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Karynzharyk

The Karynzharyk depression is a breathtaking natural wonder located within the extensive Ustyurt State Nature Reserve in the Mangistau region. Its stunning landscapes and geological marvels have transformed it into one of the most sought-after tourist destinations. To truly appreciate the enchanting mysteries of the Karynzharyk Valley, it is essential to witness its beauty firsthand. However, before embarking on this journey, it is helpful to acquire some fundamental information about the valley.

The Karynzharyk depression is located in the southeastern part of the Mangistau region, within the Ustyurt Reserve. It is situated 24.4 km east of the village of Akkudyk in the Karakiya district and 72.2 km east of the Basgurly depression. Karynzharyk extends for 85 kilometers from west to east. It is bordered by Muzbel ridge to the east and the desert of the same name to the west. Mount Karamaya, which rises 210 meters above sea level, can be found 17 kilometers north of the valley. Geologists believe that this mountain was formed approximately 70 million years ago as a result of a powerful volcanic eruption.

In the depression, located south of the plateau and to the west, lies the largest salt lake in the region called Kendirli. The Onere Spring, originating from the remaining Onere Mountains, flows into this lake. Among these remaining mountains, five of them are particularly notable. The height of the three adjacent mountains is approximately 116 meters, and they are commonly referred to as the “Three Brothers” by the locals.

The Karynzharyk depression, much like the Ustyurt region itself, serves as a habitat for numerous animal species listed in the Red Book. The area is inhabited by various birds, including flamingos, storks, crows, vultures, saker falcons, eagles, owls, steppe eagles, vultures, peregrine falcons, jackdaws, and black vultures. Additionally, you may encounter mammals such as caracals, goitered gazelles, sand cats, Pallas’s cats, and honey badgers.

The Karynzharyk depression and the nearby settlements are situated approximately 350-370 kilometers away from the city of Aktau. Of these, 150 kilometers lie between Aktau and Zhanaozen, with an additional 140 kilometers to reach the Karynzharyk depression itself. The remaining distance consists of an ascending road from the valley to the hilltop. To ensure a safe journey on such a long and unpaved road, it is advisable to travel with a guided tour led by experienced professionals.

Photo by Farhat Kabdykhairov

The climate of Ustyurt is harsh throughout the year. Summers are extremely dry and hot, while winters are characterized by storms and strong winds. The summer air temperature exceeds +30 degrees Celsius, while in winter it drops to -10 degrees Celsius. Therefore, the best time to visit Karynzharyk is early spring and autumn. It is even more delightful when it rains. Kendirli, the largest salt lake, transforms into a beautiful puddle when covered with a thin layer of water. In the heat, the surface of the salt crust cracks and forms patterns of various shapes. The stunning landscapes of the Karynzharyk valley never fail to please the eye with their beauty.