In 2020, we made a decision to conduct a comprehensive speleo-biological expedition for biologists in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. In 2019, we made a reconnaissance of karst areas in Tajikistan. We learned how to arrange logistics, calculated distance and travel time. We examined several unexplored areas where there might be caves and karst springs. As in Kyrgyzstan, biological studies in karst areas have not been previously conducted in Tajikistan. In 2018, a group of foreign scientists conducted a series of research in southern Kyrgyzstan. Those were easily accessible areas. This time, we intend to explore new caves on western slopes of the Ferghana Range in southern Kyrgyzstan. The area is the most humid place in Kyrgyzstan. The annual precipitation level is about 900-1000 mm. The slopes of the Ferghana Range, overgrown with walnut trees, conceal several caves, which locals speak of.

Two caves were described by orientalist Valentin Ogudin, in his book “Cultic Caves of Ferghana”. Here is what he wrote: … The cave Kyndyn-Kyry is located in the Kuraves river valley. It is very secluded place. An entrance to the cave is under a steep rock. The entrance is not visible due to thickets of shrubs. Inside the cave one can see ice stalagmites and long thin crystals. There is a glacier is on the left side of the cave. Among rotten wooden roof supports, amazing creatures run right on the ice – myriapods (millipedes). In 1971, when I was in the cave for the first time, there were a large number of the creatures. Later in 1988, there were less number of millipedes and the size of the cave glacier also decreased. One of biologists claimed that it is a new species of insect. I think the insect species is unique. If so, then the cave should be protected by law.

In another cave named Tash-Unkur, located not far from the Kyndyn-Kyry cave, V. Ogudin found bones and a skull of cave bear. He brought several bones to Samarkand, where paleozoologists made a hydrocarbon analysis. The result stated that the bones are about 7-8 thousand years old. That was a subspecies of a brown bear, very large (There are no such animals in the Tien-Shan). The bear was named Ursus Arctos Ogudinus. The length of the cave was about 200 m.

Therefore, we intend to explore the western slope of the Ferghana Range and find new caves in  the area.

We invite all interested cavers and biologists to take part in the expedition, which will take place in the second half of August 2020. Expedition dates from August 14 to August 27. Dates are not fixed and may change.

The programme and route of the expedition:

Day 1. Arrival of participants.

Day 2. Departure to Karakul town and further to the Ferghana Range (Kara-Alma village).

Days 3 – 5. Exploration of the karst area and caves.

Day 4. Departure from Kara-Alma to Osh – Batken – Khujant (Tajikistan)

Day 5. Khujant – Aini – Nurek.

Days 6-7. Exploration of karst areas along the way to the Surkho Range

Day 8. Drive to the salt karst Kulob on the Khoja Mumin mountain range

Days 9-10. Exploration of salt caves and surroundings of Khoja Mumin

Day 11. Return trip to Nurek – Dushanbe

Day 12. Dushanbe – Aini – Khujand.

Day 13. Khujand – Osh

It is possible to fly from Dushanbe as well.

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