Ecotourist route "Na Sokolyne Berdo" (“To The Falcon's Rock”)

 The best time for visiting from 15.03 till 30.10

 Overall extent of the route - 4100 m

Duration 3,5-4,0 hours


1. Beginning of the route, 330 m above sea level. The route begins near a decorative wooden sign with an inscription "Kuziy massif" on the roadside of the Uzhgorod-Rakhiv motorway, from which a winding road departs. Alongside there is a secular avenue of lindens, ashes and other species, which a hundred meters further leads us to a two-storied building, where the small museum of the nature of the Velykyi Bychkiv state forest and hunting enterprise is located. There is a foundation covered with rich vegetation near it. It is the remainder of the hunting palace of the Habsburger family - Austro-Hungarian monarchs, who liked to come on vacation to these places. The mentioned avenue also was founded during their government. Nearby there are decorative wooden carved compositions made by the local craftsmen. In general woodcarving is one of the most ancient and glorified local handicrafts. Hutsul carved things are known far outside the Ukrainian Carpathians.

100 m further the road rests on a barrier with the information boards placed next to it, this is the territory of the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve. In fact, the route begins from here, from the office of the Kuziy-Svydovets forestry located in a pretty two-storeyed wooden house.

In general the route is laid through a reserved forest tract situated in the basin of the stream Kuziy. It passes along a picturesque narrow valley lying between two alps - Tempa (1091 m) and Polyanskyi (1094 m). The route leads us to a meeting with the remains of the ancient nature - to steep rocks, trees-giants and decorative relict plants. It is the world of damp beech woods with a multi-coloured grassy tier, which luxuriously blooms in spring. Among the plants that strike the eye most of all are Dentaria glandulosa, Symphytum cordatum, Primula vulgaris, Corydalis solida, Isopyrum thalictroides, etc. Along the stream Kuziy quite often one can find the traces of deers, roes, wild boars, which come here to drink water. If you quietly follow the route at dawn, you can see these animals.

2. 400 m. Waterfall, 360 m above sea level. A belt of Jurassic marbleised limestone passes through the tract, they outcrop in some places forming rocky cliffs. Here two-meter picturesque waterfall comes out between them. A number of rare heat-loving ferns grow directly on the rocks - Asplenium viride and À. trichomanes, Phyllitis scolopendrium and Polipodium vulgare, among which some groups of endemic carpathian bluebells (Campanula carpatica) stand in beauty. Nearby other rare limestone  species grow: Physalis alkekengi, Cornus mas, Libanotis montana, Helleborus purpurascens and others. A little further behind the rocks there is a beech wood with an admixture of hornbeam. Along the streams the black alder is widespread forming a narrow belt. Near, on the bank, Petasites alba grows in great numbers, huge leaves of which sometimes run up to the human height.

The rich forage reserve and the absence of significant disturbing factors attract such a rare bird as the golden eagle. During last 5 years a pair of these birds of prey constantly nests here. Such a rare predator as honey-buzzard is neither an uncommon thing in the tract, it finds here favourable conditions and plenty of insects on forest glades. During some hours of the excursion here it is possible to familiarise oneself with many species of birds characteristic for the woods of the Ukrainian Carpathians.

3. 1000 m. Lower gallery, 380 m above sea level. On the route there are two interesting geological memorials  dolomite galleries left by the geologists, who carried out prospecting works here in the sixtieth. They searched for gold and other non-ferrous metals. First of them, 33 m length, is situated on the left of the road.  Manifold fauna of bats is closely connected with these man-made underground galleries. Altogether 10 species of bats were registered in the galleries, 6 of them are among rare species. They are greater horseshoe and little horseshoe bat, barbastelle, brown bat and Bechstein's bat, long-eared bat. In winter the concentration of bats in these underground repositories numbers some tens of individuals. In general the galleries by their conditions remind very much natural caves. Nevertheless there are certain differences, in particular, the humidity in the galleries  is lower, so it can become an obstacle for the settling of certain groups of living organisms. The entrance to the lower gallery is blocked by a metal lattice. It was done to control the attendance and, accordingly, to reduce the factor of disturbance to the minimum. The apertures in the lattice are sufficient for  penetration of bats and other organisms, which live here, through them. If you are lucky enough, it is possible to see in this place the Aesculapian snake. This snake twines around the God Aesculapius' cup in the well-known symbol of medicine. This non-poisonous reptile is the biggest in the Carpathians and can reach two meters in length. The original microclimate of the tract is favourable for this rare species.

The clean as glass water of the stream Kuziy babbles on the right of the road. The stream trout is still found in it. Along the stream there are luxurious brushwood of Petasites kablikianus and Eupatorium cannabinum. On its banks such interesting near-water birds as Dipper and Grey Wagtail build their nests. The Mediterranean water shrew, registered in the Red book of Ukraine, also lives here.

The steep slopes and rock tops of "Sokolyne Berdo" (in local dialect the word "berdo" means a rock or a large stone) are well visible from here, our route is directed there.

4. 1200 m. Beginning of the serpentine path. 400 m above sea level.

The route leads us to the beginning of the serpentine path, which conducts directly to Sokolyne Berdo. Nearby there is a place for rest, where one can muster his strength before the long ascent. A twisting path conducts higher and higher along the slope covered with old beech wood. This reserved tract is famous because of its unique flora which includes many rare species. Such plants as orchids present the particular variety. If you are attentive, in summer you can observe various Orchis sp., Dactiloriza sp., Epipactis sp., Cephalamtera longifolia and very rare Cephalamtera rubra along the route. In spring, besides the typical pink form of a rare plant Erytronium dens-canis the visitor has an opportunity to see its unique white flower  form. One peculiarity more of the Kuziy woods is ivy, some specimens of which come to considerable dimensions and climb the stems of trees up to 20 meters and more.

5. 1800 m. Upper gallery, 530 m above sea level. The track leads to the second gallery, the length of which is 375 m. The larger sizes cause better inhabitation of the cave. Besides the already mentioned bats, it is constantly visited by other animals. Frequently it is possible to meet here the fox, marten, forest polecat, some species of amphibian. In particular, salamanders always hibernate in the gallery and even spawn in the small brook flowing at its bottom. During the whole year one can observe in the underground current their larvae, which differ from the adults only by their dimensions and the presence of external gills. The invertebrate  fauna of the gallery is also rich and interesting. Among them there are real cavern species. Large, black spiders with bright red stains especially impress. Near you can see their laying in the form of white balls, which hang down from the vault on a thin cobweb. 

It is extremely dangerous to enter into the gallery! The timbering in many places is completely rotten and landslides are very frequent inside.

6. 1940 m. "Sokolyne Berdo", 560 m above sea level. We are near the bottom of a huge rocky wall. It is the "Sokolyne Berdo" tract, famous because of its large population of yew, which has kept safe on the limestone rocks under the tent of sycamore and beech woods. If you look up at this product of nature, it will take your breath away. On the small ledges of this wall single birches, spiraeas and other bushes and trees grow. Below, some meters away from the steep rock, there is an endemic vegetative association - Fagetaabietum sesleriosum. Next to the rocky wall there are some interesting limestone layers, which by their form remind huge fingers or broken trunks of gigantic beeches.

On the opposite slope we see a panorama of primitive beech woods, which pass into mixed and then into primeval fir woods. Their characteristic inhabitants are blackbird, middle spotted woodpecker, white-backed woodpecker and grey-headed woodpecker, hawfinch, stock dove, dormouse, bank vole and a lot of others. Rare animals registered in The Red Book of Ukraine are the bear, wild cat, ermine, eagle owl, Carpathian newt, etc.

7. 2050 m. The end of the route, 700 m above sea level. The track leads us to a small open area with the equipped place for rest. It is the end of the route. All around steep rocks and single gigantic beeches up to 50 m in height and 0,8 m across diameter tower up. Near to the platform there are populations of endemic plants Sesleria heufleriana and Iris pseudocyperus. Directly on the rocks small specimens of oak Quercus petraea, Betula verrucosa, Spirea media, different species of ferns, anophytes and lichens grow. Frequently on these open sunny places it is possible to observe rare species of insects. Among the butterflies are Parnassius mnemosyne, Papilio machaon and Iphiclides podalirius, among other species are beetles Osmoderma eremita, Lucanus cervus, Rosalia alpina, etc. All of them are heat-loving species closely connected with deciduous forests.

From this place the panorama of Kuziy depression with its oak, beech, mixed and fir primitive woods opens in its unique beauty. On the opposite slope of the gorge a large rocky tract is seen, it is “Dovhe Berdo” (“Long Rock”) tract, placed at the altitude of 900 m. The vegetation of yew is also confined within this place, nevertheless it is far less and numbers some tens of specimens of this rare relict plant.

After a short rest we can come back. Though it will be the same route, on our way back new impressions, unexpected meetings and finds will possibly expect us.