desolate desert outposts, forbidden artWORKS and disappearing waters
Nukus – Moynaq – Aral Sea
DAY 1 - Nukus
Our tour guide will meet you either at Nukus International Airport or at Nukus Central Railway Station (exact meeting time will be communicated well in advance per email in accordance to your flight/train schedule).
Introductory briefing about the region, the route and the set of rules to observe while travelling in Karakalpakstan.
During the day we'll tour Nukus’, a quintessentially Soviet urban construct lost in the arid steppes of Southern Karakalpakstan.
Highlights of the day will include the über-authentic central bazaar, the oddly comforting Soviet mass-housing architecture, the surprisingly rich Savitsky Collection of Renegade Soviet Art and little nostalgic gems of Soviet modernism scattered around downtown.
Lunch, dinner and overnight in Nukus.
DAY 2 - Ustyurt Plateau
From Nukus we’ll head north towards the rather desolate Soviet city of Kungrad, once a thriving staging spot along the Karakalpak branch of the Silk Road.
After a short visit to Kungrad’s central bazaar, we’ll drive further north to reach the otherworldly salt fields of Baras-Kermes.
From Baras-Kermes we’ll then move east to visit the Sudochie Lake, an almost intact natural reserve within the vast Amu Darya delta and a key location for the preservation and maintenance of the biodiversity of the region.
Near the lake we’ll visit traditional fishing hamlets and stop at the deserted village of Urga.
Leaving Urga, we’ll eventually enter the mighty Ustyurt Plateau, an endless transboundary clay desert shared by Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
First stop on the plateau will be the extremely remote Soviet town of Kubla-Ustyurt (formerly Komsomol), which even boasts an arguably photogenic abandoned airfield.
From Kubla we’ll then descent to the current shores of the legendary Aral Sea: formerly the fourth largest lake in the world, the Aral Sea has been shrinking since the 1960s after the rivers that fed it were diverted by Soviet irrigation projects.
The southern shoreline of the Aral Sea, our goal for the day, is now more than one hundred miles further north than it used to be and what’s been left behind is a somber windswept desert named Aral Kum (Aral sands), while former fishing towns along the original shores have now become ship graveyards.
Once we reach the shores of the we'll set up a camp and prepare for a night full of stars, hundreds of kilometres from any form of civilisation.
Dinner and overnight on the current shores of the Aral Sea.
DAY 3 - Aral Sea
Full day devoted to the Aral Sea: archeological ruins, Soviet remnants, natural wonders and magical atmospheres.
Take a moment for yourself: enjoy the absolute silence of the place, admire the resilient nature around you and reflect upon the immense natural catastrophe you are being a witness of… or just relax and chill under the gentle shoulder season sun!
The brave ones amongst us may also dare to take a bath in the Aral Sea’s extremely salty waters or venture deep into the plateau in search of local fauna.
Under good weather conditions we might also be able to visit the lost city of a Kantubek, an abandoned Soviet town built on Vozrozhdenja, Aral Sea's biggest island (now a desolate hill in the desert).
Lunch, dinner and overnight on the shores of the Aral Sea.
DAY 4 - Moynaq
We’ll say goodbye to the ever-shrinking waters of the Aral Sea and head south across surreal landscapes and remote post-Soviet hamlets to reach the one-time fishing harbour of Moynaq, an end-of-the-world outpost of Soviet civilisation located on the former shores of the now disappeared southern portion of the Aral Sea.
Moynaq sightseeing: Ship Graveyard, Aral Sea Memorial, Former Fish Factory, Aral Sands, School, Aral Sea Museum, House of Culture and a vast array of abandoned Soviet remnants.
During your time in the area you'll have the unique chance to meet with local Karakalpak artists, students, former fishermen and herders, who will share with you their memories, their dreams and the curious oddities of their endangered culture.
Dinner and overnight in Moynaq.
DAY 5 - Flight back home or transfer to further destinations
After enjoying a last Karakalpak breakfast together we'll take care of your transfer to either Nukus International Airport or Nukus Train Station for your trip back home and/or your connection to yet another exciting destination in the region such as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan or Turkmenistan.
End of the tour.
If you are fit enough you can also prolong your stay in the area and undertake either a challenging but extremely rewarding 3-day 4x4 drive along the shores of the lake or a historical tour of the ancient fortresses of Southern Karakalpakstan; please contact us to learn more about this option.
3 to 9 participants: 650 € per person
Regular monthly departures
The price includes: double/twin room accommodation (breakfast included; single supplement: 18 euros/night), tent accommodation, private transport in the region (jeep), entrance fees for the attractions listed in the itinerary, guiding and translation service.
The price does not include: international flights, meals, drinks and tips, visas if required, entrance to attractions not listed in the itinerary, insurance.
WHERE THE HECK AM I TRAVELLING TO?
BELOW YOU CAN SEE THE DIFFERENT TOUR STAGES MARKED ON A MAP OF THE REGION YOU ARE GOING TO EXPLORE WITH US
POSSIBLE TOUR COMBINATIONS FOR THIS ITINERARY INCLUDE
Turkmenistan and/or Kazakhstan