Korgalzhyn Nature Reserve
and Tengiz Lake
Korgalzhyn Nature Reserve
Korgalzhyn Nature Reserve is the “pearl” of Central Asia that is included in the UNESCO heritage list of Kazakhstan along with Naurzum Nature Reserve. The territory of the Korgalzhyn Reserve covers more than 543,000 ha and the reserve was founded in 1968 on the territory of the Teniz-Korgalzhyn depression. The flora of the reserve has 443 plant species, 5 of which are listed in the Red Book of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
The protected area of Tengiz and the Korgalzhyn lakes lies 135 km to the southwest of Astana. Almost 3,000 square km in size, this vast water basin in the center of the Kazakh steppe lies on the roads between two important bird migratory routes: the Afro-Eurasian and Indo-Central-Asian routes.
This chain of lakes fed by the River Nura is an excellent location for bird-watching, providing a home for the world’s most northerly group of pink flamingos, and vital populations of pelicans, demoiselle cranes, and several rare species which bring birdwatchers here from western Europe on specialist tours. These include the black lark and the friendly lapwing, the letter the subject of an on-going scientific collaboration between Britain’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and a Kazakhstani ornithological NGO named ASBK. Crossed by major migratory bird routes, Korgalzhyn is a summer home to a wide variety of species. This is a paradise for ornithologists, however, here other animals inhabit too, such as the wolf and fox, marmot, ground squirrel and horse springer a kind of jumping mouse, and even a few rare saiga antelope. The salt and feather grass steppe of this region contains more than 300 species of plant.
Lake Tengiz is an important wetland site for birds and a part of a Ramsar wetland site of international importance, the Tengiz-Korgalzhyn Lake System. It takes in most of its volume from the Nura River, and the water is brackish. The lakes of Korgalzhin are freshwater and are set in an immensely vast sea of reeds, home to tens of thousands of water birds Ornithologists have counted almost 330 species of indigenous and migrant birds, almost 20 of which are threatened with extinction. Lake Tengiz receives the northernmost and largest colony of pink flamingos in the world, with up to 14,000 pairs making their nests out on the lake.
On Lake Sultankeldy which in the middle on the right side of Kokay lake you can see Dalmatian pelicans and great cormorant demoiselle cranes, great egrets, great and little bitterns, ruffs, dozens of different types of geese and ducks, pratincole, the sociable lapwing and black lark and last but not least, numerous predatory birds such as the northern harrier. long-legged buzzard, lesser kestrel and steppe eagle, all of which populate the reserve.
How to get to Korgalzhyn Nature Reserve
You can visit the reserve only by getting permission and accompanied by one of the staff from the reserve office since the object is a protected area. Therefore plan to visit on the weekday and book before your arrival. You can book through the their office website. The reserve’s crew can arrange either group or individual visits, the season starts in late April or early May when the tulips bloom and ends in mid-September with the impressive autumn bird migration.
You can get to the reserve by bus or private vehicle from Nur-Sultan to the village of Korgalzhyn is 130 km southwest. The reserve is located 200 m from the bus station. Several buses a day run from Nur-Sultan bus station. You will first need to head to the office of the nature reserve administration once you arrive at the Korgalzhyn village to register and obtain a permit for entry into the reserve. If you are arriving at the weekend, you better phone the previous week during office hours to arrange for an appointment. The reserve lies further to the west the fence to the entrance of the reserve is about 38 km away Korgalzhyn.