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Discover the Enigmatic Barsa-Kelmes Nature Reserve in Ostrov Barsakelmes

Nestled in the heart of Kyzylorda Province, the Barsa-Kelmes Nature Reserve is a hidden gem that offers a unique and captivating experience for nature enthusiasts. This former island, once the largest in the Aral Sea, is now a fascinating destination that showcases the beauty and resilience of the natural world. Let's dive into the wonders that await you in Barsa-Kelmes.

Unveiling the Flora and Fauna

The Barsa-Kelmes Nature Reserve is home to a diverse range of plant and animal species. With over 278 species of plants, including vibrant tulips, Calligonum, and saxaul, the reserve's flora paints a colorful picture against the arid landscape. As you explore the reserve, keep an eye out for the rare and endangered animals that call this place home. The reserve boasts a rich variety of invertebrates, reptiles, birds, and 28 species of mammals.

A Haven for Research and Conservation

Barsa-Kelmes Nature Reserve is not just a picturesque destination; it also serves as a hub for scientific research and conservation efforts. Researchers continuously study the effects of climate change, desertification, and the formation of the biosphere within the reserve. By understanding these processes, they strive to protect and preserve the delicate balance of this unique ecosystem.

Exploring the Aral Sea Region

While visiting Barsa-Kelmes, take the opportunity to explore the surrounding Aral Sea region. Once the fourth-largest lake in the world, the Aral Sea has experienced significant shrinkage due to Soviet irrigation projects. The region's history and the environmental impact of this disaster make it a compelling destination for those interested in understanding the consequences of human intervention on nature.

Fun Facts about Barsa-Kelmes

  • Barsa-Kelmes means "Island of the Wild Sheep" in Kazakh, reflecting the island's historical significance and unique ecosystem.
  • The island was once the largest in the Aral Sea, with an area of 133 km² in the 1980s.
  • Barsa-Kelmes ceased to be an island in the 1990s as the sea became more shallow, and it became part of the mainland.
  • The reserve is known as "the place of no return" due to stories of people returning after years or even decades, despite claiming to have been there for only a few days.

When to Visit Barsa-Kelmes

The best time to visit Barsa-Kelmes is during the spring and autumn months when the weather is mild and pleasant. The reserve's diverse flora is in full bloom during spring, creating a vibrant and picturesque landscape. Autumn offers a different charm, with golden hues painting the surroundings. However, it's important to note that the reserve can be quite hot during the summer months, so plan accordingly.


Barsa-Kelmes Nature Reserve in Ostrov Barsakelmes is a captivating destination that offers a unique blend of history, natural beauty, and scientific research. As you explore this former island, you'll be immersed in a world of diverse flora and fauna, while also gaining insight into the environmental challenges faced by the Aral Sea region. Whether you're a nature lover, a history enthusiast, or a curious traveler, Barsa-Kelmes is a must-visit destination that will leave you in awe of its wonders.

Updated on 27 May 2024

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