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Pearls of nature

Bolshekhekhtsirsky Nature Reserve

Located in the picturesque nook of Khabarovsk region where Amur and Ussury rivers flow together, Bolshekhekhtsirsky (=Big Khekhtsir) Nature Reserve was founded in 1963 to preserve virgin nature of Bolshoi Khekhtsir mountain range.

The Reserve exemplifies rich biodiversity of the Rissian Far East. Comparably small territory of 450 square kilometers (110 thousand acres) hosts 1020 species of vascular plants, including Manchurian Wallnut, Mongolian oak, aralia, eleutherococcus, different species of birch, maple, linden, elm, spruce, etc. Due to numerous lianas and thorny bushes the Reserve reminds luxuriant jungles. While moving up to the mountains one can see vegetation change its structure, turning from broad-leaved and deciduous into dark coniferous forest with groves of stone birch.

Fifty species of mammals inhabit this territory, among them Siberian tiger, brown and Asian black bears, sable, Siberian weasel, Manchurian red deer. The bird checklist includes presently 222 species. The Reserve is home for such endangered birds as Oriental white stork, mandarin duck, osprey, white-tailed sea-eagle, paradise flycatcher, etc. Representatives of tropical and subtropical fauna live here side by side with typical Siberian species. This is an area where many species of plants and animals have their northern limits of distribution.

Historically opened only for scientists, Bolshekhekhtsirsky Reserve started ecotourism activities in 1993. One of the favorable peculiarities of Reserve - close location to Khabarovsk (less than an hour by car from the downtown) - allows developing "one day tourism" on its territory. The Bolshekhekhtsirsky Reserve conducts excursions to a nature museum, and also provides guided tours of eco-trails. Here one can see trees which are the most typical for the Far East, learn the endemic plants used in medicine, enjoy with many flowers and colourful butterflies in summer period. In spring and very beginning of summer visitors can both hear and observe lots of birds, which are mostly endemic to the Far East. An eco-trail leads to Amur River bank where one can see a beautiful landscape of Bolshoi Khekhtsir mountain range. The mouth of Ussuri River and a state border is nearby. China and Chinese fishermen are easily observed on the far bank.

Bolshekhekhtsirsky Reserve is always ready to meet its guests and show them the natural richness it preserves. Presently (the year 2001) the following services are provided for tourists.

Excursions to nature museum (30-40 min.) - US$ 1
Excursion in the Reserve by eco-trail (1-2 hours) - US$ 2
Tea with Russian "pirozhki" at a forest hut - from US$ 1 up v Picnic at a mountain stream - from US$ 6 up
Staying overnight in a forest hut - from US$ 2 up
For more information contact reserve staff on the following address:

Bolshekhekhtsirsky Nature Reserve
Sergey V. Spiridonov, Director
680502, Khabarovsk region,
Bychikha, Yubilejnaja str., 8.
Tel. (4212) 97-44-38, 97-48-72
Tel./Fax (4212) 97-48-69
e-mail: tkach@reserve.kht.ru

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