Nurata Mountain Nature Reserve
The Nurata Mountains have a pristine nature and still remaining historical monuments due to the Nurata State Mountain Nature Reserve established in 1975. The reserve borders on the neighboring Samarkand and Navoi regions, with a total land area of 17,752 hectares.
The highest peak of the mountain system is the “Peak of Life”, located at an altitude of 2169 meters above sea level. 821 species of plants of 78 families were identified in the reserve. Of these, 96 species of complex flowers, 78 species of legumes and 76 species of other plants. The Red Book of Uzbekistan includes 33 species of flora of the reserve, including 3 species of lilies, 3 species of mountain onion “Anzur”, 5 species of tulips, 5 species of mountain flower “Astra” and others.
The most common, but hardly studied part of the reserve fauna is invertebrates. So far, there are 761 species of insects in the region. In addition, 241 species of various beetles, 93 species of amphibians, 58 species of poultry and 240 species of butterflies were registered. Eight species of insects are listed in the Red Book of Uzbekistan.
Large corn ground beetle, Calosoma (Callisthenes) glasunovi, southern swallowtail (Papilio alexanor) and oak leaf butterflies (Kallima) are also unique. There are 21 species of reptiles in the region. The most common of these species are the Turkestan agama, the yellow snake, the Flower Snake (Orthriophis moellendorffi), the Dione’s ratsnake (Elaphe dione), the Dwarf sand boa (Eryx miliaris). Three species of the lizards, the Central Asian cobra, and the cross-striped snake, are listed in the Red Book of Uzbekistan.
The bird species of the reserve is also very rich and unique. 199 species have been identified here. 103 species of them nest in the reserve area. It should be noted that 10 species of birds nesting in the land and 8 species of migratory birds are included in the Red Book of Uzbekistan, including 2 species of permanent and 3 species of migratory birds in the Red Book of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Svertsov/Kyzylkum (Ovis severtzovi) argali is the rarest animal in the reserve. This unique mountain sheep is an endemic species found on the northern slopes of the Kyzylkum hills, which are part of the Pamir-Alay Mountains, and is included in the International Red Book of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The historical distribution area of Svertsov sheep includes Nurata, Aktog, Molguzar, Turkestan and Zarafshan mountain ranges, Pistalitog, Tomditog, Bokontog and other hills of Kyzylkum.
In the middle of the twentieth century, as a result of a significant reduction in the distribution area of Svertsov sheep, the number of this species declined sharply, and in some historical distribution areas there were cases of complete extinction. Only due to timely measures was it possible to restore and normalize the largest population in the Nurata Mountains. Today, the reserve is home to about 1,800 Svertsov sheep.
The history of Nurata Mountains Settlements
The natural climate, ecological condition, richness of flora and fauna of the Nurata mountain range attracted tribes throughout history. According to historical sources, Uzbek tribes began to inhabit the Nurata region as early as the 13th century, and after them Tajiks came here. Kazakhs were the last of all here, but despite this they are perfectly oriented in this area. Evidence of this is the diversity of various archeological finds, petroglyphs, tombs, megaliths, medieval historical monuments, cultures, and traditions. Along the northern slopes of the Nurata ridge, one of the Silk Road’s caravan routes passed from the banks of the Syrdarya to Bukhara via Nurata. The caravan routes also crossed the Ukhum and Majrum passes of the Nurata ridge. Thus, the towns of Nurata Mountains bloomed for several centuries.
CBT tourism in Nurata Mountains
The Nurata Mountains attract everyone not only with its beautiful mountain scenery, unique fauna and flora, but also with its many historical and cultural monuments.
Among the most important historical monuments in and around the reserve are petroglyphs in Tikchasoy, Asrafsay, Andegensoy, Majrumsay, Hayatsay, Sintobsoy, the remains of castles in the villages of Sentob, Majrum, Ukhum, the ruins of an ancient mosque in the village of Majrum, and legendary a 3000 years old spruce, with a body of 24 meters in diameter and 20 meters high (local people think as if Alexander the Great had planted it on the grave of his chief soldier), the tombs of Hazrati Ali in Majrumsay and Eshanbobo in Qarrisay.
In the foothills of the Nurata Mountains, there are several villages favorable for tourism: Sentob/Sentyab, Ukhum, Hayat, and Asraf. These villages are favorite destinations of travelers for trekking, bird watching, rural and CBT tourism.
Popular villages for CBT tourism in Nurata Mountains:
- Sentob/Sentyab village,
- Ukhum/Uhum village;
- Hayat village;
- Asraf village;
- Majrum village.