From the Talas Ala-Too, the main ridge of the Western Tien-Shan all major mountain ranges branch off. The largest Chatkal range is limiting the Fergana region from the North-West. Almost closed on all sides, the Fergana Valley from the north is bordered by the Chatkal and Kuraminskii ranges.
The Chatkal mountain range with numerous ridges forms a vast and difficult terrain on the mountain ridge, stretching nearly 200 km. with the highest point of 4503 m. (Chatkal peak).
The Chatkal range is snow cones, grandiose vertical slopes, stretching in deep canyons, peaks and towers. Above all this the high rocky peak with horizontal white stripes on the north slope rises. Numerous counterforces, while sliding, formed a system of mesas.
The dissected of the topography generated climatic differences, depending on the altitude, direction of ridges and ravines, and the exposure of their slopes. From November to May there is snow at altitudes more than 2000 meters. Glaciers usually are on the northern slopes. Each valley differs from the adjacent one with unique and inimitable rivers. They run from the mountain heights to the valley, forming the cascades of waterfalls and lakes.
Climate diversity that is characteristic for mountains creates the extraordinary variety of nature. At that time, as the northern slopes of the Chatkal range are shipped back in the winter dormancy and barely covered with the low rays of the sun, the southern slopes are already pleasing to the eye of a young green, and the first spring flowers.
In spring and autumn period the Chatkal mountain range attracts climbers and mountain tourists. Here it is available to carry out ascents of varying complexity degrees, as well as to make multi-day trekking along the Chatkal mountain range, for example, to the mysterious plateau Pulatkhan.
The Chatkal range in Tashkent region also attracts numerous vacationers from different cities of Uzbekistan and abroad. Here are many holiday hotels and dachas, where you can enjoy resting and wonderful nature.
Vegetable and animal worlds of the Chatkal range
At the foothills of the fertile sierozems of the Chatkal range mixed grass steppes are highly developed. On the brown mountain-forest soils, there are wild rose bushes, barberry, honeysuckle and woody vegetation - almond, pistachio, hawthorn, maple, ash, walnut, apple, plum, pear, juniper, and others. Along the flood plains there are thickets of birches, willows, poplars as well as brambles, sea-buckthorn, raspberries, currants, sometimes wild vine. At a height of 2700 meters there are subalpine and alpine meadows. And above 3200-3500 meters high one can observe a desert with separate lawns of sedges, gentian among the moraine deposits of small glaciers and preserved snowfields.
Fauna in the Chatkal mountain range is very specific and abundant. In the woods among the wild fruit trees and bushes there are wild boars, foxes, bears, deer. The forests are inhabited by the porcupine, badger and forest dormouse. Near the rocks stone marten, sometimes weasel and least weasel take shelter. High up in the mountains the Siberian goats graze, followed by hunting snow leopards. Everywhere in the Chatkal mountain range there are marmots. Deciduous forests are rich with starlings, orioles, blackbirds, woodpeckers, goldfinches and nightingales. On the rocks and steep slopes blue-gray doves, swifts and many birds of prey nest: They are vultures, kestrels, griffons, golden eagle and others. And stone placers are favorite places of chukars and snowcocks. The mountain rivers are commonly found three species of fish - marinka, Amudarya loach and Turkestan sheatfish.
Natural reserves of the Chatkal range
In the north-western and south-western slopes of the ridge there is Chatkal State Biosphere Reserve.
Chatkal Biosphere Reserve was organized in 1947. The administration building, located in
Parkent, has a small museum. The branches of the Chatkal range are visible near Parkent. The reserve territory consists of 2 sections - Bashkyzylsay and Maydantal. Bashkyzylsay is located in the south-western slopes of the Chatkal range at altitudes of 1100-3247 meters, the second is situated on the remote northern slopes at altitudes of 1200-3800 meters. Maydantal district is remote from the first one of more than 30 kilometers. The restricted area of the reserve is located on the left bank of the river Serkelisay and is adjacent from the west to Maidantal site.
Chatkal Reserve was founded to protect mountain juniper forests, rare and endangered species of animals and plants. Currently 1004 species of grass, trees and shrubs grow in Bashkyzylsay area, including more than 200 species of medicinal plants and 84 rare species, which are listed in the Red Book of Uzbekistan. Among them there are tulips of Greig and Kaufman, soap root, Pskem onion and Koopman euonymus. The reserve is inhabited by 18 species of rare animals included to the list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. They are the snow leopards, marmots of Menzbir, black vultures, kestrels and brown pigeons. Habitation in the nature reserve of rare animals, imposes on the reserve a special responsibility for the preservation of these unique animals. Environmental and scientific activities of the reserve won the international recognition.
In the south-eastern slope of the Chatkal range there is Sary-Chelek State Biosphere Reserve, which has the status of the biosphere reserve of UNESCO since 1979.
The Reserve was organized in 1960. Its area is about 21 thousand hectares. Its extension is 20-25 km., the width is up to 12 km. In the upper part of the reserve there are narrow, deep gorges, over which the rocky peaked tops pinnacle rise. Among steep precipitous slopes snowfields are encountered. Alpine vegetation goes down in high grasslands and shrubs, where spruce, fir, juniper, broad-leaved trees grow. The lower part of the reserve is occupied with nut forests, alternating with thickets of shrubs.
The fauna is not less rich and varied. There are 41 types of mammals, 157 species of birds, 5 types of reptiles, 2 species of amphibians and 5 kinds of fish. Large animals are wild boars, deer, white-clawed bears, lynxes, badgers and porcupines. In the upper part of the reserve mountain goats and sheep, weasels, stone martens inhabit; snow leopards and wolves can be seen. In rocky areas of the reserve located on the Chatkal range one can see snowcocks and partridges, swallows, swifts, thrushes; above there are golden eagles, white-haired vultures, bearded vultures, griffons and Egyptian vultures. Particularly floodplains overgrown with forests and thick bushes are rich in birds. Cormorants, various ducks, herons, ospreys dwell in the area of lakes. In the rivers and lakes there are marinka, recently released European carps, carps, Amudarya trout. On the banks of water bodies one can meet green toads, lake frogs, water snakes. And in the forest belt there are patterned snakes and the only venomous snake of the reserve - copperhead snake.
Facts about the Chatkal range
To the north of the Chatkal range the Chatkal river flows. It falls into Charvak reservoir near the village Brichmulla.
In dozens kilometers eastward of Tashkent Chatkal foothills begin. The Chatkal range is a watershed of two major river basins. Its north-western slopes originate in the Chatkal river and its tributaries; its south-eastern slopes, directed to the Fergana Valley, feed the mountain streams that flow into the rivers Naryn and Syr Darya.
The Chatkal range has a decisive influence on the water regime of the Chirchik river, feeding mainly at the expense of Chatkal waters. Extremely dry climate and absence of rains in summer do mountain streams of glacier and snow descent the main source of water supply of the Tashkent region and major hydropower and industrial center on the river Chirchik.
In addition to that, the Chatkal mountain range has the favourable influence upon the climate of the northeastern part of Fergana, delaying the moist south-western winds and contributing to precipitation.
The initial researches of the Chatkal refer to the 70-th years of the last century. When in 1864 Russian troops moved on Dzhambul, the naturalist N.A. Severtsov, seeked the resolution to partake in this campaign. He contrived to make a number of mountain tours, in particular, to penetrate through the pass Kara-bura in the valley of the Chatkal river. He went down the valley for 45 kilometers, and then the researcher in the same way climbed up back. N.A. Severtsov gave a minute description of Kara-bura pass, Kara-kasmak gorge and middle stream of the river Chatkal.
In 1874 and 1875 I.V Mushketov visited the Chatkal valley. From the village Brichmulla, he went into the upper reaches of the river Pskem where through the pass Kul- ashu he descended into the Chatkal valley near the village Idris-Peychamber (now the regional center of Yangi-Bazaar). Hence Mushketov traveled about 120 kilometers to the mouth of the river Kara-kasmak and further through Kara-bura pass he walked down the valley of the river Talas.
In 1911 the Austrian geographer Makhachek visited the valley Chatkal. He crossed the western part of the Chatkal range and was in the upper river heads of the Aflatun.
However, the fundamental attention of the researches was focused on the western part of the Chatkal range, which is more interesting because of its natural resource. Botanical and zoological expeditions also investigated the southern slopes of the Chatkal range and the lake Sary-chilek. Inaccessible headwaters of the east high part of the ridge remained unexplored.
Climbers’ attention to the area was attracted with the expedition led by N.N. Adelung and E.S. Levin, organized in 1933. The return journey of the expedition passed through the Chatkal valley. The distinctive beauty of the ridge tops prompted Levin to take a tour to the gorge Arpa-tokty to the highest point of the Chatkal range. Scenic areas and its small study made the group of S.M. Lukomskoy, V.I. Sapozhnikov and K.I. Ivanov head in the Chatkal range in 1940. The main expedition was planned for 1941, but the war prevented its realization. Only in 1945 mountaineers again headed in the Chatkal.
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