A day trip to the Aral Sea, a man made dark tourism spot.
Follow us on our visit to one of the worlds worst man made disasters: The drying of the Aral Sea.
During our travels through Uzbekistan we had seen numerous cotton fields. A strange fit in the desert landscape that we were in. The cotton fields are directly linked to the Aral Sea, which is now famous as a dark tourism spot.
The Aral Sea used to be the fourth biggest lake in the world. Which is located in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Until the Soviets in the 60’s started diverting the rivers flowing into the Aral Sea(for agriculture, mainly being cotton fields). Resulting in the shrinking of the Aral Sea. Less then 10% of the Aral Sea was left by the time it was 1997.
There are various tours going to the remaining parts of the Aral Sea, but all of them charge ridiculous amounts. So we decided to visit Muynak a few hours drive from Nukus. Once a fishing town on the edge of the Aral Sea now it is the home of many rusty shipwrecks.
The entry to Muynak, once a very buzzling fishing town. Now a small grim town remains. We entered Muynak and made our way along the former shore of the Aral Sea towards the former port.
From the view point we could only see desert and a bunch of shipwrecks. We spend a few hours walking around the shipwrecks imaging what this area must have been like.
Although the pictures look very cool and yeah they make up for some good Instagram pictures. The reality is rather sad, once a lake filled with fish and surrounded by wildlife. Now only a small part of it remains, destroying the local nature and economy for the locals. Truly a man made disaster. All of that for this plant:
But there is some hope, the Aral Sea is growing again due to the effort of Kazakhstan. Hopefully they can rewind a bit of the damage done. Restoring the ecosystem and bringing back the wildlife. Also the current president of Uzbekistan is planning on shifting away from the Cotton industry and focusing on tourism.
On our way back we stopped at the Mizdakhan Necropolis which dates back to 4th century BC and the ancient fortress of Gyaur-Kala dating back to the 14th century.
The Mizdakhan Necrpolis is now the only thing remaining of what once was the Mizdakhan city. Which has been destroyed by Genghis Khan in the 13th century. There are many legends surrounding Mizdakhan. Some say Adam(the one that dated Eva) has been buried here and that the world clock has been build upon his tomb.
The walls in the picture above apparently is the world clock. A brick will fall out every year, continuing until the walls are gone. Marking the end of the world. The small stone pillars in front of the picture are build by pilgrims. Who believe if they build these 7 stone pillars it will extend the lifetime of our planet.
True or not, it makes up for a fascinating story…
Gyaur-Kala was rebuild in the 14th century after the Mongols destroyed it in the 13th century. What remains today is the ruins of the rebuild. The original fortress dates back to the 4th century BC.
Our next blog will feature our visit to Turkmenistan and yet another Soviet disaster at the Darvaza gas crater. We have some catching up to do from our past months of traveling. Check the map to see where we are right now: route