Nadezhda Dukhovny
Nadezhda Dukhovny

Ancient and Unique Uzbekistan: Tashkent Region I

The history of the Tashkent oasis goes back to ancient times. Traces of Stone Age and  Bronze Age settlements, rock carvings, numerous burial mounds, and ruins of ancient fortresses were found here.

However, this land attracts not only with its ancient history but also with its rich nature in the foothill regions. Here you can sunbathe on the shores of the Charvak reservoir, go on an adventure tour of the Ugam-Chatkal natural park, where you can discover mysterious gorges, mountain waterfalls, and high-mountain crystal lakes, as well as go rafting along the fast-flowing rivers of the region – Ugam, Chatkal, and Pskem.

This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Tourism and Sports Department of the Tashkent Region.]

Tashkent region is located in the northwest of Uzbekistan, between a part of the Tien Shan mountains and the Syr Darya river.

Lake Charvak. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Tourism and Sports Department of the Tashkent Region.

Did you know that on the territory of Uzbekistan there is a unique national park included in the UNESCO World Heritage List? This Park, a real miracle of our planet, delights with its purest untouched nature, amazing natural attractions, and historical monuments.

This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Tourism and Sports Department of the Tashkent Region.

Ugam-Chatkal National Park was founded in 1990 on the territory of the Tashkent region, which includes Bostanlyk, Parkent, and Akhangaran districts. The area of the park is 574,000 hectares.

In 2016, UNESCO declared the park a World Heritage Site, including the magnificent Chatkal Mountains.

The landscape of the park mainly consists of the mountain ranges of the Western Tien Shan. The majestic mountains form numerous gorges and canyons, and the mountain rivers Pskem, Chatkal, Ugam, and Koksu flow between them.

Mount Adelung is the highest peak in Pskem Range. It is located in the north-eastern part and has a height of 4301 m above sea level.

On the opposite side, there is another high peak – Beshtor with an altitude of 4299 m above sea level. Together they form two great mountains that only the most experienced climbers can reach.

The Chimgan ski resort. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Tourism and Sports Department of the Tashkent Region.

Part of the territory of the national park is a specially protected natural object. Due to the unique natural landscape, the park is rich in flora and fauna, beautiful waterfalls and lakes, rocky places, and hiking trails that run through picturesque valleys.
Research work is carried out in the park and strict monitoring of the state of flora and fauna is carried out. Every year, employees of the Chatkal Biosphere Reserve conduct scientific expeditions and conferences, as well as supervise forestry and monitor the preservation of natural resources and the cleanliness of the environment. Special inspectors control the number of plants and animals, including endangered species listed in the Red Book.

The Karakiya waterfall. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Tourism and Sports Department of the Tashkent Region.

The park includes a complex of biospheric natural ecosystems and a gene pool. Among the inhabitants of the park, you can find a snow leopard, Menzbier’s marmot, Himalayan brown bear, black stork, and many other rare animals.

Deers in the Bostanliq district. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Tourism and Sports Department of the Tashkent Region.

In the floodplains of mountain rivers and on the slopes of gorges, you can see dense woody vegetation and juniper forests. In the foothills, there are wild thickets and planted orchards.

The Aksarsay river. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Tourism and Sports Department of the Tashkent Region.

Hawthorn, maple, almonds, cherry plums are often mixed with artisanal vegetation – barberry, rosehip, honeysuckle. Also, in the foothills, there are wild apple trees and birch groves, for example, in the Aksakata tract in the Western Tien Shan mountains.

Near the Lake Charvak. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Tourism and Sports Department of the Tashkent Region.

In addition, there are archaeological sites in the park. For example, in the Karasu tract, you can see ancient rock paintings. The sites of primitive people were also discovered in Paltau, Obirakhmat, Khodjikent, Kulbulak, and Pulutkhan. Ancient tools, dishes, and ritual burials were found at the sites. Such evidence indicates that even forty thousand years ago, people already lived in these picturesque places, using fertile pastures and spring water.

The Paltau waterfall is a natural wonder of unimaginable beauty. It is noisy, unstoppable, powerful, and rushes down with a stream of fast water from a height of 38 meters. Its source, mountain sai – the Chatkal river, originates high in the mountains, in the spurs of the Koksuy ridge, which is located near the border with Kyrgyzstan.

The Paltau waterfall. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Tourism and Sports Department of the Tashkent Region.

Paltau is an ancient natural monument, which is located near the village of Paltau, close to the Tashkent-Burchmulla highway. To get to the waterfall, you need to overcome the mountain landscapes on the territory of the Ugam-Chatkal National Park. These places are breathtaking with their landscapes and picturesque valleys. The slopes surrounding Paltau are covered with dense vegetation and various grasses. Here you will see a yellow rosehip, hawthorn, sea buckthorn, juniper, and beyond the pass, you can see a birch grove.

The Paltau spring. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Tourism and Sports Department of the Tashkent Region.

The name of the waterfall “Paltau” is translated from the Turkic language as “iron mountain”. Indeed, from the very beginning of its formation, the waterfall was surrounded by mountains famous for an ore rich in iron content.

Medieval relics were discovered next to it, one of which is a smelting furnace.

Near the Lake Charvak. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Tourism and Sports Department of the Tashkent Region.

The Chatkal Biosphere Reserve is located in the south of the Ugam-Chatkal National Park. The total area of the reserve is 45 thousand hectares and is divided into two sections – Boshkizilsoy and Maidontol. The first one extends on the southern slopes of Chatkal at an altitude of 1000 to 3247 m, and the second one – on the northern slopes and glaciers at an altitude of 1200 – 3800 m.

The picturesque landscapes of the reserve are represented by mountain ranges decorated with juniper forests, high-mountain alpine, and windy steppe zones.

This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Tourism and Sports Department of the Tashkent Region.

The Chatkal reserve is all dotted with mountain patterns, caves, and noisy waterfalls. And in the southern part of Maidontol, on the rocks near the banks of the Tereksai in the Karasu tract, you can see ancient rock paintings – Tereksai petroglyphs. Very interesting bird-watching tours are also held in the Chatkal reserve.

Near the Lake Charvak. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Tourism and Sports Department of the Tashkent Region.

There are many lakes in Uzbekistan. For the unusual color of the water, the Urungach Lakes are called “jade” and they are a real gift of nature.

Urungach Lake. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Tourism and Sports Department of the Tashkent Region.

The distance between the lower and upper lakes is 4 km.

Urungach Lake. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Tourism and Sports Department of the Tashkent Region.

The lower lake has a particularly bright jade color. Its temperature is about 5 degrees, which gives the water such a beautiful color.

The lakes are located 150 km from the capital on the territory of the Ugam Chatkal National Park.

Urungach Lake . This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Tourism and Sports Department of the Tashkent Region.

Historically, the upper lake was formed as a result of a rock collapse, which served as a natural dam.

The ascent to the lake is conventionally divided into two stages: a smooth ascent to a small, lower lake, and a steeper ascent to the upper lake.

Lake Urungach. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Tourism and Sports Department of the Tashkent Region.

The majestic beauty of the lake and the surrounding mountains makes it possible for travelers to enjoy the silence and contemplation of nature.

In the spring, in April, you can see many snowdrops and tulips scattered along the ascent path.

Travelers are mesmerized by the indescribable beauty of the lakes. Here they enjoy the contemplation of nature, the purest water spread out in a mountain depression, bright greenery, peace, and quiet.

Lake Urungach. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Tourism and Sports Department of the Tashkent Region.

The Chimgan Mountains are a fantastic place where nature proves its strength and perfection. In these places there is nothing useless and disordered, everything is in its place: majestic canyons, steep cliffs, rapid mountain rivers, making their way through the harsh rocks.

The Chimgan Mountains. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Tourism and Sports Department of the Tashkent Region.

Chimgan has become one of the main natural attractions of Uzbekistan, it is famous for its rich vegetation, birch and walnut groves, extreme passes, waterfalls and lakes, narrow gorges. The most beautiful place of Chimgan is the cascades of ridges on Gulkam. There, thanks to the numerous channels and sayings, the Gulkamsay River was formed, and it, in turn, formed an amazing relief – gorges.

The Gulkam gorges are located along the Charvak reservoir, two hours from Tashkent. First, you will drive along an asphalt road that turns into a winding mountain road leading to the village of Gulkam. Then you have to go on foot along a well-trodden path. Gradually, the gorge will begin to narrow, and the passage along the path will be blocked by huge boulders, which will become larger and larger, and the rocks in the gorge will be higher and higher.

Soon the trail to the gorge will disappear completely and you will have to cross the river from one side of the gorge to the other. Despite the fact that the river is quite narrow, its course is very turbulent, which simply cannot be crossed. Gradually the walls of the gorge will become narrower and narrower. In some places, you will have to move almost along the river, jumping from stone to stone.

The Gulkam gorges. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Tourism and Sports Department of the Tashkent Region.

But the beauty of those places is mesmerizing from the very first seconds! Climbing up, along the way, you will encounter boulders of an unusual shape, a sonorous waterfall, and a bizarre rock shape. Soon the gorge will narrow to six meters and you will have to pass, squeezing between large isolated boulders. Once in the narrowest part of the gorges, it becomes clear how such a miracle of nature was formed.

For millions of years, the mountain bed of the river has carved its way through the mass of stones, creating a narrow corridor for itself.

You need to go to such a place only after dry weather, in order to avoid mudflows from clay and stones, as well as in comfortable shoes, because the stones that you will have to cross are wet and slippery. In addition, it is recommended that you bring a thick rope with you as a safety net.

After the narrowest point, the gorges still extend for several hundred meters, and then gradually diverge.

The Gulkam gorges. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Tourism and Sports Department of the Tashkent Region.

The Gulkam gorges are an incredible adventure with a little adrenaline rush. If you prefer to avoid an extreme hike, then you can take a detour route, where you can see all the beauty of the Gulkam gorges from the side.

About the Author
Nadezhda Dukhovny was born and raised in Uzbekistan and made aliya in 2005. She holds an MA in Linguistics from Tel Aviv University and works in translation. She has a true interest about her motherland and would like to tell more about that fascinating country to make Israeli readers familiar with another culture from other part of the globe.
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