Badhyz State Natural Reserve

Badhyz State Natural Reserve

Badhyz State Natural Reserve covers almost 90,000ha of remote terrain to the northwest of Serhetabat, at the eastern edge of the Kopet Dag Mountains. Most of the reserve includes a waving plateau, covered in its western part with the largest area of pistachio trees in Central Asia. The pistachios have short blocks, from which a crown of branches radiates out. Some of the pistachios in the reserve are 700 years old, though there are recently planted groves too, clearly distinguished by the regular lines of trees. In spring, the wealth of flowers, including poppies and red and yellow tulips, makes this upland a beautiful sight.

The nature reserve was founded in 1941, originally to provide a protected area for the local herds of the Central Asian kulan. This has proved broadly successful, and a large increase in the population of kulan here has allowed the practice of Badhkyz stocks to populate other reserves across Turkmenistan. The reserve also hosts large populations of goitred gazelle (jieran) and the Transcaspian urial, a curly-horned wild sheep.

Admission to Badhkyz requires special permits both as a frontier zone and a nature reserve. The entrance fee is about 15 US dollars, however various other fees may also be imposed including a potentially swinging photography charge of US$2 per shot.

Depression of Eroulanduz 

Depression of Eroulanduz means “The Land Eaten by Salt” lies at the southern end of this plateau making a great sandstone escarpment that looks out across the saline.  It is a fracture valley some 25 km long and around 10 km wide. Its flat floor is held by a series of salt flats, which turn to saline lakes in winter. These are joined by scattered small cone-shaped hills, the remnants of ancient volcanoes. The salt lakes provide a temporary home for such species as pelicans and cranes. From the top of the mountain, the valley floor of Eroulanduz makes a marvelous view. At the eastern end of Eroulanduz, a V-shaped gorge topped with sheer cliffs runs for 18 km into the upland. Up to 400m in height, and not more than a km across Gyzyljar canyon covered with pink-walled color. 

 Gyzyljar canyon

Gyzyljar canyon offers an exciting panorama. The entrances to ancient cave settlements are distinguished high up in the sheer walls of the canyon. One small two-roomed cave is more accessible and, with a guide, can be clambered down to carefully without specialist equipment.

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