Aksu Zhabagly is in Southern Kazakhstan.
The total Jabagly village population is about 3500 people. There is a small shop and public transport connection with Turarkent (former Vannovka) and Shymkent.
Flora and fauna
Lying at the foot of the West Tien Shan Mountains, Jabagly is the gateway to Aksu-Zhabagly State Natural Reserve. It is located in the western extremity of Talasski Alatau ridge and ranges at elevations from 1100m to 4238m (Sayram Peak). The oldest protected area in Central Asia, Aksu-Jabagly nature reserve is home for more then 1300 species of plants, 51 species of mammals, including the rare snow leopard, and tien-shan white-clawed bear, and over 300 species of birds.
Arriving from Shymkent please take a minibus from Aina Bazaar bus station to Turarkent in a day light time. There is one straight minibus from Aina Bazaar to Jabagly leaving daily about 11 a.m. (as soon as a driver collect enough passengers) for 400 tenge per person, but if you miss this one take another goes to Vannovka. In Vannovka/Turarkent change into taxi goes to Jabagly from bazaar area for 300 tenge per passenger if you wait for the others. In Jabagly Village ask a taxi driver to bring you to Svetlana Baskakova homestay.
There are trains from Almaty (12 hours) or from Astana (24 hours). Buy train tickets to Tulkubas station. The distance from Tulkubas to Jabagly is 15 km. Taxi is available.
You should book the Aksu-Jabagly Nature Reserve visit at least in 2 days in advance via call to Svetlana: +7 775 793 22 46 or +7 72538 55 686 or via e-mail: [email protected] By the Nature Reserve regulation there can not be more then 5 people in a group and each group should be escort by Park Ranger and Professional Guide (Biologist). The price is 2600 KZ tenge per person per day + 4000 for Ranger service from a group. Other costs as guide, transport, horse hire, homestay accommodation, camping, etc. may be easy calculated by Svetlana after your individual request to: [email protected]
1.Red Hill and Stalactite Cave (1 day, 38 km). This place gets its name from the large numbers of flowering Greig Tulips that bloom from late April to early May. It is said that there can be up to 62 flowering tulips within 1 square meter. While spending the day, there are places for picnic. Also, with more than 2 km of underground roads, the stalactite cave is accessible. The cave is filled with both large and small halls of stalactites and an underground lake.
2. Aksu Gorge (38 km, 7 hours including 3 hours of hiking). This route leads up the mountains to Aksu Gorge which is 300m deep. At the bottom of canyon there is a mixture of birch and poplar trees with coils of Clematis making their way up the walls. Within site from the gorge tourists can admire the snow-covered Karjantau range with Sairamskii peak.
3. Bokeitau Mountain (70 km, 2 days). The route introduces different landscapes and natural zones from semi-desert up to deciduous fruit forests. Along the journey, tourists will visit several caves, go swimming, try water that locals believe has healing powers, and see the paradise flycatcher. They will go up to highest peak of Boroldai range, Bokeitau Mountain, and will visit “Spirit Valley”.
4.Interregional route “Jabagly- Tonkeris- Kaskasu” (60 km, 3 days). From Jabagly, tourist will travel to the Aksu River to lunch at Karalma Bridge. The trip then continues to the village of Tonkeris where tourists will stay for the evening and cultural show. In the morning, tourists go to the Sayramsu River where they will lunch before beginning their descent into Kaskasu village homestay. There is an option of returning to Shymkent or back to Jabagly.
5. Karatau Mountains (different flora and fauna from that of the Tien Shan, Kornilovka Lake),
6. The bird ringing station at Chokpak (during the Autumn bird migration - September/October only),
7. The Mausoleum of Kozha Ahmet Yassaui at Turkistan,
8. The 12-16th century ruins of Otyrar.
Plenty natural horse back or hiking treks around Aksu-Jabagly and Sayram-Ugam National Parks with professional biologists, multi-days expeditions to snow peaks and deserts.
Kazakhstan’s Southern Border Holds Hidden Tourism Potential.
On Kazakhstan’s southern border high in the Tien Shan Mountains lies an enchanting paradise home to rarely seen petroglyphs, majestic ibex, brown bears and a myriad of wildflowers that carpet the land as far as the eye can see. Aksu Zhabagly National Nature Preserve is the oldest in Central Asia having been established in 1926 it is one of Kazakhstan’s hidden touristic gems.
In late April and early May, the wild tulips are the thing to see. There are 24 species in Kazakhstan and it can rightly be claimed that tulips originated here. In June and July, the variety of wild flowers increases and there are meadows of purple, yellow and white. Each small microclimate supports its own species. With such abundant plant life, it is no surprise that the park is home to a wide variety of insects, birds, reptiles and amphibians. Below the snow line, pools are filled with tadpoles and in the evenings, Danatin toads can be seen along the side of the mountain streams. Small Snake-eyed Scinks bask in the sun on flat black rocks and scurry off into the alpine blooms. It takes three days trek on horseback over uneven ground, which may fill you with some apprehension but the horses are in the capable hands of trained rangers. It is also possible to hire a guide such as Svetlana Baskakova, director of Wild Nature who has excellent English – Svetlana is also a Botanist with amazing knowledge of the park. The apprehension will soon pass as the surroundings envelop you to be replaced with excited expectation about what is around the next corner. There is a famous route "Jabagly - Kshi-Kaindy Waterfall - Ulken Kaindy Refuge - Kaskabulak Petroglyphs (30 km, 3 days hiking or horse riding). In a first day you will reach a popular destination in 12 km from Jabagly Village, this site features one of the most impressive waterfalls in the area. The road continues 6 km ahead to Ulken-Kaindy mountain refuge. It is possible to stay overnight here or camp outside. The following day, tourists will hike up to Kaskabulak petroglyphs, returning to Ulken-Kaindy again in the evening. The third day is spent returning to the homestays in the village of Jabagly. The area also includes wildflower meadows high above the snowline towards the 3,800-metre peak of Kaskabulak and the Bronze and Iron Age petroglyphs. They were discovered in the late 1950’s and since then, only around 300 people have actually visited them and they are still waiting to be formally catalogued and fully studied. Often large herds of ibex feed on the rocky slopes and the calls of the snow cock and horned lark can be heard around the glaciated valley. Large Himalayan griffon vultures are also often seen overhead. Black rocks reflect the sun and the ancient images of ibex, hunters and dogs or wolves are clearly visible. They are scattered randomly over the floor of this bowl-shaped area and there are estimated to be around 2,000 of them. Visitors to the area also have the opportunity to pass through wild juniper forests and patches of apple trees. A recent group of visitors also had the fortune to see a brown bear in the wild. The region around Jabagaly is an exciting and vibrant place with Shymkent to the West, Taraz to the East and Tashkent to the South. The park sits on the Silk Road and is not only a nature lovers dream but is also becoming an important ecotourism centre. Organisations such as Wild Nature can arrange home stays and will arrange all of the permits and provisions needed for your visit to the nature preserve.
First of all, please, bear in your mind - water in any tap in Jabagly Village is an exellent quality mountain mineral drinkable water! In all the rivers in Aksu-Jabagly Nature Reserve water is drinkable as well. This is icy fast running clear beverage! Secondary, being in Jabagly do not miss to try KUMYSS - fermented mare's milk - the Asian analogy of European beer. Up to 6 percent of alcohol. This is seasonally available beverage - from mid May to mid September.
You may stay in comfortable Kazakh style homestays in Jabagly Village in 2 km from Aksu-Jabagly Nature Reserve border. The community based tourism is quite developed here under Wild Nature NGO management. The price in 2015 is 10 000 KZ tenge per person per day and includes breakfast and dinner. Homemade food is a feature of this kind of staying. Please do reservation at least one day in advance via call to Svetlana: +7 775 793 22 46 or +7 72438 55 686 or via e-mail: [email protected] As soon as it is a small private business number of rooms is limited, we may accommodate 14 people at the moment only.
You may stay in a double room in simple village house with primitive facilities as toilet in the backyard, water in tap (but exellent quality mountain mineral drinkable water!) for 3000 KZ tenge per person per night. Bedding is available. Please do reservation at least one day in advance via call to Svetlana: +7 775 793 22 46 or +7 72438 55 686 or via e-mail: [email protected] As soon as it is a small private business number of rooms is limited, we may accommodate 8 people at the moment only.
Coming into Aksu-Jabagly Nature Reserve you do not need to bring your own tent. Two mountain refuges are avaliable for free (price for accommodation or cabin day use is included into Park entrance fee).
If you are a backpacker with a tent - you may camp for free in Svetlana's backyard in apple orchard.