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Russian Natural Reserves: Caucasian Natural Biosphere Reserve
August 9, 2020 16:21

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The Caucasian Biosphere Reserve is a natural state-protected area located in the Krasnodar Territory, Adygea and Karachay-Cherkessia. The area of the Caucasian Biosphere Reserve is about 300 hectares and it is the largest and oldest protected area in the Caucasus. In addition, in the European part of the mainland, it is the largest mountain forest reserve.

The Caucasian Reserve was formed on May 12, 1924 on the site of a former hunting reserve and was originally called the "Caucasian Bison Reserve", since the main purpose of its creation was to preserve the number of bison inhabiting the Caucasus mountains. The modern name appeared relatively recently - in 2007, in honor of the scientist and the first director of the Zubrovy Reserve. It received the status of a biosphere reserve in February 1979, and in 1999 it was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Working hours

Yew-boxwood grove:

in summer (from March 15 to October 31) - from 09.00 to 18.00,
in winter (from November 1 to March 14) - from 09.00 to 17.00.

Mountains, rivers and lakes

The Caucasian Reserve is, first of all, a mountainous territory with the western part of the Main Caucasian Ridge passing through it from Mount Fisht (2868 m) and the lateral ridge adjacent to it. The most majestic mountains of the main ridge are Chugush (3238 m), Urushten (3020 m), North Pseashkha (3257 m), Tsakhvoa (3345 m). And on the side ridge, Tybga (3065 m), Chelipsi (3097 m) and Damkhurts (3193 m) stand out.

The largest rivers on the northern side of the ridge are Belaya, Malaya Laba, Bolshaya Laba, and on the southern side, these are Mzymta, Shahe, Sochi, Khosta and Psou, which waters flow towards the Black Sea.

There are more than 120 large and small lakes in the Caucasian Reserve, a feature of which is their high-altitude location. The largest of them is the Big Imeretinskoe or Lake of Silence with an area of about 200 square meters at an altitude of 2530 meters above sea level. They call it silent for a reason, because there is an amazing silence around, not interrupted by the sonorous noise of the rivers. The largest dam is Lake Kardyvach, from where the Mzymta River originates.

Fauna and flora

On the slopes of large mountains, in subalpine meadows and green valleys, on rocky slopes and in broad-leaved, beech-fir forests, among the evergreen shrubs and flowers of the Caucasus, a huge number of animals live. The number of species living in the Caucasian nature reserve exceeds 15,000. There are 248 species of birds alone, and 89 species of mammals. Other classes of the animal world of the earth are represented - reptiles, amphibians, insects, molluscs, as well as 33 species of fish.

The flora of the Western Caucasus is rich in more than 2,200 plant species. More than 900 species grow in the forests, 165 of which are trees and shrubs. There are 195 species of relict plants. In some regions, there are truly unique plants - millennial yews, alpine flowers, huge ferns. 

One of the most visited places of the reserve is the Yew and Boxwood Grove, which is located separately on the territory of the city of Sochi. The relic forest of 300 hectares includes more than 400 species of unique plants, including the remnants of preglacial forests, miraculously preserved in the only place on Earth.

Visiting rules

There are  basic rules of visiting, which should be treated with special attention, so as not to overshadow the joy of being in a unique place:

entrance to the protected   area is possible only with a pass, which can be issued at the official representative offices,
walk only on pre-agreed routes,
do not cut trees, do not pick flowers, do not pick mushrooms and berries,
do not litter or write on the rocks,
do not burn fires,
do not fish or hunt,
do not frighten animals,
arrange parking only in specially equipped places.


Fans of active recreation can get to know the nature of the reserve more closely by walking along special equipped routes as part of an organized tourist group with a guide or on their own (from 3 people). Their total length is about 450 kilometers along mountain paths, rocks and valleys, and each of them is from 6 to 72 kilometers. All routes have a marked trail and equipped parking. Passage of routes is calculated from 1 to 6 days. The most popular natural attractions that will meet on these small trips are the Fisht, Oshten and Pshekho-Su mountains, the Huko and Kardyvach lakes, the Aishkha pass, the Pseashkho massif and the Achishkho ridge, the Engelmanovy glades.

There are various accommodation options for living in a protected area, from modest tourist lodges to comfortable guesthouses.

Another option for immersion in the nature of the Caucasian Reserve is volunteering. For all possible help in putting things in order, landscaping and other works, a unique opportunity will be given to spend a certain amount of time on the reserved land, to feel needed and useful, to meet other people who are not indifferent to nature.

Additional services

In the vicinity of Krasnaya Polyana, a large eco-complex "Laura" is open to the public, where the following services are available:

guest houses,
aviary complex of wild animals,
organization of excursions,
visitor center with a souvenir shop,
rope park,
a cafe,

Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: Russian natural reserves Caucasian Natural Biosphere Reserve Krasnaya Polyana ecotourism Krasnodar Territory 

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