This nature reserve was established during Soviet Union period to protect gazelles. In 2005 it became a National Park with the aim to protect Caspian seals and other animals living in this peninsula. After our visit we can confirm that both Caspian seals and gazelles are not living anymore in the park. We heard rumors about the possibility of the reintroduction in the future of gazelles in the park transferring animals from Shirvan NP. Even if these animals were disappeared, the visit of Absheron Milli Park was really interesting and a little bit shocking for the large number of snakes. Absheron is about 60 km (1 hour) from Baku and along this road there are several historic monuments. To reach the park you need a car (or a taxi) because it is at the extreme end of the peninsula, where public transportation is not present. To reach the entrance gate is very easy because it is just where the only road finish. We were there in September and we parked the car in front of the gate. When we bought the entrance tickets, we were said that no vehicles are allowed inside the park. This appeared very strange to us because there are more than 9 km from the gate to the only building inside with the restrooms. While we were looking at the billboard on which picture/common name/scientific name of all the animals living in the park (historic one because it reports wolves, gazelles, Caspian seals and other animals no more living in the park) we have seen a car going out from the gate. There were tourists on the car (the only tourist there other than us), so, after a discussion with the ranger, we were allowed to enter with our vehicle. There is only a road leading to the end of the peninsula. It is unpaved but 4WD is not necessary. The flora is dry steppe with some ponds were birds could be seen. We have seen grey heron Ardea cinerea, great white egret Ardea alba, tufted duck Aythya fuligula, white winged tem Chilodonias leucopterus, little bustard Tetrax tetrax, marsh harrier Circus aeruginus, Northern harrier Circus cyaneus. The road ends at a parking place next to a small building about 8 km from the gate. This parking area in fact is at the center of a junction of 4 roads. Two of them are perpendicular to the road coming from the gate and they are very short (just 2-3 hundred meters) leading to the Caspian sea waters at both sides of the peninsula. We selected the road on the left and we started to walk along the canal going from a pound to the sea. While walking we saw a lot of movement in the canal waters just a couple of meters from us. It was a big surprise to see tens on heads of water snakes disappearing and appearing again next to us. Then we saw many snakes swimming in the water of the small canal and some of them resting on the canal banks. They were big snakes most of them around 2 metres. When we reached the lagoon where the road ends, we saw snakes also in the salt waters of the lagoon. They are Dice snakes Natrix tesellata, a non-poisonous snake. The snakes are very numerous because the fish were very abundant, in fact many fish go in the lagoon to breed. We spent a lot of time making several pictures to this uncommon wonder of the nature. From the parking area it departs a track to the end of the peninsula. We were said by the ranger to walk in the middle of the track looking to the ground in front of us because in dry area of the park is common a very poisonous viper (Vipera lebetina). Considering the number of the sea snakes we walked looking carefully in front of us but no vipers were seen. The track goes on the beach and again dice snakes were swimming in the open sea in front of the beach. Several birds were there, Caspian gull Larus cachinnans, Pygmy cormorant Microcarso pygmaeus, and so on, but it was difficult to take pictures because they were very suspicious and flew away at a great distance (300 – 400 m from us). Very strange situation also because they leave in a protected area and we were the only human beings in the all national park. We saw a couple of Carpathian wild boar Sus scrofa Attila at very short distance. Although the main objectives behind the creation of the park have not been met, the visit of this national park appears very interesting (at least in the time of year when the snakes are not hibernating) and can be associated with the visit of the archaeological sites (like Ateshgah, the fire temple and Yanar Dag, the never extinguished fire) along the way from Baku to Absheron.
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