It is located on the Talas Alatau, Ugam, and Maidantal ridges, in the western part of the Tien Shan. If you visit this nature reserve, you can get see rare species of animals and plants that are not found anywhere else. The reserve was named after the two main rivers - Aksu and Zhabagly.
A separate tourist route with a length of 15 kilometers is especially prepared to the slopes of Aksu - from Kyzhikan to the Tayaksaldy gorge, which you can walk or drive by car, watching animals, birds, discovering rare plants — for example, Turkestan cornflower.
Aksu Dzhabagly can rightly be called the kingdom of tulips. Of the six generic varieties of tulips found in the reserve, four species are the ancestors of many cultivars. These species are listed in the Red Books of Kazakhstan, Russia, and Uzbekistan! Tulips in this nature reserve are widespread, they usually bloom from April to August, giving a unique charm to mountain landscapes.
There are also mountain peaks - for example, Sairam peak with a height of 4,238 meters (more often it is called Aktueolgen, that is, a “lying camel"), and in the central part of the reserve you can see the Bugulutor glacier ridge 3,926 meters high. In total, there are 114 glaciers and 27 small lakes in the reserve - all on a permanent snow line. You can look at them from the Kshi-Kaindy pass by following the route along the Zhabagly River - in good weather, you will see a picturesque panorama of the central part of the nature reserve. You can combine a tour of the northern juniper forest, an inspection of the Kshi-Kaindy waterfall with an observation of herds of mountain goats and argali, the flight of vultures and golden eagles. In spring and early summer, you can see Kaufman and Kolpakovsky tulips, as well as Greig's red-book tulip, whose large red flower has become the emblem of the reserve. But hold on, don’t touch them! If you’ll meet the Tien Shan brown bear, also listed in the Red Book, then you’re a lucky person!
Who lives here?
You may be interested in the Red Book bear, snow leopard, Turkestan lynx, and Indian porcupine. According to the latest data, 52 species of mammals, 11 species of reptiles, three species of amphibians are found in Aksu-Zhabagly. More than 1,737 plant species grow here, half of which are endemic, that is, they are not found anywhere else: trees, shrubs, herbs, algae, mosses, lichens, mushrooms. But what’s most interesting is this: a lot of birds live here, there are 267 species of them - the ular, the partridge, the blackbird, the paradise flycatcher, and many others. Some of them are not only very beautiful but also rare: 11 species are listed in the Red Book - the legendary bluebird, bearded predators, golden eagle, snake-eater, saker, peregrine falcon, vulture, dwarf eagle. Also, two more bird species are recognized as a global danger by IUCN (IUCN) - this is the corral and white-winged woodpecker.
The tourist season in Aksu-Zhabagly lasts from April to October. On average it is the hottest here in August - up to +21 degrees, the coldest month is January when the temperature drops to -5.4 degrees. You can visit this nature reserve by car throughout the year, although in the autumn-spring time there may be difficulties with roads. Horseback riding is especially enjoyable in spring, summer, and autumn. Permission to enter the reserve can be given to you from the administration of the nature reserve. Entrance fees, rental vehicles, or guides are not really expensive. Accommodation at a local hotel, where they provide a soft bed and three meals a day, will also cost you a little.
How to get there?
Getting to the Aksu-Zhabagly Reserve is not difficult - from Shymkent you need to get to the village of Zhabagly of the Tulkubassky District. If you want, you can stop and relax: there are hotels and recreation areas, both belonging to the nature reserve and private.
A visit to the nature reserve should start with a visit center in the village of Zhabagly. From here, to get to the most interesting places, you need to take a guide, and optionally a horse or a car. Although many foreign tourists prefer hiking routes. We highly recommend calling in advance, because during the tourist season hotels and transport may already be booked by other guests.
Hiking trail entrance: 4 $
Tour guide: 4, 25 $
You can also take transport here, a car for 7 $, a horse for 1.5 $
Around the reserve, there are cordons where the inspectors who guard the reserve live. These cordons are named for the territories near which they are located and, choosing routes for travel, you can look at the map and focus on them.
Do you like archeology? The reserve also has paleontological zones where the remains of animals of the Upper Jurassic period, including the skeleton of a flying lizard and fragments of a large dinosaur, have been preserved.
One of the most interesting tourist routes of the nature reserve is in the Kshi-Kaindy tract. Here you can see the valley of the Zhabagly river, the Kshi-Kaindy waterfall. But most importantly - in these parts, you can see a large number of mountain goats, and along the road, you can see Greig and Kaufman tulips (in spring). You have a chance to see a bear right here!
When visiting the reserve, you need to keep in mind some tips:
- all excursions take place only accompanied by an employee of the nature reserve (guide or inspector-guide, usually a Russian-speaking one);
- during the fire hazard period (from June to October) you are not allowed to smoke;
- there is only 10 km of roads in the nature reserve and you can only drive 4 WD cars. The remaining excursion trails are adapted for walking and horseback riding;
- you can use only the transport of the nature reserve. The reserve has a sufficient number of calm and hardy horses and 4WD cars. Vehicles must be ordered at least one day in advance.
Aksu Dzhabagly is a land of healing mountain air, bright sun, breathtaking magnificent panoramas, clear water, and unique flora and fauna. You will never be able to forget the impressions of this visit! The joy of staying here will remain with you for life!