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Aksu-Zhabagly Nature Reserve

This beautiful 1319-sq-km patch of valleys and mountains climbing to the Kyrgyz and Uzbek borders east of Shyekent is the longest established (1926) and one of the easiest visited of Kazakhstan's nature reserves. The reserves, at the west end of the Talassky Alatau range, stretch from the edge of the steppe at about 1200m up to 4239m at Pik Sayram. The main access point is the village Zhabaghly, 70kms east of Shymkent as the crow flies longest-runing and best orginsed ecotourism programmes.
 Aksu-Dzhabagly is promoted as the home of the tulip, and in April and May its alpine meadows are dotted with the wild bright-red Greig's tulip. Wildlife you stand a chance of spotting includeds bears, ibex, argali sheep. paradise flycatchers and golden eagles. The scenery, a mix of green valleys with rushing rivers, snow-capped peaks and high-level glaciers, is gorgeous. You can visit any time of year, but the best months to come are April to September.
Highlights include: the giant Aksu Canyon (15 km long and 500 m deep), the Burgulyk Gorge, lakes Kyzyl-kol and Balyktin and their two powerful underground springs, the Akbiik karst cave with its stalactite and stalagmite galleries and underground lake, as well as the Kelte-Mashat Gorge (a 10-km long canyon and its 'Crying Cave'). The Aulie and Karabastauc paleontology sites lay on the Karatau ridge, 120 km to the northeast of the main reserve. Their petroglyphs, carved into dark shiny stone and dating back to the 5-7th cc B.C., lay over 3,000 m above sea level and depict wild and domestic animals, hunting scenes and the daily lives of our ancestors. Well preserved petrified imprints of the ancient local inhabitants - plants, fish, insects, and pangolins - are also found in shale deposits there.Flora and Fauna
The climate is very continental with an average temperature of 4.9°C in the coldest months and + 21.6°C in the warmest . The average annual rainfall averages 400-700 mm (up to 850- 900 mm at higher altitudes), mainly in spring.

Landscapes: dry semi-desert and steppe mountain foothills turn to forests of treelike junipers, and dry valleys into luxuriant alpine meadows, snow and glaciers. Here the high-altitude flora grows in its entire splendor. A mosaic of multi-colored alpine flowers adorns the foothills of peaks covered in dazzling snow and bluish hanging glaciers.

The flora includes forests (mostly shrubs) occupying 35% of the total area. Primarily, these include dwarf wood formations of archa (Juniperus turkestanski) (45%) and bushes of honeysuckle (lonicera, 12%), Juniperus semiglobosa (8%) and Juniperus seravshanica (5%).The small but hardly Celtis caucasica grows near the Amarantus grandifolia, a rich source of essential oils. In spring, thousands of crimson tulips set the mountain slopes ablaze and the delicate flowers of the Morina Kokanica burst in pinkish clumps. Tulips, cultivated in Holland as a major industry, are descended from species such as the Greig's and Kaufman tulips, which flourish here.

Environmental impact
Observe the rules of Specially Protected Natural Area (SPNAs). Please stay on the route: use only existing tracks and stops. Do not disturb living animals and plants and observe them from a distance. Do not follow approach or feed them. Avoid making loud noises.

Don't buy products made from endangered animals or plants and avoid products that are illegally traded. Please do not leave any non-degradable waste behind: what you take into the park you must take out.

Learn more about projects that are beneficial both to the environment as well as to local communities and make your own contribution.

Remember that you are visiting an area designated specially for the conservation of natural conditions and processes and that your actions should not disturb them in any circumstances. Funds received as a fee for entering the protected area will be used for the conservation of biological and cultural diversity.

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