Katon-Karagai district, Kazakhstan August 10-23, 2022

Refuge in a land of honey

Russian settlers in East Kazakhstan

In the days of Imperial Russia, in these borderlands, villages along the Bukhtarma river sheltered runaway serfs, escaped prisoners, Old Believer religious dissidents and other refugees from the Russian government. Despite the persecutions of Imperial and Soviet times, many unique cultural and religious traditions have been documented here by past expeditions — funeral customs, wedding rituals, tales of bears and mythological beings, and oral histories of well-remembered ancestors.

Some of those ancestors brought bee-keeping equipment and swarms of bees which thrived among the mountain wildflowers. Today, two centuries later, bee-keeping and honey play an important role in the local economy. Our team will interview local beekeepers in their mountain apiary, and spend a day at the regional “Honey Savior” folk festival to document the songs, dances and traditional crafts.

Expedition housing will range from a hotel in the city to a rented village house to rooms in a guest house. All have electricity, some have indoor plumbing, and some have a Russian-style steam bath. Meals will be prepared by local cooks, but team members are expected to handle some routine household chores.

Arrive and depart through:
Ust Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan

Altai bee hives
Colorful bee hives produce the famous Altai honey.

Please note: dates and fees are approximate at this time.

About This Expedition

  • Dates:

    August 10, 2022 to August 23, 2022

  • Location:

    Katon-Karagai district, Kazakhstan

Meet The Team

  • head shot of woman, trees in background

    Dr. Alevtina Tsvetkova

    Professor of Russian Philology, specializing in Folklore, at Pavlodar State University in Pavlodar, Kazakhstan

    Dr. Tsvetkova has been making folklore expeditions to Siberia and the Altai Mountains (on both sides of the Russia/Kazakhstan border) since 1983. Her special interests include family folklore, family life-cycle rituals, and the contemporary role of folk legend and belief.