“Aksu Zhabagyly” nature reserve
”Aksu Zhabagyly“ is the oldest and most famous nature reserve in Kazakhstan, the first one in Central Asia to receive the status of UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The reserve was founded on July 14, 1926, located in the spurs of the Western Tien-Shan at an altitude of 1,000 to 4,280 meters above sea level and covers an area of over 350,000 hectares.
The territory includes 6 high-altitude belts - foothill desert steppe, low-steppe belt, meadow-steppe, subalpine, alpine belt and severe nival belt of eternal snows at an altitude above 3600 meters above sea level. Rivers and lakes, waterfalls and glaciers, forests and steppes, canyons and passes - all these beauties are welcoming you!
Two landscape complexes of "Aksu Zhabagyly" stand out from the system of high-altitude belts. These are river valleys with narrow stripes of gallery leafy forest and the canyon of Aksu river - a real miracle of the nature!
Flora world of the reserve enjoys great diversity and picturesqueness. A motley mosaic of alpine flowers adorns the foot of mountain ranges with snowy peaks.
There are more than 1,300 species of higher plants, as well as over 450 species of mosses, algae, lichens and fungi. The most famous of the plants are, of course, the bright and tender Greig and Kaufmann tulips . But it will also be fascinating to observe in nature the rarest Maiden fern - Adiantum capillus-veneris, and Iridodictyum kolpakowskianum (Regel) iris, white balls of Pskem onion which grows only in this area. Turkestan archa, honeysuckle, barberry and currant, the whole diversity of forbs, abundance of rare trees - they all can only be seen here!
"Aksu Zhabagyly" nature reserve is the richest treasury of rare, endangered and endemic species of animals and birds. Within its territory, there live animals being characteristic for various landscapes of Europe, North Africa and Asia. There are argalis and mountain goats here, marals and roe deer, lynx and snow leopards, wolves and foxes, bears and porcupines, stone martens and ermine. According to UNESCO, 48% of all bird species and 72.5% of animals of the region live in ”Aksu Zhabagyly“ . The reserve is recognized to be one of the best bird watching places in the world. 12 species of daytime predatory birds nest here, 7 of them are listed in Kazakhstani Red Book. Here you can enjoy the rarest performance - rare species of butterflies fluttering above flower meadows. These are European swallowtails, Swordtails, Parnassians, Purple Emperors - 120 species of butterflies in total!