Following the Disappearing Sea

Join us on the incredible journey to the disappearing sea. You will travel through the rocky desert, walk over the bottom of the dried sea, visit mysterious medieval towns and ascend the magnificent Ustyurt Plateau. You will spend the night in Karakalpak yurts falling asleep to the songs of the desert wind, and watch the sun rising over the Aral Sea. This is a journey to the parallel world that you never knew existed.

The sites you are going to visit have been inaccessible to public for a long time. That is why the areas surrounding the Ustyurt Plateau have always been shrouded in myth and mystery. Now you have a real chance to see these amazing sites with your own eyes.

 

Highlights of the Tour

  • Visit the Aral Sea that have disappeared from the face of the Earth.
  • See the vast desert of the dried sea bottom covered by the fractured salt crust.
  • Enjoy the breathtaking view of multi-colored canyons between the Ustyurt and Aral Sea.
  • Ascend the Ustyurt Plateau and drive through the vast rocky desert in off-road vehicle.
  • Taste delicious Karakalpak cuisine.
  • Spend an amazing night under the starry sky and see a sunrise you will never forget.

 

PROMOTION: If you book a tour until Mar 1, 2020, the price will be lower than shown below. Contact us for more details.
Brief information
  • Tour duration: 2 days, 1 night
  • Total distance: 900 km.
  • Transportation: off-road 4WD vehicle (Toyota Land Cruiser / Toyota Prado) with an experienced driver.
  • Time to the Yurt camp at the Aral Sear: 8 hours
  • What to bring: Safe and protective hiking or sport shoes, trousers, long sleeve shirts, a hat/cap, warm jacket, sunblock, sunglasses, repellents. Warm clothes needed for the autumn and spring seasons.
  • Meals: 4 times during the trip. Meals can be coordinated according to the wishes of the guests, including vegetarian or halal dishes. Alcoholic beverages and cigarettes are not included. Travelers can purchase beverages and cigarettes before the tour or during the stops.
  • Important note: Please be ready for any road circumstances that might occur due to the weather conditions and etc.

This route was designed and been updated taking into account the recommendations of local scientists/tour guides and some tourists, however, we are always ready to make some changes to the tour program according to the wishes of our guests.

*The route order may change according to climate conditions.

Day 1

 

Your day will start with a hearty breakfast at the hotel. During the tour, you will have a chance to see the eastern part of the city of Nukus, the famous Amu-Darya River, and Khodjeili, one of the ancient cities on the Silk Road.

 

Mizdakhan and Gyaur-Kala are two famous ancient archeological sites located in close proximity to each other. Mizdakhan is mentioned in many legends. It is a spiritual site revered by pilgrims. In Gyaur-Kala, you will see an amazing labyrinth of the ancient inner city and a great view of the Mizdakhan necropolis.

 

On the way to Kungrad, one of the five ancient cities of the region, you will observe the authentic life of the people of Northern Karakalpakstan. In Kungrad, we will stop at a shop to buy soft drinks, travel accessories or toiletries.

 

The famous port city Muinak, where you will visit the ship graveyard where the abandoned ships seem to be frozen in time. You will walk down the high slope to the ships and listen to the story of a disappearing sea while standing at the very sight of the Aral Sea tragedy.

 

Lunch at Aunt Bali's, the hospitable resident of Muinak that will prepare for you her wonderful traditional homecooked meals. After lunch, you will visit the Muinak Museum of History and Ecology of the Aral Sea.

 

You will ascend the Ustyurt Plateau. Leaving behind the modern roads of Muinak, you will journey to the Ustyurt Plateau through the desert that used to be the bottom of the Aral Sea. The table-like plateau with carved walls can be seen from afar. You will ascend the Ustyurt in the off-road vehicles, and your unbelievable journey will begin.

 

You can relax in a cozy yurt camp on the Aral Sea Shore. The camp is located on a platform between the Ustyurt and the Aral Sea. You will take a walk to the sea, have an outdoor dinner enjoying the view of the sea, and spend the night in comfortable Karakalpak yurts.

Day 2

 

Sunrise over the Aral Sea. Anyone who has seen the sunrise over the edge of the Aral Sea will never forget it. The memories of the crimson sun, the blue sky and the cool breeze will stay with you forever. After watching the sunrise, you will have a hearty outdoor breakfast and prepare for the return trip.

 

Our tour will also take you to the ancient Kurgancha-Kala site (Davletgirey). You will hike to the ruins of the huge market that was built in this deserted area to facilitate the trade between the population of the Khorezm Kingdom and nomads.

 

Kubla-Ustyurt is a remote settlement with an airstrip. You will find out why people still live here in the middle of the desert where the nearest settlement is a hundred miles away. You will have a chance to visit the house of the camel herder and try camel milk.

 

Urga, an abandoned fishing village, looks like a scene from a post-apocalyptic movie. You will see the ruins of the Russian city once inhabited by the exiled Cossacks and their descendants, visit a Russian Orthodox cemetery on a hill, decrepit factory, salt-covered lakeshore, wooden fishing boats and vast areas overgrown with bulrush. We will make a quick stop at the fishing outpost. Sudochie Lake with its bulrush-covered islets is home to a variety of birds, so it is often visited by ornithologists and photographers from all over the world.

 

A busy road running along with the patches of desert, green fields, and lakes will take us back to Nukus. Lunch will be served at the roadside café in Kungrad, and then we will continue our way back to the modern life of Nukus.

Notes for the Aral Sea Visitor

  • The areas between Kungrad and Muinak are so remote that mobile communications, the Internet or power are not available.
  • Mobile devices, cameras, and camcorders may be recharged at the yurt camp.
  • If you want to watch the rare birds of Sudochie Lake, bring along binoculars, spyglasses or other optical equipment.
  • Bring flip-flops or crocs so you could walk over the soft sandy shore to the Aral Sea. (Bring swimming gear if you wish to take a swim).
  • It is cold at the seashore in the mornings and evenings. Bring a sweater or a jacket.
  • The Ustyurt Plateau and the Aral Sea area are very windy. You will need a headgear with chinstraps. If you wear glasses, use eyewear retainers.
  • Apply sunscreen to ensure protection from bright sun and wind. Bring chapsticks and wet wipes.
  • If you have any chronic illnesses, don’t forget your medication.
  • The yurt camp offers all the amenities necessary for a comfortable stay. The area around the camp has abundant wildlife. Don't leave your footwear outside the tent at night as it may attract foxes.
  • Wear comfortable closed-toe shoes without heels and cotton clothes, preferably pants and shirts with long sleeves that will protect you from the sun.
  • Always carry water with you.
  • Stay close to your guide and your vehicle.
  • Stay at least 2 meters away from the edge of the Ustyurt Plateau.
  • The Ustyurt Plateau and the Aral Sea are natural wonders that must be kept clean. Please place all garbage in the bag provided by the driver of your vehicle.

Special Requirements

You’ll have 4 wholesome and healthy meals. If you have any special dietary restrictions, please let us know in advance and so we can accommodate your requirements.

We carefully developed the route and timed the tour, but if you want to visit specific sites or change the time allotted for each stop, we can adjust the itinerary to suit your needs.

Tour Map
Number of tourists Price per person The price includes
1 $555
  • Transportation
  • Accommodations at the yurt camp
  • Meals as specified in the tour program

The price does not include the following:

  • Guide services fees ($100)
  • The fee to visit Mizdakhan (3,000 soms per person) and Museum in Muinak (10,000 soms per person)
  • Additional food, alcoholic beverages
  • Tips to the driver and guide
2 $305
3 $221
4 $180