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.
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. Every
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
Link to the Kugitang cave site: http://fadr.msu.ru/~vvkor/kugitang/kugitang.html.