Uzunakmat reserve is also known as Uzun-Akmat and is located in the northwest part of the Toktogul region, about 75-80 km northwest from the regional center of Toktogul town, in an area of just few villages and bad roads. Uzunakmat is mostly know as the home region of a great Kyrgyz akyn (an improvisatory poet and singer among the Kyrgyz people), named Toktogul Satylganov and the famous writer-playwright Zhoomart Bokonbaev who were born in this area. There is a museum of Toktogul Satylganov in the village of Cholpon-Ata (Not the Cholpon Ata in Issyk Kul) and in the village of Mazar-Suu there is a museum of Zhoomart Bokonbaev.
The natural attractions of the Uzunakmat reserve include an unnamed waterfall, the mysterious Korgonata mountain, several caves, alpine lakes, gorges and rich flora and fauna that are organically combined with historical and ethnographic monuments. These places are truly quite wild and hard to access without a guide.
In the upper reaches of the Kara-Kuldza, there is not a single settlement, but just few single houses accompanied only by their grazing cattle enjoying the summer pastures. Nevertheless, from the point of view of a tourist, Uzunakmat area is one of the most pristine showing the wild Kyrgyz nature and traditional lifestyle and most certainly off the beaten path.
River Uzun-Akhmat and Kara-Kulzha
Two rivers flow into the Toktogul reservoir from the Uzunakmat reserve area: Uzun-Akhmat, coming from the northwestern mountain area and Kara-Kulja coming from the west. These two rivers join together and and flow together to the Toktogul reservoir under the name of Uzun Akhmat. The point where these two rivers confluence is located near the village of beforementioned Cholpon-Ata.
The Uzunakmat River originates from glaciers and snowdrifts in the Talas Alatoo range. In the upper reaches of the river it flows in a deep mountain gorge with very steep impassable rocky slopes and places covered with coniferous forest. In the middle part it flows along a shallow gorge with steep banks. In the lower parts of the river enters the plain area of Toktogul consisting of two terraces. The bottom of the river is rocky all over the river. The length of the Uzunakmat river is 90 km and the area of the basin 2210 square km, the average water flow being 29.5 cubic meters / s. All the rivers of the valley are used for cultivation in the otherwise very arid landscape.
The largest tributary of Uzunakmat is the Karakulja river, carrying its waters along a narrow mountain gorge with hard-to-reach slopes and nude rocks. The slopes of the Kara-Kuldza valley are covered with coniferous forest. The channel of the Karakulja river is also stony, covered with large fragments of rock. The main tributaries of the river are Okum, Kamansuu, Torpok, Atoynok, Aksaibashy, Eeragly, Kol, Akbulak, Kokteskey. Uzunakmat also has a number of tributaries such as Beshtash, Terek, Karakungei, Korokaragai, Shanek, Kushchuchsuu, Mazar-Suu, Atala, Kokbulak, Tereksai, Belbulak, Sogotsay, Sarybulak, Ustasai, Korumtokoi, Janyaryk, Joonterek.
Flora and Fauna
The basin of the Uzunakmat River is a unique place where endemic flora and fauna has been preserved. There are grow spruce-fir, juniper and floodplain-tugai forests, subalpine and alpine meadows covered with multi-colored carpets of flowers, numerous wild animals and birds – all this gives the reserve a fascinating uniqueness. Due to the high humidity of the air, the vegetation bears resemblance to the vegetation of the Mediterranean mountains. Nature is unique in its own way with about a thousand plant species make up the biological diversity of the Uzunakmat river basin. Among them, there are many useful, valuable, medicinal, melliferous (honey producing) and fodder.
Some species of animals that have already disappeared in other places have been preserved in the territory of the reserve. These include snow leopard, Tien Shan brown bear, Turkestan rye, falcon-baloban, borodach, eagle and vultures. These rare species of animals are included in the Red Book of Kyrgyzstan. Moreover, there are boars, goats, foxes, caresses, cuckoos and partridges.
The waterfall in the area doesn’t have an official name, but residents call it “Sogot”. At the area between Ak-Tektir and Cholpon 7 rivers run and one of them is named Sogot, the waterfall is situated at the upper reaches of the Sogot river and is about 15-20 m high.
Cholpon-Ata is the third village when driving from Toktogul (Google map does not recognize it), 15 km west from the first Terek-Suu village. In the village area (better ask for instruction from the locals) there are unusual rocks consisting of limestone that gives the impression of either a piece of cheese with holes or like a wall covered with hieroglyphs. There are also at least seven unnamed caves and they are considered as a holy caves by the locals.
How to get to Uzunakmat
The area where the rivers flow towards Toktogul from the west are one of the least visited places for tourists in Kyrgyzstan. Everyone passing Toktogul reservoir after leaving the Chichkan gorge usually drive through the main highway that goes through the town of Toktogul and then drive around the reservoir from the East side. If you turn right towards west after the Chychkan gorge and cross the Chychkan river before entering Toktogul you will face 15 km of absolute wasteland which will be followed then there will be several villages like Terek-Suu, Cholpon-Ata, Mazar-Suu, Aktektir and the road will begin to disappear slowly until there is no road anymore. This area is the place for the ones who really want to visit unvisited places that have not seen many tourists!
Photos and more detailed information will follow after we have the chance to visit the place. Stay tuned!