Koytendag mountains & Dinosaur Plateau, representing spur of Gissar range of Pamir-Alay great mountain system. Name “Koytendag” (or Kugitang) originates from the Persian “kuhi” and Turkic “teng” and means “almost impassable mountains”. The mountain terrain is cut with numerous valleys and deep canyons, the longest of which is Hodjachilgaz Baba with a length of 28 km.
Turkmenistan is home to some of the world’s most beautiful and unique landscapes. One of the most breathtaking places in the country is located just a 4-hour drive from Kerki airport, in the far east of Turkmenistan. This place is home to the highest mountain in Turkmenistan – a sight that will astound you!
The Koytendag Mountain (also known as Kugitang) stands tall at an impressive 3,137 meters above sea level. It stretches along the Uzbekistan border taking its roots from Pamir Mountains in Tajikistan. Ayry baba is the highest point of the mountain and named after a local “sadhu” (a wise religious man) who was buried here. The views from its peak are simply stunning; with vast expanses of desert and snow-capped mountains, stretching as far as the eye can see. The place is famous for its nature, rivers, wildlife, waterfalls, caves and open-air museum like “dinosaur plateau”. It is no wonder that this mountain has become a popular destination for hikers and adventurers looking for an unforgettable experience.
As you enter the Charshangi region on the way to Khodjapil (the last settlement close to Uzbekistan border), you will drive through the green villages with number of rivers spread all over the region. Although there is Amudarya River flowing through the area, most of the water streams are from the melting snow from the highest peaks of the mountains. The road may be rough and stony but for those nature lovers who are looking for unique experience will not mention about it.
The first attraction of the site, which is the farthest, is the “Umbar” waterfall. The best time to visit and enjoy the waterfall is between April and June, until all the snow melts and then dries out. The place is hard to reach and one will have to leave the car at the beginning of the gorge and take 20 minutes’ walk through a narrow path between giant mountains to spot the waterfall.
Another remarkable stop is the “Dinosaur Plateau”, 10 minutes’ drive from Umbar waterfall. As you arrive to the destination local “jigits” will greet you loudly and offer you a ride on horses to the dinosaur footprints. Climbing may be fun but also difficult; it might take 30-40 minutes to reach the plateau. After reaching, the plateau one will agree that it is worth adding Koytendag in the itinerary. There you will see a huge concrete like flat platform tilted down the hill with footprints of dinosaur of different sizes. While exploring the dinosaur fossils you can time travel thousands of years back to the times of dinosaurs and picture how dinosaurs tried to escape the fire in the lowlands and ran up the hill through already cooling lava leaving deep footprints behind. With a visit to Dinosaur Plateau, you can explore the wonders of pre-historic times.
A breathtaking view to the sunset while climbing down the hill and “baaing,” (sounds of sheep) of the herds will be a perfect garnish to the end of the day. Whether you are looking for an exciting adventure or a peaceful getaway, this is one spot that should not be missed. So come on down and take part in this amazing journey back in time! Visit the Koytendag and let your imagination run wild as you explore this unique piece of history.
Featured photo: copyright by © Jeremy Holden, whc.unesco.org