Bogdo-Baskunchak nature reserve is located in the north of the Astrakhan region. The two main attractions of the reserve are the Salt lake Baskunchak and the Big Bogdo mountain, which is sacred to Kalmyk Buddhists.
Bogdo-Baskunchak reserve is located 200 kilometers South-East of Volgograd or 300 kilometers North of Astrakhan. In 1993, a nature reserve was created on the territory of 53 thousand hectares. However, in 1997, a Nature Park was formed just around the ecosystem of lake Baskunchak (on the territory of 18 thousand hectares), where the nature protection regime was significantly strengthened.
Salt lake Baskunchak is not only a unique attraction in Russia, but also a rare natural object in the whole world. The concentration of salt in its water is 300 grams per liter, and the salt consists of 99.8% of sodium chloride. This is one of the cleanest indicators in the world. A similar concentration of salt is in the Dead sea in Israel. Everyone knows the famous photos of bathing people who just lie on the water and read the newspaper. In the waters of lake Baskunchak, you can take the same photos.
A few kilometers south of the Salt lake Baskunchak is located the Big Bogdo mountain. Its height is only 171 meters. Not very much to consider it a mountain, but in the area of the Caspian Lowlands around the mountain are only endless steppes.
However, the uniqueness of the Big Bogdo mountain is that its core is an underground monolith of salt. Its specific density is less, so it pushes ancient layers of rock to the surface. Directly on the surface of the mountain, you can see layers of rock from the Paleozoic period (200-250 million years old). This salt dome continues to push the mountain out even now. Every year it "grows" by 1 mm.
More than 200 species of birds live in the steppe zone of the reserve, 20 of them are listed in the Red Book of endangered species. The animal and plant life characteristic of the steppe regions is no less diverse. It is especially beautiful here in April-May, when the entire steppe is covered with flowers. Many tulips make the steppe very picturesque during their flowering. By summer, the sweltering heat (temperatures above 40° are common here) scorches the surface of the steppe, and it becomes yellowish.