The section ‘Barchan Sarykum’ is located in Kumtorkalinski district, 18 km to the northwest of Makhachkala, at the base of the northern slopes of the Narath-Tyube Ridge, on the left bank of the Shura-Ozen River.
The highest point of the barchan reaches the absolute altitude of 262 metres. The protected area and adjacent territories are represented by arid lands at the border of lowlands and front mountain ridges of Daghestan, where due to physical and geographical features there were formed a variety of habitats: a big wind-blown sand massif with trees and shrubs at its foot, the river valley with meadow vegetation and sparse stripes of floodplain tree-shrub vegetation, rocky dry mountain slopes with xerophilous shrubs, the clay hilly plain with wormwood-grassy vegetation at the foothills, fescue-feather grass steppes on plakors and gentle mountain slopes, the sandy steppe overgrown with shrubs at the foot of the barchan, shibliak thickets on slopes of the Narat-Tyube Ridge, remnants of pine forests and juniper open woodlands, stony slopes and rocky outputs. In general, it is a single landscape and biotopical complex of arid foothills of the Eastern Caucasus with very rich and unique flora and fauna. This area is a kind of the outpost of xerophilous flora and fauna of Western Asia in the North Caucasus.
Flora of Sarykum barchans with adjacent lands comprises more than 350 species of plants, including such rare and endangered species as Calligonum aphyllum, Isatis sabulosa Stev., Astragalus lehmannianus, Iris acutiloba, Colchicum laetum and others.
This section of the Reserve is also of great importance for the protection of reptiles, among them many rare and protected species (the spur-thighed tortoise, toad-headed agama, European cat snake, Levantine viper, etc.).
On Sarykum and the adjacent Narat-Tyube Ridge it is recorded 170 bird species, of them 87 breed or presumably breed, including 31 species of birds listed in the IUCN Red List, Red Data Books of Russia and Daghestan (the Imperial Eagle, Golden Eagle, Steppe eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Black Vulture, Griffon, Vulture, Levant Sparrowhawk, Lesser Kestrel, Little Bustard, Eagle Owl, etc.) The section is designated to be an Important Bird Area (IBA) of global significance as a site of breeding and migration for rare and endangered bird species.