Chatkal is the one of the most speleologically unexplored area in Kyrgyzstan. It is located in remote, hard reach area on the South-Western Tien-Shan. Bounded by high-mountain ranges from three sides and by the border to Uzbekistan from forth one, the area is a terra incognita to the speleologists.
All three mountain ranges there consist karst formation. The largest, Chatkal Ridge, which is located in the southeast of the region, the Pskem mountain range, which is located in the northwest and is the border between Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and the smallest is the Sandalash range, which lies in between.
According to the geological structure, extensive areas of mountain massifs are composed of limestones of Carboniferous age. Geologist are believe that during the breakthrough of the limestone strata by volcanic intrusions, high-heated solutions broke through the cracks and faults to the surface, thereby forming underground channels that could be filled with secondary cave formations, such as crystals. But also a kartistification there is going on in “classic” manner.
The elevation difference in the upper part of Chatkal river basin is about 2200 meters, and in the lower part about 1600 meters. The heights of the watersheds are more than 4000 meters. High-altitude plateaus are located at altitudes of up to 3000-3200 meters.
Average monthly air temperature: May 15 C0; June 20 C0; July-August 23-25 C0; September 15 С The greatest amount of precipitation falls in March April May, the least amount on August and September. In winter and autumn, the precipitation is more than 45-50 mm per month. Chatkal is one of the humidest areas of Kyrgyzstan.
The landscapes of Chatkal are spectacular and brerath-taking – Canyons, gorges, high ridges topped by glaciers, boundless subalpine and alpine pastures, clear and fast rivers made this place one the most beautiful parts of Central Asia. Biodiversity of Chatkal is very high and some species are very rare, like bear, snow leopard, eagles, Asian Paradise Flycatcher and endemic species – Menzbier’s marmot. To protect these and other speces animals and birds at Chatkal region was establish a natural reserve.
Chatkal is low populated area. Density of population is low and sporadic. Most people make their living out by farming. However, there are existing some mines – antimony production, there local people can earn some money.
According to local residents, in 1975 on the Sandalash mountain massif, geologists found 5 caves and another one was found on the north-western slope of Chatkal range. The longest cave was 96 meters. No one cave have been explored. The area is rich of the springs, sinkholes and dolines that can be sign of caves.
Huge karst areas and complex terrain require a long-term survey probably using horses or donkeys to carry equipment and people to high-altitude plateaus.
Our fund, after receiving all permissions of the State Environmental Protection Agency and local authorities to conduct research expeditions at the area, plans to begin a complex speleological survey in the summer 2018.
We plan to set up a base camp upstream of Chatkal river, as high as we can get by transport. This camp will be a main point to explore the Chatkal range. Another camp will be set up at Chandalash riverbed to cave hunting at the Chandalash and Pskem ranges.
All speleologists who want to participate in the expedition, please contact our fund. The first expedition planned for the period from May 25 to June 15, 2018.
Goals and objectives of the project:
1. Assessment of karst areas
2. Investigation of known caves that locals know
3. Search for new caves.
4. Geological investigations
5. Biological research
6. Archaeological research
The cost of participation is determined by the number of participants, as this determines the cost of logistics and all other services for the maintenance of the base camp and the expedition as a whole.
The price includes all equipment for the base camp (tents, tents and kitchen equipment, generator, etc.), car rental, payment to the cook, issuance of permits, consumables (gasoline for the generator, gas, etc.), organization.
The main part of the expenses is provided for rent off road transport (former soviet military vehicle), which we need for more efficient work.
If the number of participants is more, then the cost for participation in the expedition will be less.
All interested speleologists can take part in the research.
The maps show the contours of the area of interest.