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Kugitang Nature Reserve

Dinosaur PrintThe Kugitang State Nature Reserve was organised 11/07/1986, and is situated on the west slope of the Kugitangtau Mountains, representing spur of Gissars range of great mountain system Pamiro-Alay. The territory of the Reserve is 27,139 ha. The main aim of the Reserve creation is the protection of the unique nature of the Kugitang mountain range, and its bordering territories and the development of the sensible ecosystems and in particular the protection of Capra falconeri (a very rare species of wild goat included into the Red Data Book of CITES).

The climate of the reserve and its bordering territories is very peculiar. Average annual precipitations makes up 402 mm decreasing at the foothills and increase up to 700-800 mm on the top of the mountains . In spring shower rains in the mountaineaous canyons sometimes result in mud floods and land slides.

The name of the Kugitang (or Koytendag in Turkmen) mountains characterises the specifics of its relief. Its name came from the Persian "kuhi" and Turkic "teng" and means "almost impassable mountains". The mountain terrain is cut with numerous valleys and deep canyons, the longest of which is Hodjachilgazbaba with a length of 28 km. The steep walls of Daraya canyon can reach up to 600 m. The upper slopes of the mountains plateau is covered by forest consisting of walnut, maple, juniper (archa) and wild grape. The whole year round a stream of cold clear water flows under the shady trees. The Umbardepe canyon with its vertical hillsides and with an amazing waterfall of 27 m, absolutely strikes one's imagination.

Kugitang region is located close to the border with Uzbekistan in the east of Turkmenistan. In this area one can see the Kugitang - Tau mountains with the peak Aira Baba - the highest point in Turkmenistan - 3,137m above the sea level, a grandiose canyon "Um-bar Depe" with 28m waterfalls, the plateau of Dinosaurs with 438 footprints of Dinosaurs, a unique - hydrogen sulphate water spring "Kainar Baba", canyon "Kyrk gyz", carst caves. Not only the Kugitang flora, but also its fauna is unique: on the foothills of the Kopetdag mountains one can see a spiral homed goat, a rare Buldiara species of a mountainous ram.

The reserve is located on the bounder of Uzbekistan and covering the extreme south - eastern portion of our country. The main areas are the Kugitang - Tau mountain ridge, a grandiose canyon "Umbar Depe" with striking 28m waterfall, the world - wide famous plateau of Dinosaurs (with 438 footprints), a unique sulfur - hydrogen spring "Kainar Baba", canyon "Kyrk gyz", carst caves. Here one can clearly see a panorama of the Aira - Baba peak, the highest peak in Turkmenistan, which is 3137 m above sea level. Not only the Kugitang flora, but also its fauna is unique: only here, on the foothills of the Kopetdag Mountains can you see a spiral horned goat, a rare Bukhara subspecies of a mountainous ram. Kyrk Gyz Gorge

The Caves

Ninety million years ago when modern deserts territory of Central Asia was soaked by plantiful rains and big ocean splashed near young mountains, the water begins to dissolve rocks and to search shelter in new caves. After that the caves had been drived by clay and kept for a long time from Neogene till Middle Quaternary. The mountains had risen together with the caves full of clay, then the clay was washed away and the karst system was born once one.

First mention about caves we find in "Diodorus Siculus Library" about 2000 years ago. The discovery of smugglers mumy with goods in cave tolds that caves had been used by smugglers as a shelter in XVIII-XIX centries. The name of the main caves of the ridge Cupp-Coutan can been translated from Turkmen as sheep-fold that witnesses about caves' utilization in human history. New discovery of caves was made by the Ashkhabad's geologist Yalkapov in 1956. Yalkapov found several of caves and made first maps of caves. However the fame of the caves was connected with the beginning of industrial extraction of marble onyx and following public activity for caves protection. The fame of caves in scientistic circles was due to the works of Maltsev, who periodicaly published scientific and popular articles about researches and protection of caves. The best maps of caves and a list of caves minerals were also made by Maltsev. During last years there was a hope to organise in the cave something to show the tourists. But it's impossible because this ridge isn't often visited by tourists. That's why this project willn't been worthwhile. Now most of the Russian cavers consider that Kougitang Caves are the most beatiful and interesting. American reader will have better understanding of speleothems types Kougitang Caves by analogy to Lechuguilla Cave in American Carlsbad Caverns Park. There are many different legends about Kougitangtow caves.

An absolute wonder of these beautiful sports is the so-called Karlyuk caves. A Cafe - hall of small and low grottos with stalactites and stalagmites, columns in the shape of big candles, minarets, webs and needles is a real fantastic view. Another attraction is the Gulshirin cave. The cave entrance is very narrow, only 0,5 m high. A really wonderful hall "Fairy Tale" with its gypsum curtain and stucco moulding of ceiling, decorated with aragonite "roses" and other "flowers" of unbelievable beauty impress. MarkhorEvery cave has its own collection of mineral unusual forms and it's very difficult to describe them. Its worth to visit them. In the region the carst forming process is developing, and as the result there is a lot of various caves, mines, and traveling paths. The first one is the Kap - Kutan cave. The amazing first hall of the cave is known as the Farther Christmas and Snow Maiden. These two huge sized fairy figures are among unusual in shape stalactites of calcite and gypsum.The The cave entrance is very narrow, only 0,5 m high. And at last a really wonderful hall 'Fairy Tale'. The walls of this wonder are of gypsum curtain, there is stucco molding of ceiling aragonite 'roses' and other 'flowers' of unbelievable beauty. In Kugitang every cave has a real mineral variety of unusual forms. It's difficult to express our impression of wonderful things of such nature.

Itineraries for this area:
Kugitang Trekking

Link to the Kugitang cave

Guided Tour - continue reading:

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