Uzbekistan Travel Information: Nature Reserves, National Parks, Flora and Fauna
Resources, Nature Reserves and National Parks of Uzbekistan
- Natural Resources
- Nature Reserves
- Flora and Fauna
- Uzgam-Chatkal National Park
- Kyzylkum Tugai and Sand Reserve
- Amankutan Gorge
Charvak Lake near Tashkent city
Natural Resources of Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan is abundant in both architectural and historic monuments, as well as in bucolic environmental beauty. There are idyllic parks to spend leisure time at, and botanical gardens to delight in. Visitors to Uzbekistan are charmed by the Japanese gardens in Tashkent, where one can find lovely ponds full of water lilies and many other aquatic plants. The Japanese gardens also have picturesque bridges which are often used by tourists for pretty photo opportunities, as well as by local brides and wedding parties. The grounds are meticulously maintained by professionals, providing a welcome respite in a charming atmosphere of natural beauty.
Uzbekistan is truly a showcase of biodiversity. Despite being much smaller in size, Uzbekistan contains almost the same level of biodiversity as the whole Russian Federation. According to official scientific reports, there are over forty mammal species, as well as four hundred thirty bird species and sixty reptile species. In addition, Uzbekistan is home to almost seventy different species of tree and more than three hundred and twenty shrub varieties.
Tours to Uzbekistan can also include sightings of nearly seventy -five fish species and three thousand different varieties of ornamental grasses. Among wild animal species, Uzbekistan is home to such beautiful creatures as Snow Leopard, Lynx, Tien-Shan Bear, plus many gentler species of wild animals like deer, pheasant and groundhogs. There is also a truly remarkable variety of butterflies in Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan, situated in the very heart of Central Asia, has a greatly varied terrain and rich biodiversity which are further enhanced by a very solid park system, established during the Soviet Union's period of control over the region. For this reason Uzbekistan has a solid basis for ecotourism development. The development of ecotourism projects would help in protecting the region's natural resources, as well as help to build up the strength of the local economy. However, even without being officially designated as a region of ecotourism project development, travelers already have long regarded this area of Central Asia as a treasure of beautiful natural resources well worth embarking on a tour of Uzbekistan.
Besides offering tourism within the park system for nature lovers, Uzbekistan has vast regions of virtually untouched nature outside of the parks system. These magnificent areas greatly increase the attraction of tourists to Uzbekistan. It should be noted, however, that some of the remote areas, such as many of the mountain regions, can be rough and hazardous for travelers. It is therefore advisable that these remote areas be traveled under the friendly supervision of experienced local tour guides, in order to provide a safe, memorable and exhilarating Uzbekistan travel experience.
More than 1000 years old Chinar tree
Uzbekistan Nature Reserves
There are nine functioning Nature Reserves in Uzbekistan for visitors to enjoy. The famous Zaamin Mountainous Forest, home of over seven hundred protected plant species, is located in the Turkestan Ridge. This reserve was founded in 1926 and is devoted to the conservation and preservation of nature. This beautiful reserve is covered in both alpine meadows and juniper forests. Travel to Uzbekistan is enhanced by a tour of the nature reserves, which is an enriching experience for both plant and animal enthusiasts.
Wild animal life is abundant in the Zaamin Mountainous Forest. The juniper forests are inhabited by both bear and lynx. The reserve also has several species of wolf, badger, fox, porcupine, rabbit, and wild boar. Here one can also find over three hundred wild mountain goats. One cannot help but admire the beautiful diversity of their coat markings, as well as the incredible agility of these sure-footed wild mountain goats.
Uzbekistan boasts an incredible variety of birds in this nature reserve of Central Asia. On a typical tour to Uzbekistan forest nature reserves, one can find stone grouse, larks, magpie, thrushes, rose starlings and kestrels. The juniper grosbeak is probably the most characteristic bird of the Uzbekistan juniper reserve. Also known as the pine grosbeak, these birds are a delight for bird-watchers due to their slow -moving and unwary nature. The males are plump gray and white birds, with bright scarlet markings on the head, chest and under -wings. These birds are also lovely songbirds, with a song sequence of clear, flute-like warbling notes. A variety of birds of prey also reside in this nature reserve. Some beautiful examples of birds of prey inhabiting this forest are the golden eagle, the sparrow hawk, the bearded vulture and the white-headed griffin. A delightful additional feature of this Uzbekistan forest reserve is the rare and stunning black stork, which can be found nesting in the Chantanga Gorge.
Pictures of Uzbekistan Nature Reserves
The famost Chimgan Mountain near the Tashkent city
Uzbekistan Flora and Fauna
Any tour of Uzbekistan cities is full of visual wonders and the excitement that the mixed cultural heritage embodies. Yet there is also an incredible amount of diversity to be found in the nature reserves of Uzbekistan, where there is extreme variety in not only the landscape, but animal and plant species as well.
Because Uzbekistan is centrally located between Middle Eastern, Asian, and European biogeographical regions, it is both regionally and globally important. For example, the blue skies over Uzbekistan are a vital flyway for many gorgeous species of migratory birds on their way to winter homes in Africa and other continents. The varying Uzbekistan landscape of high mountain ranges, wide steppes, wetlands, different kinds of deserts, and the Aral Sea resulted in a wide diversity of animal and plant habitats. It is estimated that Uzbekistan is home to over fifteen thousand species of animals and over eleven thousand plant species. This constitutes a veritable smorgasbord of delights for any nature-lovers who travel to Uzbekistan!
About eighty-five per cent of Uzbekistan is desert, including the largest desert in Central Asia, the Kyzyl-Kum Desert. There are several different kinds of desert, each with their own indigenous animals and plants. In the sand deserts one can find various rodents, including jerboas, squirrels and gerbils. There are also lizards and several bird species. Plant life includes perennial grasses. In the semi-desert areas there are geckos, toads, snakes, Central Asia tortoise, and gazelle. Plant life here includes perennial grasses and flowering and non-flowering annuals.
Mountain regions make up about fifteen per cent of Uzbekistan. Existing here are juniper forests with three different species of juniper. Lovely fescue grass is also among the type of shrubs and other plants that thrive in this area of Uzbekistan. Trees that grow in abundance in the mountain regions of Uzbekistan include wild apricot, apple, and plum. Among the animals to be found here are wild boar, fox, wolves, exotic birds, deer, and the Tien-Shan brown bear of Central Asia.
Uzbekistan is home to wetland regions and Oases, each with ecosystems unique unto themselves. As with all the various regions in Uzbekistan, these areas also have their own characteristic flora and fauna. In these lands there exist various kinds of lush vegetation, as well as many gorgeous animal species. Some of the amazing animals to be found here are herons, white pelicans, spotted pelicans, muskrats, badgers, lizards, toads, otters and deer. Among the endangered and protected animals in Uzbekistan are the spotted leopard, striped hyena and the cheetah.
The government of Uzbekistan is very involved with protection of its endangered species of plants and animals. There are fifteen nature reserves in Uzbekistan dedicated to the protection of the natural environment. Several of these are National Parks, where visitors and the local population are welcome. One reserve, located near the largest desert in Central Asia, the Kyzyl-Kum Desert, has the distinction of a view showing the startling contrast between two distinct ecological systems. This is the Kyzyl-Kum Tugai Forest and Sand Reserve, founded in 1971. At this location the desert interfaces with the flood lands of the Amu Darya River. On one side there is a wall of thick vegetation, while on the other side is a vast desert with sand dunes stretching to the horizon. Among the protected animals here are the White Owl and rare deer species.
The richness and variety of natural habitats in Uzbekistan has resulted in the high diversity of both plant and animal species. This combination creates a wonderfully unique experience that would thrill any tourist with an interest in nature who travels to Uzbekistan.
Uzgam-Chatkal National Park in Uzbekistan
Uzgam-Chatkal National Park
Founded in 1947, the Chatkal Mountainous Forest Reserve is situated on the west side of the Tien-Shan Mountain range, considered one of the most ecologically pristine regions in the world. A horticultural delight, visitors to Uzbekistan take pleasure in the more than forty species of shrub and over six hundred grass species. Juniper trees comprise a great deal of the mountain slopes, along with a wide variety of evergreen shrubbery. Along the river banks there are groves of gorgeous black and white - barked birch trees. An extraordinary collection of tree species, endemic to these mountains, are found growing and thriving in the reserve. Other trees not endemic to this region can also be found growing and thriving. Among those are walnut trees, wild fruit trees, pistachio trees, sea buckthorn, and rowan trees. Botanists have discovered a new species of mandrake growing here, an herb used by Tibetan doctors.
Chatkal Reserve is also home to a fascinating variety of wild animals. This enchanting reserve boasts forty-four species of mammals, including wild mountain goats, wild boar, fox, marmots and white-claw bear. High in the frosty mountains the beautiful snow leopard makes it home. There are zones here in the Uzbekistan reserve where endangered species are protected, such as the lovely Central Asian gazelle, known as jeyran. Also bred here under protection are the rare and magnificent Prezhevalskiy horses. Situated a relatively short distance outside the city of Tashkent, this nature reserve is a welcome attraction for those touring Uzbekistan. The forest is still as abundant and diverse, in terms of fauna and flora, as it was thousands of years ago. Uzbekistan tour guides point out the evidence that the area was settled by ancient man. One can still see their very early rock paintings and engravings. The area was appealing to early humans because of the abundance of wild game and fruit. Still present are the remains of ancient settlements and burial grounds.
Another noteworthy feature of Uzgam-Chatkal National Park reserve is the Chimgan-Charvak-Beldersay Resort Zone, named for the three complexes for health and recreation. In this area Uzbekistan tourists have the opportunity for thrilling adventures in the pristine outdoor environment. Besides admiring the spectacular scenery and observing rare specimens of plant and animal life, tours to Uzbekistan can include exhilarating rafting on the swiftly moving Uzgam mountain river. Uzbekistan tour guides can also escort travelers on tours of stalactite caves and the amazing underground "banquet hall", found at the Gaza mountain pass.
Recently opened on the north part of the Beldersay River is a Children's Ecological Reserve. Here professors guide and instruct youngsters in the study of the reserve. They learn about botany, zoology, soil, forestry and geography. The children assist in the research of the reserve, with the number one priority being the protection of all the plant and animal species inhabiting this region of Uzbekistan.
Traveling across Uzbekistan tourists can find a great variety of unique phenomena. One such example is Lake Aydarkul. Not long ago, Lake Aydarkul was a salt marsh depression closed to the public. In 1969 the Syr Darya River flooded tremendously, and the excess water had to be drained into this depression. In addition, water for the nearby Hunger Steppe was also drained into this depression. The resulting formation, a gigantic lake, is a geographical wonder. The lake is visited by tourists to Uzbekistan as well as locals who come to swim and camp out. The lake is now inhabited by several species of fish. The Aral Sea Zone, considered a very unique natural phenomenon, is an interesting sight on the tour of Uzbekistan. The Aral Sea, which was once an enormous inland reservoir ranking third in the world, has recently shrunk in size. Left behind is a virtual graveyard of ships sticking up from the sand.
Surprisingly, one can find yet another fascinating natural phenomena existing on the eastern edge of the Ustyurt Plateau. This is a colossal precipice which rivals the Grand Canyon. Yet this is still not the end of the list of unique marvels in Uzbekistan. In the region of Barsa-Kelmes there is an interesting formation of a natural two-meter thick layer of salt. This natural wonder is located in the middle of the Ustyurt Desert.
France, England and Norway are some of the few places on earth where there remains on the surface evidence of the formation of the earth's crust. Uzbekistan is included among the few countries having such evidence. This evidence of the early formation of the earth's crust is to be found at the Zerafshan Mountains, on the outer spurs of the mountain ridges. Here scientists are able to examine and conduct research on the natural, historically -formed rock layers. This is called stratigraphic research. The natural research materials, along with an amazing variety of sea fossils, draw the attention of many foreign specialists. In addition there are many well-preserved fossils of flora and fauna to be found, which are of great geological value. All interested parties who are involved in research have total access to Kitab State Geological Reserve, where there is a hotel, laboratories, offices, conference rooms and a museum for their convenience.
For those travelers to Uzbekistan who may be more interested in the views than in science, there are several mountain rivers cutting deeply throughout the mountain range. The resulting canyons are stunningly beautiful and scenic. The Zarafshan reserve is known for its tugai woods. "Tugai" is Turkish, meaning riverside woods in the deserts of Central Asia. This lovely green oasis specializes in the protection of a very rare and beautiful species of endangered Bukhara deer, called "khangl", or "royal flower". These dignified members of the deer family are a handsome animal with wide-spreading antlers. At present the deer inhabit two very large enclosures. When the herd population reaches a high enough count, they will be re-introduced to various habitats in the Uzbekistan reserves.
Pictures of Uzgam-Chatkal National Park in Uzbekistan
Nature Reserve: Kyzylkum Tugai and Sand Reserve
The most interesting feature by far of the Kyzylkum Tugai and Sand Reserve is that it interfaces two completely opposite ecological systems. Observers can actually see the marked division between the two different environments. On one side of the border there is dense, lush vegetation growing so thickly that it seems nearly impossible to pass through. On the other side is the dry sandy desert, stretching as far as the eye can see. The reason for this highly unusual phenomenon is that here is where the desert meets the flood lands of the Amu Darya River.
On the forest side of the border of this reserve, the air in spring is full of wild ducks, herons, river terns, turtledoves and sandpipers. Owl species also reside in the branches of the riverside willows and the beautiful poplar trees. In all there are approximately one hundred and ninety bird species inhabiting this area of Uzbekistan. The woods in the reserve are home to wolves, deer, wild boar, fox, and wild hares. On the desert side of the border there are sand dunes and desert, inhabited by the kinds of creatures evolved for this harsh environment. Among those are scorpion and snakes. This Forest and Sand reserve is a good example of the natural extremes Uzbekistan is known for.
Natural Resources of Uzbekistan: Amankutan Gorge
Amankutan Gorge, situated near Samarkand Province, is renowned as having one of the most intensely scenic views in Uzbekistan. Here visitors can delight in wooded mountains and cascading waterfalls. Many varieties of flowering plants thrive in this region, including a tulip species which is a direct ancestor of the modern