Cape Aya is the south-western extremity of the Crimean Mountains and a Republcian game reserve. Numerous endemic plants and rare animals all registered in the Red Book can be observed in this marvelous wild site of Crimea.
If you go aboard a boat from Sevastopol to Yalta, then note a mountain ridge right after Balaklava. This precipitous shore is formed of red limestone and is 1640 ft. high. In some places the cliffs are detached from the sea and thus form picturesque bays of Ayazma landmark. This is the place where Cape Aya located between Ayazma and Batiliman landmarks. The name of the cape means “the Holy Cape”.
500 plant specimens grow on Cape Aya, out of which some 30 are registered in the Red Book. Stankevich pine, a type of Turkish pine, is the most interesting endemic. This type of pine grows only in Crimea, and even here it can be observed, beside Cape Aya, only near Sudak and near Novy Svet. Stankevich pine grows on bald impregnable rocks using every groove or hollow as way of sticking to the ground. In some places the pines form a dense growths of beautifully green conifer.
Among the most precious tree species growing on Cape Aya there are Greek Strawberry Tree, Greek Juniper, Pistacia atlantica, Downy Oak. Cape Aya is a habitat of the following shrubbery: Cistus Tauricus (Mediterranean relic, the Red Book of Ukraine), Jasminum fruticans, Jerusalem thorn (Paliurus spina-christi).
Cape Aya is a reserve of rarities. Rare bat species inhabit this area – greater and smaller horseshoe bats (the Red Book of Ukraine), leopard snake four-lined snake (the Red Book of Ukraine), endemic stone marten and weasel (Berne Convention). Warm coastal waters near Cape Aya are full of nutritious mussels, rare crabs, rapanas. Here one can observe Black Sea dolphins and spiny dogfish. And if you visit Cape Aya you will probably meet native inhabitants of mountain-forest part of Crimea – Crimean mountain fox, Crimean red deer, roe, wild boar. This miraculous place created by nature is protected by the state. Automotive entrance here is prohibited.
And since 1982 the place has been the State landscape game reserve “Cape Aya”.