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Alien landscapes of Mangistau with one of a kind Salty Hollow of Karyn Zharyk

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2 travellers
What to Expect

Day 1: Aktau- Karagiye Depression – Zhana-Ozen town

Stop At: Ustyurt National Preserve, Kazakhstan
(Please note that Day 1 is adjusted based on the time of arrival to Aktau)

In the morning upon arrival to a sea-port city Aktau, a transfer provided to Zhana Ozen (165 km) via Karagiye hollow. Reaching 132 meters in depth, Karagiye Depression is the lowest point in Central Asia, Kazakhstan, and the former Soviet Union, full of flora and fauna despite it seemingly deserted look.

After an ascent to the eastern slope of the valley in 11 km we reach a beautiful observation deck of the Sautta natural boundary. In antiquity, a spring bubbled on a vast shelf under the rocks and nomad camps settled in this beautiful place.

In Zhana Ozen we drive to a hotel, have dinner and overnight.
Duration: 12 hours

Meals included:
• Dinner
Accommodation included: Double accommodation in 3 * hotel in Zhanaozen on Day 1 (Temirkazyk hotel or similiar)

Day 2: Zhana Ozen town – Tuesu sands – Bokty mount – Karyn-Zharyk hollow

Stop At: Ustyurt National Preserve, Kazakhstan
After breakfast at the hotel, we will drive to see Tuesu sands, solemn and beautiful. After admiring the dunes, the journey continues to Bokty mount, red from the chalk that covers it. We further drive up to the Baisara Collonade – the precipice of South Aktau in a shape of a huge horseshoe. We descend 20 km southeast on the outer side of the cliff to a broken grader road leading to the village Akkuduk where ancient settlement is still visible.

Further, the dirt road along the picturesque sand dunes overgrown with saxaul leads to the south. After another 60 km, we turn to the east, where the Three Brothers cliffs stand proud. Here, on the southern tip of the Karyn-Zharyk hollow on the bank of a salty stream is the cordon of the Ustyurt reserve.

We organize overnight stay at the highest point of the Ustyurt cliff. If we do not make noise, grazing argali are visible on the slopes of the depression.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner prepared by our Guide. Overnight in a tent camp.
Duration: 12 hours

Meals included:
• Breakfast
• Dinner
• Lunch
Accommodation included: Overnight in tents

Day 3: Salty Hollow Karyn-Zharyk – Kogusem tract – Karamay mountain

Stop At: Ustyurt National Preserve, Kazakhstan
After morning photography, our path goes north along the Ustyurt valley to the Karyn-Zharyk depression. A spectacular panorama of Karyn Zharyk, a land of salt that seemingly jumped out of a magical book, opens up to you. Once nomads lived on this land, but now there is no one, except for lonely mazaars (graves) standing on the edge of a cliff. The combinations of white and pink chalk against the blue surface of the litter transport you to an other-wordly landscape.

On our way, we pass along the gorge Kogusem, the slopes of which are painted red with ocher clays being eroded by rain for more than one millennium. As we travel in this region we can see a fanged rocky ridge of Karamay on the bottom of the salt marsh named Kenderliser. Their marine fossils are hidden among the sandstones, even petrified whale bones! We drive through the northern cordon of the reserve at the foot of Karamay and set up tents for a night under blinking stars

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner prepared by our Guide. Overnight in a tent camp.
Duration: 12 hours

Meals included:
• Breakfast
• Lunch
• Dinner
Accommodation included: Overnight in tents

Day 4: Mount Karamay – Boszhira valley – Beket Ata mosque

Stop At: Bozzhira Canyon, Yeraliyev Kazakhstan
After breakfast we will be driving to Boszhira valley, which is somewhat similar to the USA’s Monument Valley. We will make stops to various vantage points for the best views of the striking landscapes.

After lunch we will do 2 km trekking (2km one way) up to the Dreadnought Cliff from which opens an amazing view on the whole valley and especially adjacent rock with its three peaks rising from the plateau creating an image of castle like structure, this is a true Alien looking landscape reminder of the ancient ocean Tethys that used to reign here a million years ago. All the photos taken there are guaranteed to be striking!!

On the way back from the Dreadnought you will see mountains, which were given names as Yurta-tau mountain and Bastion due to its resemblance of mentioned objects.

Afterwards, our road leads us from natural wonders to wonders human. An underground mosque Beket-Ata built in the 18th century by a holy Sufi man is full of history and ancient wisdom. Some believe it was used as an observatory to track the movement of stars. Entrance is not easy to get to and requires a 1 km walk. Despite a far hard-to-reach location, Beket-Ata mosque is an important site of pilgrimage for local people.

Accommodation can be either Pilgrim house near Beket Ata mosque or tents. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner prepared by our Guide.
Duration: 12 hours

Meals included:
• Breakfast
• Lunch
• Dinner
Accommodation included: Overnight in tents

Day 5: Beket Ata mosque-Tuzbair Salt Lake- Aktau

Stop At: Sor Tuzbair, Kazakhstan
After breakfast, our journey continues in the north-west direction along the Ustyurt Cliff up to Tuzbair lake. We will be driving on salt marshes where only wild animals and reptiles survive in these deserted lands. After 60 km, our path comes close to the chalk walls of Ustyurt, where once again we witness the grandiose power of nature. The view of the dazzling white rocks is astounding. Here nature has created another miracle – a grand white arch which we will definitely climb in order to have a view on the whole Tuzbair lake from above, you will once again be amazed with the views that will open your eyes and wonder how could this lake survive in a deserted area. The lake itself reaffirms to us the existence of Tethys ocean on this place.

After lunch, comes time to explore Tuzbair lake. Seated between two white mountains covered in salt, the lake gets its name from them translating from Kazakh as “Salty Walls”. We will walk 2 km on the salty surface of the lake creating an illusion of walking on top of the water. People might not believe photos of you walking on the lake like in biblical stories, but they will be no doubt be impressed.

If there is enough energy and strength, it is possible to hike the plateau, where stands a rock surprisingly resembling the Sphinx at the pyramids of Giza.

In the afternoon we will depart to Aktau and transfer to the airport or to the hotel.

Breakfast, Lunch prepared by our Guide.
Duration: 12 hours

Meals included:
• Breakfast
• Lunch
No accommodation included on this day.
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Important Information
Departure Point
Traveler pickup is offered
We pick you up from any hotels
5 days
  • 4x Breakfast
  • 4x Dinner
  • 4x Lunch
  • Accommodation included: 4 nights
  • Air-conditioned vehicle
  • Drinking water 1,5 L per person per day
  • Double accommodation in 3 * hotel in Zhanaozen on Day 1 (Temirkazyk hotel or similiar)
  • Accommodation in a tent from Day 2 to Day 5. Besides tents we also provide sleeping bags and mats
  • Entrance tickets and permission to Ustyrt Nature Reserve
  • Meeting and transfer from and to the airport
  • Entry/Admission - Ustyurt National Preserve
  • Entry/Admission - Bozzhira Canyon
  • Entry/Admission - Sor Tuzbair
  • Meals not indicated in the program and/or not included into the tour price
  • Single accommodation supplement (25 USD)
  • Visa support and registration on the territory of Kazakhstan, if required
  • All personal and other expenses
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Additional Info
  • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
  • Not wheelchair accessible
  • Service animals allowed
  • Not recommended for travelers with back problems
  • Not recommended for pregnant travelers
  • No heart problems or other serious medical conditions
  • Travelers should have a strong physical fitness level
  • This experience requires good weather. If it’s canceled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 8 travelers
Cancellation Policy
For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience.
Reviews (1)
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Reviewed 1 week ago

I had a wonderful time during five-day tour to Mangystau which exceeded my expectation. It was very easy to organize as the tour manager Aigerima was very helpful and managed everything perfectly. Great itinerary - with stunning places and incredible views. All places were entirely...More

Date of experience: September 2019
Thank rasakubiliute5
Turan A, Manager at Turan Asia, responded to this reviewResponded 5 days ago

Dear Rasa, thank you very much for kind review! We are very pleased to acknowledge you enjoyed the tour!!! You are right, Mangistau region is indeed stunnig place, miles away from habitual civilisation. It really gives you chance to forget about ordinary life and makes...More

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