-look-at-them shots. Until one morning I realised that here we are, camping  on the Mariinsky pass. There are several cars with us and tents around - but right now everyone is asleep. I am the only witness to this daybreak in all its glory. 

And even if I was asleep, the sky and the views  - breathtaking, making you feel yourself like a giant and like a drop of water at the same time - would still be there in all their beauty. The performance would still go on, without an audience.

Mariinsky Pass Republic of Altai


Mariinsky Pass Republic of Altai


Mariinsky Pass Republic of Altai

Imagine it is five in the morning. You unzip your tent - and see the clouds, gently manoeuvring ahead of the big moment, and then the first sun rays are shining through to usher in the new day. The views are a a little similar to what you saw the night before, but not quite the same. Not a soul in sight. Pictures: Vera Salnitskaya

It is like in my childhood, when you believe that if you creep towards your bedroom, and suddenly open the door, then you might see your toys playing around on their own. This is what I feel when I open the tent in Altai, subconsciously expecting to see dryads or whoever else might be running out there around the mountains.    

This time the sunrise quickly turned into a drizzling rain which forced me come back into the tent. 

Looking at these pictures try to hear the sound of the rain drops tapping on the tent and the melody of numerous bells tied around the necks of cows and horses enjoying their lush pastures.

Then quickly the weather changed again, the sun came out, and we packed our tents to drive to the next destination. I wonder who we meet on the way?

Mariinsky Pass Republic of Altai


Mariinsky Pass Republic of Altai 


* One day the magical Altai Republic will be even a great name in world tourism - as it is now in Russia. 

Be like Vera Salnitskaya, a photographer from Novosibirsk who travels widely in Siberia, and discover it before the rush starts. 

See more of Vera's pictures here

Comments (5)

stunning pictures Vera
May , China
02/07/2013 16:37
3
0
gorgeous. I actually wish there were more pictures taken from different angles!
J , Portugal
24/06/2013 23:20
4
0
wonder how accessible it is for like usual foreign tourists? I see nothing about the pass in the Eng guide books
Tom, Slovakia
23/06/2013 17:41
5
0
Very very nice; are you allowed to camp with fire or?
Omar, Switzerland
22/06/2013 17:23
4
0
Ok I buy it! Thank you Vera, not to check the map and see how to get the Russian Visa...easy:)))
Mariusz, Warsaw
21/06/2013 18:50
8
0
1

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