Pearl of the Volga Region

Lake Elton has been added to the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR)

The decision to include Lake Elton to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves was taken in the International Coordination Council meeting of the UNESCO of the Man and the Biosphere Programme in June 2019. Elton is the second natural site of the Volgograd region which has received international recognition.  

Located on the border of Kazakhstan, Lake Elton Biosphere Reserve occupies over 207 thousand hectares of land. The largest salt lake in Europe was named «golden» in the old days. The epithet is connected with the colour of water ranging from golden to pink due to certain species of bacteria. Extracted from the lake since the end of the 17th century, salt gave it another nickname «royal salt shaker». Saline concentration in the lake is as much as one and a half times higher than in the Dead Sea; salt has been extracted for more than a century with a total amount of «white gold» for over billion tons. A new history of the lake starts at the beginning of 20th century: it became a spa resort for medicinal muds and brine. 

A unique ecosystem has preserved despite active human reclamation of these lands.  About 600 plants and over 330 species of animals recorded in the surrounding area [Prieltonye]. There are over 265 species of birds what makes nearly a half of the bird diversity in Europe. A crossroad of birds migratory paths Lake Elton is central ornithological territory of global importance.

There are other attractions in the biosphere reserve complimentary to the lake: Mountain Ulagan, Sorochye valley, Bolshaya Smorogda mineral spring, and Elton peninsula. Mountain Ulagan is unique natural attraction and  the highest peak of the Volga Region (68 meters above sea level). Petrified remains of ancient marine animals can easily be found in Ulagan today whereas once it was a bottom of a prehistoric ocean.  The mountain is a salt dome that continues to “grow” rising above the grounds by 2 millimeters a year.

Based on