You can reach from Almaty to Aksu-Zhabagly train. The station is located near the reserve. Or you can go from Almaty to the Aksu-Zhabagly by car, about 800 km. There are many guest houses on the border of the reserve.
| The state natural reserve Aksu-Dzhabagly is the oldest reserve in Central Asia and Kazakhstan. In 2006 it celebrated its 80th anniversary. The initiative for the reserve's creation belongs to the well-known hydrobiologist A.L. Brodskiy, who had visited the upper reaches of the Dzhabagly and Aksu rivers for the first time in 1920. Two years later this territory was investigated by а group of professors from Tashkent University: D.N. Kashkarov, Уе.Р. Korovin, М.У. Kultiasov, М.О. Porov and N.A. Dimo. They confirmed the importance of the territory and its required preservation. By а resolution of Chimkent's uzemotdel in May 1925 the land was appropriated for the purposes of а reserve and border-marking notices were set up а year later. Sovnarkom of the Republic of Kazakhstan issued а special decree (report N225) about the establishment of
Aksu-Dzhabagly reserve, which was confirmed by the decision of Sovnarkom of the Russian Federation on 27 May 1927. Thus, Aksu-Dzhabagly could celebrate its anniversary three times.
Establishing and strengthening the reserve was connected with the work of Trizna Boris Petrovich (1867- 1938), who was at the head of Aksu-Dzhabagly during the first and the most difficult decade of its existence. Important scientific research was conducted at that time, staff was also increased, and in 1937 the territory of the reserve was enlarged from the initial 30,000 hectares to 69,825 hectares. There were only insignificant changes to its borders and area during the following 50 years. Only in last decade, by а resolution of the Government of the RК, the upper reaches of the Aksai and Koksai rivers and part of the Vаllеу of Maidantal River have been joined to the reserve. At this time, the area of Aksu-Dzhabagly is equal to 128,118 hectares and it occupies the territory within the South Kazakhstan and Zhambyl oblasts, on the junction of the borders of Kazakhstan with Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.
In addition, the reserve has two paleontological zones located in the Karatau Mountains. The Karabastau zone, which covers an area of 126 hectares, was established in May 1924, due to the work of В. Р. Trizna, who at that time was Director of the Chimkent Museum. Karabastau was the first paleontological reserve in the Soviet Union. The Aulie zone, which covers an area of 100 hectares was established as а reserve only in 1973. Remains of plants and animals of the Jurassic period are protected on these territories and are unique treasures of World Science.
The central territory of the reserve is located in Zhabagly village, 70 km from Chimkent and 18 km from the Tulkubas railway station. The main territory of Aksu- Dzhabagly occupies а western part of the Talasskiy Alatau range, an extreme north-east branch of Ugame range with height intervals of between 1100-4200 т. above sea level. Rocks and minerals predominate here and are low саrbonic and partially upper-Devonian limestone. Massive amounts of limestone saved many extinct ancient sea animals of Paleozoic period in fossilized conditions - trilobits, corals, gasteropods, and sponges. Ancient rocks are exceeded by Pleiocene and quartermary conglomerates, along with contemporary alluvial and other mellow rocks of different origin. Quite often volcanic rocks, syenites and granites, come to the surface. In those places where they contact limestone, marble stone emerges.
The mountain ranges in the reserve are much partitioned. They stretch from the east to the west consecutively and have similar character of relief; the northern slopes are usually gentle with wide smoothed out terraces that are covered with snow and glaciers at their crest. The southern slopes are sharp, dry and rocky. Quite often narrow and sharp ranges ramble from them, making for а complicated labyrinth of ravines. The powerful glacier range Bugulytor emerges from the Central Park. The area of the largest glacier of this range is about 1 sq.km. The rest of the glaciers of the reserve (over 50) do not exceed it in size. The main rivers of the reserve are the Dzhabagly, Aksu, Baldarbek, Bala-Baldarbek, which f10w in а western direction. They have mixed nourishment - from snow, glaciers and springs. Most of the river valleys have
the form of canyons on their way out of the mountains. The canyon of the Aksu River stands apart from the others. Its depth is about 400 meters and its length over 20 km. Aksu-Dzhabagly is notable for а great number of beautiful landscapes and unique natural objects. These include the wonderful mountain lakes Kokuyrum and Zhasyl, the sparking ice-falls of Dzhabagly, Shungulduk and Bugulytor, the narrow rocky gates of Darbaz in the valley of the Baldarbek River, and the great valley of the Maidantal River. Mysterious and massive grey rocks in the Coral ravine consists almost completely of fossilized animal remains (corals, sponges, mollusks) - inhabitants of the great sea that covered this territory over 250 million years ago in the Paleozoic period.
Our ancient ancestors have left here traces of their activities. In the hollow of Kaskabulak natural boundary, in this wonderful and, at the same time, severe place, surrounded by an enormous circle of dazzling rhombus snow and dark, rocky outcrops, there is а famous stone gallery.
On the flat rocks covered with black ferrous-manganese crust there are clearly seen carvings by ancient people, etched by sharp tools. There are many pictures here, not less than two-thousand. This odd assortment of stone painting amazes by the diversity of its subjects and technique of performance.
Pictures of wild animals, such as goats, аrkhаrs and marals, are abundant and visible. Etchings of riders on horses and camels, huntеrs with bow and lance, scenes of fighting, dancing, different rituals and even scenes of execution are quite common. There is not yet any common opinion about the age of these petroglyphs. Many researchers attribute them to the period of Scyths, which is roughly the V-IV centuries В.с. Others think that the "рiсture gallery" of Kaskabukak was created by many generations, beginning from the Stone Age to the Middle Ages of our era.
The climate of reserve is continental with non-uniform distribution of precipitation along the seasons of the year. From the total sum of precipitation (950 mm in the zone of mid-mountains) 30 percent falls in winter, 40 percent in autumn and only 10 percent in summer. The average temperature is +5.6° С, with January being the coldest month at 5.4° С, and the warmest being July at +17.2° С. The average drought period is 70 days, generаllу averaging 142 frost-free days, and snow roughly 160 days per annum.
The distribution of soils, vegetation and fauna, as everywhere in the mountains, is adheres to the law of vertical zonality. The territory of the reserve is located within five vertical zones. In the upper nival zone (3600-3800 т. above the sea level) soil and vegetative covering is almost absent. Huge amounts of snow and ice, however, play an important role in regulating of river outflow in all regions. The high mountainous alpine zone (from 2800-3000 т) is distinguished by stunted, predominantly sparse grassy vegetation and different variants of mountainous alpine soils. Small areas here are abundant with patches of ground cedar- Juniperus (archa). Colorful alpine forest glades are obvious in moist, humid areas. The high mountainous sub-alpine zone is characterized predominantly by closed vegetative covering. Dense archa elfin wood, that quite often forms а thick overgrowth, and on average covers almost 30 percent of the slopes' surface. Soils under archa formations are dark coloured, under other types of vegetation, field-steppe or mountainous steppe subalpine.
In the mid-mountainous zone (1500-2200 т) woods play an important role. They are formed by two types of long-boled archa (seravshanica and semiglobosa), and dry meadows. Large-grassed half savannas with brush, sometimes with archa scrub forests, are also typical. The predominate soil type in this zone is mountain brown. The low-mountainous zone (lower than 1500 т) occupies the largest part of the reserve, except for the north-east branch. This zone is occupied by large-grassed, partial steppe that becomes half-savanna with plentiful brush. Soils in this zone, as well as the foothills adjacent to the reserve, are grayish-brown, distinguished by lower amount of humus in its upper realms.
Among other reserves of Kazakhstan, Aksu-Dzhabagly stands out for its special wealth and diversity of vegetative covering. Over 60 vegetative formations belonging to 12 different types of flora are noted here; whereas in other reserves typically distinguish between 5-7 types. The most common only for the western Tian Shan kind is half and full savanna type. Three variants can be observed in the reserve and its surroundings. Low-grass savanoids with predominance of bulbous bluegrass, thick-browed sedge, colorful short-vegetating perennial (Ephemerides) and eutherophytes (ephemerals) cover lowland trains
along the borders of the reserve. Large-grassed savanoids with the predominance of couch-grass piliferous and barley bulbous are typical for the lowland zones. The third type, where large-grassed representatives of umbel family dominate, is called "umbellars." They are very wide spread - from the lowlands to mid-mountains; sometimes they can be partially encountered even in the lower parts of the sub-alpine zone.
Another type of vegetation typical only for the western Tian-Shan is the archa woods. They form а unique landscape of this region, consolidated hillsides preserving them from erosion, which accumulate and save moisture, regulate river patterns, and defend against destructive flooding and avalanches. One hectare of archa formations emits about 30 kg of oils and chemicals, forming а stable antibacterial zone. Being the main lumber source in the western Tian-Shan, archa has been widely used by а man.
The area of archa formations has strongly decreased in the last centuries, and designated for special protection by the government, and seravshanica archa is included to the Red data Book of Kazakhstan.
Not only these, but also other unique vegetative communities are protected in Aksu-Dzhabagly. These are groves of "red-book" apple trees of Sivers and Celtis caucasica, communities of thorn cushion plant formations with the predominance of anteater sainfoin, overgrowth of grassed relicts and endems and pskemskiy onion on wide taluses of mid-mountains.
The flora in the reserve is very diverse. The number of protected species includes: mushrooms - 250 types; mosses, lichens, seaweeds - 60-70 types each; prime plants - over 1300 types. The novelty and uniqueness of the flora is clearly seen with the example of prime plants. Over 200 rare species are identified in this group, as well as 177 endems of the western Tian-Shan' and Karatau, about 30 relicts; 39 red-bookish. Only in Aksu-Dzhabagly exist such protected rare species as "amazing lettuce" (lactuca mira), Minkvitz primrose, talass oxytrope, MassaIskiy lousewort, Koopman's euonymus, talass birch and
others. From this wide range of plants the most important and useful are relatives of cultivated kinds, which include more than 80 types in the reserve. Greig and Kaufman
Tulips (Tulipa greigii and Tulipa kaufmanniana) - founders of several hundred of world-wide famous types of cultivated tulips - have gained special popularity.
The animal world within the reserve is equally diverse. Vertebrate fauna consist of 330 species, 50 special mammals from 6 orders and 21 families among them. Rodents, particularly different types of field-voles and mice are predominant in number and species' composition. Forest dormouse, which makes its nests on the trees, bushes, under the roofs of buildings, and even in rucksacks and boxes with provision of reserve's staff is very cute. More common hoofed animals are mountainous goats, limited numbers of arkhars (Tian-Shan subtype), which can by observed only in the Northern part of the reserve, having acclimated there in the early 1960 s. Tian-Shan's brown beer can by seen quite often. The density of this "red-book" genus in Aksu-Dzhabagly is most frequent within its natural habitat. Beside arkhars and bears, there are five more types of red-book genus - snow leopards, porcupine, Turkistan's trot, marbIed polecat and pine marten. The last type is quite usual (about 40-50 individuals), others are very rare (from 2-5 individuals). The number of some types varies considerably.
During the 80 year history of the reserve the number of wild goat, boar, and long-tailed marmot has fallen but recently risen.
The world of birds is similarly variegated and assorted. Altogether, here exist 268 types: among them about 110 birds of passage and 130 nesting-birds. The last number constitutes over 80 percent of nesting fauna in all of the western Tian-Shan, including Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. The most numerous and ubiquitous are the representatives of the Sparrow order - different buntings, mountain finch, pipits, white-throats, chanters.
Among the typical inhabitants are cedar woods (Himalayan and yellow chested tit, missel, mycerobas carnipes), riparian forests (oriole, Terpsiphone paradisi), rocky high mountains (chough, alpine chough, wallсгеерег), adjusting to water biotopes (dippers- common and brown, wagtails -masked and grey) and so forth.
Among the raptors, the reserve has vultures; barn owl, quail-hawk, long-legged buzzard, kestrel and others.
Six of their types-golden eagle, lammergeyer, short-toed snake-eagle, carrion-crow, dwarf eagle, saker falcon-are very rare, and nest only with one or several pairs. They belong to the 'red-book' category. Others nesting in the reserve from this category include the bIack storve, eagle-owl and blue bird. Five more types (cranes common and demoiselle, Great bustard, little bustard, peregrine falcon) from time to time can by observed during flight.
There are 11 types of reptiles in Aksu-Dzhabagly. The most numerous snakes are moccasin and Pallas' coluber; from the lizards the "Alai Gololaz." The rarest species here is the Cliff racer and quite common in the lowlands is the Glass snake.
There are only three types of amphibians: lake frog, green toad and, included in the Red Book, danatian, or Central Asian toad.
Fish are not abundant; however, according to the information of different authors they number between 5 and 7 species. The most common include osman and marinka, which numerous only in the rivers in the paleontological zones Aulie and Karabastau.
The main mass of biological diversity in the reserve, as well as in any place in the world, is formed by invertebrates. Only insects have been investigated here in detail; however, they number roughly half the known species (2124 types). From the 27 known orders of this class the most representative are coleopterans, or Bugs, lepidopterans (Butterflies), Hymenopteras and Dipteras. Oquite fully was determiner the fauna of bugs - 920 species from 44 families. The most diverse families are Weevils, Stafilinides, Ground beetles, leaf beetles and lamellicorn beetles. High specificness of ethnomofauna is of the big interest. Therefore, the part of Western Tian-Shan endems among bugs constitutes at about 15%, conditional endems (know only in this territory) -2%. But nevertheless, the most attractive insects are butterflies, which constitute about 120 types in Aksu-Dzhabagly. The most colorful are billifish (swallowtail and 7 types of Parnassius), apatyrae (5 types), and colias. Among the rarest are the Romanov and dragon, and also the representatives of the largest family Polyommatus icadius (37 types). On the whole, there are 25 types of rare insects that are included in the Red Data Book of Kazakhstan, including the rarest type of rain worm (allobophora).
The amazing world of biological diversity in Aksu- Dzhabagly has for decades attracted the attention of scientists from different fields. This reserve occupies the leading place by the duration and efficiency of scientific study not only in Kazakhstan but also among the other reserves in the former Soviet Union. Thousands of scientific and popular publications, 8 issues of "Trudy" among them, about tens of books and monographs, а colorful photo-album, leaflets and 4 scientifically-popular videos have appeared around the world.
In the past few years, international recognition devoted to the preservation and scientific exploration of the biodiversity in the Western Tian-Shan and Aksu-Dzhabagly has increased tremendously, reinforcing its material and technical base, especially among scientists and есоtourists from around the world.