4-Day Tour To Ustyurt

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Would you like to walk on the bottom of the ocean? There is a place on the Earth where you can wonder for days among remains of the ancient ocean and rarely meet any other tourist.  It is fair to call this area one of the best-protected nature reserves, since its topography and the absence of any infrastructure condemn visitors to travel hundreds of kilometres by jeep, fortunately, only very few visitors can endure. This place is Ustyurt plateau, 200,000 square kilometres (77,000 square miles) of clay and stony desert  located on the territories of Kazakhstan & Uzbekistan, it's main eastern boundary is Aral Sea and on the west it borders with Mangyshlak Peninsula (eastern shore of Caspian Sea). Ustyurt Reserve was established in 1984 as a state nature reserve occupying around than 2,200 square kilometres and including the western edge of the Ustyurt Plateau with its monumentally eroded rock cathedrals. Its one of the largest geomorphological elements of Earth's surface, which is like the Great Barrier Reef is clearly visible from the space. 

Would you like to read our experience of visiting Ustyurt? Read this article in our blog!

Highlights: 

  • Discover the most mysterious and least researched destination in Kazakhstan where the Earth is naked "to the bones" 

  • Be impressed by the Ustyurt Plateau's chalk escarpments, known as "chinks" that are starkly beautiful

  • Enjoy surreal sunsets & sunrises when the white rocks are painted in crazy purple colors 

  • Make insane photos of boundless salty valleys, breathe-taking panoramas & yourself catching wild wind of shiny white clay dessert on the edge of the rock 

  • Forget about civilization and other people for 4 days - embrace real camping experience with starry skys, bonfires and freshly cooked food   

 

What you can expect: 

 

Day 1: 

Aktau city - Valley of Balls - Sherkala - Airakty-Shomanay - Tuzbair Valley

Early morning departure from Aktau city. Today we will have really active day and see a lot of mind-blowing destinations so prepare your cameras! First place to dive in is Valley of balls, place with ferromanganese nodules which are like billiard balls scattered across the plateau. These balls were formed on the bottom of the sea, and then, as more resistant to weathering, they left on the surface while other limestone and dolomites were eroded by water. After walking around mysterious balls our next place to see is Sherkala - lonely impregnable giant mountain in the kingdom of dessert, the name Sherkala translates as Lion's Castle. There are rumours that somewhere in this mountain our ancestors built a ladder to go to the top - may be you will be the one who find it? After having some time around mysterious Sherkala mountain we will head to spectacular Airakty Shomanay mountains. We will finish the long day at fantastic Tuzbair valley, place of pure beauty with only three colours - white (salt, clay), blue (sky) & brown (soil). You will fall in love with this place as we did once and every year you will feel this unbearable desire to come back.  We will spend the night in tent under the bright stars with hot tea and freshly made dinner.

Day 2:

Tuzbair Valley - Boszhira Valley

Our second day will start with magical sunrise time on Tuzbair valley (of course only if you like to get up early), we continue the day with leisurely breakfast and then drive to dramatic Boszhira valley making photo-stops on the way at the most breath-taking view points which we will have a lot. Lunch will be served somewhere on the way when you will feel ready for fresh-air meal. We will drive to Boszhira valley right before the sunset so you could have the opportunity to do really cool pics! Then we will have another camping night with yummy dinner under the starry night.  

 

Day 3:

Boszhira valley - Panoramic point Boszhira - Bokty mountain - Clay hills 

This day you will never forget! After nice breakfast you will have two options: to climb up the hill and do a walk or just relax & drive to the most epic view point you have ever saw! Just imagine infinite space of white clay dessert on hundreds kilometres around and suddenly two sharp stone formations called Boszhira Tusks. Its impossible to describe these feelings you will have standing on the edge of dangerously high precipice watching panorama from another planer. You just need to go and see it! After such active start of the day we will drive to another miracle on the west of Ustyurt plateau - Bokty Mountain. Actually locals were not so kind to this beautiful mountain - Bokty from Kazakh language translates as dung heap. But don't be tricked by local sense of humour - the view is really spectacular. After silent admiration in front of Bokty mountain we will drive for our last camping destinations, which is as usually simply fantastic - can you imagine hills where instead of grass shiny crystalls are growing right from the soil? Well, you will have plenty of time to check!

Day 4:

Clay Hills - Bokty Mountain - Seneka Sands - Zhana Ozen - Karagyie depression - Aktau city 

Last day of our adventure to the unknown planet Ustyurt will be quite relaxed. We are going back to Aktau city, on the way we will stop again near Bokty mountain, visit beautiful sand dunes near Seneka village, see real working oil-pumps near Zhana-Ozen town, drive through Karagie depression - the lowest point of all Central Asian region with -132 metres lower than ocean level. By 4-5 pm we will already be in the city so you could enjoy your well-deserved rest at your hotel room. 

What's included:

  • 4WD transport with experienced driver

  • Food & water (3 dinners, 4 lunches, 3 breakfasts)

  • Camping equipment (tents, sleeping bags, table, chairs)

4 days

Here is a crazy video from our driver: