I have often wondered where this place Karakalpakstan is located in the world since it came to my awareness about the state of the aral sea,curiousity level on my side.An autonomous region in north western Uzbekistan and part of the ancient khorazm.You don’t need a separate visa to travel here since it’s still part of the country.It was once a thriving agricultural and fishing industry bordering both kazakhstan and turkmenistan.Due to the drainage of the Aral sea during the Soviet times,to irrigate cotton plantations,the area is now mostly comprised of the desert and part of what was left of the sea.A lot of travellers must have skipped this region as they might think nothing interests them but definitely there is.We took a flight from tashkent which is the easier and faster way to reach the capital Nukus.
Nukus is usually the starting point in travelling around the region.Nowadays,Karakalpakstan is drawing in more people with its intriguing antiquity.The shrunken aral sea became an attraction for travellers with its sad and interesting facts.We took a cab to the town of Muynak.It was once a bustling port at the peninsula of the Aral sea and now it almost looked like a ghost town surrounded by wetlands and desert with only a fraction of residents left.
Several rusted ships are becoming overgrown by desert plants and eroded away by wind and dust.Eery but worth a visit.
The landscape at the bottom of the sea is also interesting.Sea shells,salt and dried up seaweeds are everywhere.You can even climb the abandoned ships and take photos.Just imagine how it was once a thriving body of water during the Soviet times until it was totally depleted mainly for the cotton farms which is the white gold of the country.Will there be a chance to bring it back to how it was?We never know.There are projects and advocacies being done for the restoration of the once fourth largest lake in the world.
Our cab driver has arrived after lunch then we headed back to nukus to spend the night.
We arrived at the hotel and went to find some place for dinner at one of the city’s suburb suggested by the taxi driver.
The highlight of the fresh looking capital is the Savitsky museum which holds the 2nd largest collection of avant-garde artworks in the world.(No photos inside).It’s really very impressive and you should not miss this opportunity when you get there.A lot of fabulous artifacts from jewelries to clothings to avant-garde pieces by Central Asian and Russian artists that were banned under Stalin’s rule during the Soviet Union is on display.It was only a year after Igor Savitsky’s death (the one who made it all possible),that the remarkability of these collections was acknowledged.In 1991,when Uzbekistan became independent,visitors were already allowed to visit.
After haggling prices with cab drivers,we left for Bhukara for a 9-hour long drive.On the way,along the vast kyzylkum desert,there are remnants of mud-walled fortresses built between the 4rth century B.C and 7nth century A.D to protect the area from nomadic raids.We only visited Toprak Qala.There are more fortified towns around the area like the Ayaz qala and lesser known fortresses of the ancient khorezm but we didn’t have enough time to explore all,it’s getting late and we have to continue our journey.It was all very interesting and educational in general.
Don’t miss out these places when you’re already in uzbekistan.For travel enthusiasts,it is definitely worth a visit.
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