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Sand dune Sari-Kum – islet of desert

The Repablic of Dagestan, Kumtorkalinskiy region

- Sand dune Sari-Kum is a unique monument of Daghestan nature. Geologists accepted it as second in size. The one that’s bigger than it – is the sand dune called “Big erg” in the Sahara desert. And in Europe and Asia there is no sand dune equal to Sari-Kum. Its length is 12 kilometers, maximum width is 4 kilometers, height is 252 meters and the area is 600 hectares. The sand dune surprises by the fact that a huge mass of sand in not in a desert, not on the seashore, but in clay steppe. Climate conditions in the area of sand dune Sari-Kum are worth special attention. It’s the only place in Daghestan, where from the end of spring till the beginning of autumn average monthly temperature can reach 60 degrees.

Already in the middle of spring day temperature of the sand can be over 30 degrees. It’s a truly hot place. Animal kingdom of the sand dune Sari-Kum (what means “yellow sands” in Kumik language) is unique and original. Its uniqueness is that some animals inhabiting this area can’t be met anywhere else in the Caucasus, but they can be found across the sea in Kazakhstan and in the Middle Asia. The question of the Middle Asia animals’ appearance here is still unclear; the scientists only put forward hypotheses. 278 kinds of plants of 54 families grow on the sand dune. The plants on the sand dune are relicts of ancient desert flora, wide-spread before, but now having found the only and the last refuge in the sands of Sari-Kum. Thus, the sands of the dune are like a small fragment of deserts of Asia and they represent peculiar botanical gardens, in which there are plants of other areas of the Earth.  

Legend of a beauty.On the bank of the Shura-ozen a beautiful khan princess lived. She said to the brave men who aspired to marry her: “The noise of the river prevents me from sleeping; I will only marry the one who will draw aside the riverbed of the Shura-ozen”. And I give you a day to do it.” Nobody knew how to do it, but two men ventured still. One of the brave men made gigantic buckets and ran to the sea for sand, and the other at that time cut a mountain with a sabre and waters of the river, freed from its captivity, rushed to the Caspian sea along deep canyon. The one who has run for sand saw that he was late, tossed the buckets with sand at that place and went away in the wide world. Since then, according to the legend, a sandy mountain with several tops appeared on a flat place.

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