All news


Exchange rates


14 November 2009 About Nuratau-Kyzylkum Biosphere Reserve

General information about guesthouses.

Within the territory of the future Nuratau-Kyzylkum Biosphere Reserve, tourist guesthouses are located amongst
the walnut forest gardens of the green valleys of Hayat, Uhum, Asraf, Madjerum villages in the Farish district of Djizzah region
and Sentyab village in the Nurata district of Navoi region. They are designed and constructed in a traditional rural manner.
Mountain streams pass by tapchans, which are comfortable platforms where you can take tea, nuts, and various national dishes,
or a glass of wine or beer. All three houses have all the most necessary living facilities such as bedrooms, outdoor showers and toilets,
electricity and drinking water. Those who wish can take part in baking traditional bread in a clay tandyr oven.
There are few places in Uzbekistan where tourists have a better chance to experience everyday rural life.
After a relaxing day of hiking, horse riding, participating in housework or traditional handicrafts you can take a refreshing shower under the open sky.
You can choose whether you want to sleep on tapshans under the bright Milky Way or in specially prepared bedrooms.
Due to the variety of mountain, steppe, desert and wetland habitats the area is famous for its bird diversity.
There are many opportunities, particular during spring and autumn, to witness “Kupkari” events – a traditional game on horseback.
This archaic spectacle will be unforgettable for any visitor.   
Visitors also have a chance to purchase traditional Tajik handicrafts to remember their fascinating trip.

Tourism potential.

The main interest of area for tourists is to experience the real culture and environment of Uzbekistan not found in the established
tourist cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, etc. Its favorable geographical location on-route to Samarkand, Bukhara,
and Tashkent makes the future Nuratau-Kyzylkum Biosphere Reserve an attractive tourism destination.
From each of these cities it can be reached in not more than a 3-4 hours drive. Additionally, not far away from the guesthouses
in the Nuratau mountains there are also popular yurt camps in the Kyzylkum desert close to the Aydarkul lake.
Excursions to these places can be organized at the guesthouses. All this provides the perfect opportunity to diversify and broaden
the classic ancient city holiday experience in Uzbekistan. Those with particular wildlife interests will also appreciate the wide natural
diversity of the area. An important tourist attraction is the opportunity to view the endemic and highly endangered Severtsov Agali (Kyzylkum Wild Sheep).
Bird watchers will find a wide range of bird species inhabiting the future Nuratau-Kyzylkum Biosphere Reserve (link to bird check list).

Their unusual local lifestyle provides a unique opportunity to experience everyday life of rural Tajik and Uzbek population.
Tourists can for instance stay in traditional clay houses, sleep on tapchans in the gardens, discover traditional water-mills and ancient handicraft.
They will have a chance not only to watch but also to take part in spinning and weaving processes or in the production of colorful
felt-carpets and national music instruments. In spring almost every household produces on a small scale raw silk.

On the territory of the future Nuratau-Kyzylkum Biosphere Reserve Uzbek, Tadjik, Kazakh, Russian and other nationalities live peacefully together.
Independent of their nationality the region’s population is famous for its hospitality. On their way through the villages any visitor
will be repeatedly invited to join meals with local families. Popular traditional dishes are for instance fried lamb, plov, mutton soup
and refreshing sour milk drinks. Tourists have a chance to eat mulberries, cherries, apricots, peaches, grapes, pistachios, almonds,
walnuts and many more straight from the tree. Intensive sun and delicious spring water gives locally cultivated tomatoes, cucumber,
paprika and herbs a unique taste. The territory has been certified by international organizations as a supply area for organic food.
Almonds, walnuts, dried cherries and apricots from the future Nuratau-Kyzylkum Biopshere reserve are sold on European and American organic food markets.

In spring and autumn Kup-kary become a part of village life. The Uzbek name Kup-kary literally means “work of many people”.
The game is also known as Ulak and called Kozlodran’ye in Russian.
Kup-kary is the most popular type of equestrian sport, not only among Tajiks and Uzbeks,
but also among other neighboring nations such as Kazakhs, Kyrgyz’s, Afghans, Karakalpaks and Turkmens.
Every nation calls the game differently, however, despite minor differences; the goal of the game is the same:
to gain and deliver a dead goat to a target area.
The most crowded Kup-kary are usually held during weddings. Traditionally weddings are held mainly in late autumn (after the harvesting)
or in early spring (before the major agricultural works). Guests come from nearby villages as well as from remote areas. Camels, horses,
bulls, goats, carpets, cuts of fabrics, household items and even cars are used as prizes for the winners.
The rules of the game are simple: The riders have to pick up a dead goat, defend it against other players and take it to a target area.
The game is very archaic and there are only few regulations – for example, it is not allowed to ride towards the audience, 
observers are not allowed to assist the participants to pick up the goat. Also pulling off riders from the horse and pulling the goat
from behind of the rider are not allowed.

The Nuratau mountains can be explored by hiking as well as by horse or donkey riding. The diversity of the area offers opportunities
for several day tours of different levels of difficulty (from easy to medium). Different natural and cultural sites of interest can be visited
such as ancient rock drawings, tombs or ruins of mosques and houses. Local guides tell fascinating  stories about the villages’ history,
including myths related to the Alexander the Great.

The natural environment.

The Nuratau Mountains have a range of approximately 180 km.
The highest peak is 2169 m high. It is located to the north of Samarkand and south to the Aydarkul lake.
The mountains are the last refuge of the highly endangered Severtzov wild sheep (Ovis Ammon Severtzovi).
This fact alone indicates the international significance of this territory.
The Nuratau Nature Reserve was created in the middle of the 1970s in order to protect Severtsov’s Argali.
It is located at the heart of the Nuratau Mountains and for protection reasons inaccessible for visitors.

The Nature Reserve will also be the heart of the future Nuratau-Kyzylkum Biosphere Reserve.
This new protected area covering a territory of approximately 10,000 square km will include not only the Nuratau Mountains,
but also part of the Kyzylkum Desert and a large lake system (Aidar and Tuzkan Lakes). The area contains classic Central Asian scenery,
from rocky mountains, to fruit and walnut forest valleys, rolling steppe and desert, and wetlands.
The biosphere reserve is a new category of protected area in Uzbekistan. It is intended to combine wildlife conservation with
sustainable rural development and preservation of culture.

Due to the geographic location and habitat diversity, the future Nuratau –Kyzylkum Biosphere Reserve is remarkable for its biodiversity.
Each landscape type has its own specific beauty:

Deciduous forest of Nuratau mountains constitute beautiful oases with distinctive diversity of flora and fauna. As a result of centuries-old gardening,
the local population formed a unique landscape of cultivated garden-forest. In the valleys most common trees are walnut, mulberry, apricot,
cherry, plum, pear, apple, eastern plane and white poplar. On the mountain slopes other types of trees such as Zeravshan archa, pistachio tree,
common buckthorn, maple, apple-tree, hawthorn and Caucasian hackberry are widespread.
The Nuratau mountains are home of a variety of bird species such as Black Stork (Ciconia nigra), Lammergeyer (Gypaetus barbatus),
Eurasian Griffon (Gyps fulvus),  Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus), Egyptian Vulture (Neophron  percnopterus),
Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), Saker falcon (Falco cherrug), Lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni), Little Swift (Apus affinus),
Eurasian Crag-Martin (Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Rock Thrush (Monticola saxatilis), Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius),
Chukar (Alectoris chukar) and different wheatears. The mountain valleys attract Oriole (Oriolus oriolus),
Common Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos), Asian Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsiphone paradisi), Turkestan Tit (Parus bocharensis),
Grey-headed Goldfinch (Carduelis caniceps) and many others.

Stone marten (Martes foina) and porcupine (Hystrix indica) are typical mammals of this type of ecosystem.
Different types of bats live in caves and niches. As mentioned above, rocky mountainsides and slide-rocks are feeding and resting place
for Severtsov wild sheep (Ovis ammon severtzovi).

Sand desert with its herbaceous vegetation is for many species an important breeding place and in spring and autumn a popular
stop over for migratory birds. Birds to be found in this habitat are Great Bustard (Otis tarda), Little Bustard (Otis tetrax),
Houbara Bustard (Chlamydotis undulata), Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus) and Black Bellied Sand Grouse (Pterocles orientalis),
Every spring  thousands of Demoiselle Cranes (Anthropoides virgo) gather in the steppe.
Rare types of reptiles such as giant lizard (Varanus griseus), Central Asian tortoise (Testudo horsfieldi),
Plate-tailed Gecko (Terratoscincus scincus) and Asian Ablepharous (Ablepharus pannonicus) can be found in the desert.

The Aydarkul and Tuzkan lakes are the biggest habitats in the region and important  breeding,
resting and wintering area for more than a hundred types of birds. Eleven of them are listed in the Red Data Book of the International Union
for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN): Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus), Little Cormorant (Phalacrocoraх pygmaeus),
Red-Breasted Goose (Rufibrenta ruficollis), Lesser White-fronted Goose (Anser erytropus), Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca),
Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus), Imperial Eagle (Aquila heIiасa), Pallas\\\' Sea Eagle (Haliaetus leucoryphus),
White-tailed Sea Eagle (Haliaetus albicilla), Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus) and Sociable Plover (Chettusia gregaria).

The area also accommodates a wide range of  mammals. Approximately 40% of mammal species registered in Uzbekistan live on the territory
of the future Nuratau-Kyzylkum Biosphere Reserve. Wolf (Canis lupus), Jackal (Canis aureus), Fox (Vulpes vulpes),
Corsac Fox (Vulpes corsak), Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus), Central Asian Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) are just few examples of mammals living in the region.

People and social and economic conditions.

The future Nuratau-Kyzylkum Biosphere Reserve is also culturally very diverse. It is in particular home of Tajik, Kazak,
and Uzbek communities, who despite 70 years of Soviet rule, have maintained their strong cultural identities.
Lying on a northerly arm of the ancient Silk road, that ran from the Fergana valley to Bukhara city via the fortress town of Nurata,
the area is redolent with the past.
Nomadic Turkic tribes have lived here even before the Great Silk Road was established.
Later Tajik tribes settled in the mountain areas and set up fruit and nut gardens in the valleys close to mountain rivers.
The irrigation systems they established are still the basis of the green beauty of this centuries-old cultural landscape.
Cattle, Karakul sheep and goat farming, horticulture as well as sericulture have been an integral part of the livelihoods since ancient times.
Additionally, for centuries trading caravans have passed through this area which became an integral part of the Great Silk Road.
During Soviet times livelihoods shifted increasingly towards employment in government enterprises.
The construction of road infrastructure and electrification without a doubt improved the living conditions of the population.
Simultaneously during this time many traditional natural resource management practices were lost and centuries-old institutions removed.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and consequent loss of jobs and funding, the population has desperately been struggling
with dramatic increase of unemployment. As a result the importance of agricultural subsistence activities in order to sustain livelihoods has increased.
Inhabitants cut vulnerable wood resources due to the lack of reliable energy supply. Hunting and fishing supplements the food supply.
In order to improve the economic and ecological situation of the population the Government of Uzbekistan,
UNDP and GEF initiated the Establishment of the Nuratau-Kyzylkum Biosphere Reserve as the model for biodiversity conservation in Uzbekistan.
As a part of these attempts community-based tourism has been developed in order to demonstrate alternative sources of income,
which will contribute to the increase of people’s life standards and serve as a motivation towards protecting the environment.