Tozhu – a distant, mysterious, and picturesque region of high mountains, taiga, and tundra. It beckons both locals and tourists, visitors, scholars, natural scientists, archaeologists and others from the whole world with its intriguing beauty. The Tuvan people have a saying: “One who has never been to Tozhu, has never been to Tuva.”
Tozhu is one of the largest kozhuuns (districts) of Tuva, but is one of the least populated. The inhabitants of Tozhu are an indigenous people who maintain their traditional way of nature-use in their fishing, hunting, forestry, woodworking, and of course, reindeer-herding. The reindeer of Tozhu are the largest of their kind in the world, and also the southernmost example of their species. Many different species of animals live alongside the reindeer, including very common animals as well as endangered species, which have been written into the Red Book of Russia. It’s not an accident that one of Tuva’s two state nature preserves is located here, the Azas preserve, which occupies a great territory filled with unique natural landscapes, lakes, and rivers. One of these lakes, Azas, is called the pearl of Tuva. It is a gorgeous lake, which blooms every July with rare white water-lilies. The lake is 20 km long and 5 km wide, with inflow and outflow that ensure the purity of the lake. It has nine islands, on the smallest of which grow endangered plant species. The ladies’-slipper orchid blooms there only once every 16 years. The lakes and rivers are rich with fish: pike, perch, whitefish, and the luckiest can catch taimen – the largest predatory fish of Siberia’s rivers, which hunts not only for fish but small rodents that fall into the river. Many of the largest rivers of Tuva are located in Tozhu.
Not everyone knows that there are 16 dormant volcanoes in Tuva, the highest of which is Shevit, more than 2700 meters in height. Tozhu is known for its springs, with a large number of mineral and thermal springs. The best known spring is called Choigan.