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Visit Kara Dag in Crimea!
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When considering a visit to Kara Dag, think "jagged mountains," "Jurassic landscape," and the famous Golden Gate. Kara Dag is a nature reserve on the southeastern coast of Crimea near the small resort town of Koktebel.

"Kara Dag" means "black mountain" in the Crimean Tatar language. Kara Dag emerged as a volcano during Jurassic times, and over the intervening 150-160 million years the lava rocks have weathered into interesting, sometimes fantastical, shapes. One lava formation is called the Golden Gate, which rises out of the Black Sea just off shore from the reserve. It's iconic image decorates thousands of souvenirs - calendars, bookmarks, magnets, and postcards. Another formation is the Devil's Finger, a massive slab towering at cliff's edge.

Kara Dag Mountain in Crimea

Kara Dag Nature Reserve includes a museum that is open to the public free of charge. Also onsite are a dolphinarium and aquarium. To witness first-hand the intriguing Jurassic landscape (including the Golden Gate), visitors must hike into the backcountry. It's a four-hour hike and is only available as a guide-led excursion (fee-based). It's in Russian and visitors may wish to bring an interpreter. The first third of the hike is through fields and forests, with the remainder made up of impressive paths that weave beautifully through the jagged mountains overlooking the Black Sea.

Although the specialness of Kara Dag was touted as far back as the early 1900s, it wasn't until 1979 that the area was designated a nature reserve. A visionary professor, Dr. T. I. Vyazemsky, from Moscow University was instrumental in establishing and funding a biological station at Kara Dag and in making its name known in the scientific community and beyond.

The reserve covers about 25 square kilometers (over 2,800 hectares) and is home to thousands of plant species. Many are rare; several are endangered and are listed in the Red Book of Ukraine. In this unique and fragile environment, the reserve serves as an important protector of biodiversity.

Kara Dag Mountain in Crimea

The best time to travel to Kara Dag is spring through fall. Flowers will be in bloom in spring and early summer. The landscape becomes more sere as summer transitions into fall. Use sturdy walking shoes, for portions of the hike are steep and rocky, plus bring a hat, sunscreen, and water. Avoid hiking on the intensely hot days in the summer - they can be brutal in Crimea. Kara Dag Nature Reserve is near the village of Shchebetovka and is reachable by car or bus from several convenient points, such as Koktebel, Feodosiya, and Simferopol.

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