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Muynak is a very small town in Karakalpakstan


about the city

Muynak is a very small town in Karakalpakstan, a sovereign republic within Uzbekistan. Its population is only thirteen thousand people. There are no architectural monuments in Muynak. There are no comfortable hotels, restaurants, alleys, parks or ceremonial squares. It seems that tourists in Uzbekistan have absolutely nothing to do in this city. Getting here, you might think that the driver is lost in the endless desert, since from horizon to horizon there is nothing but sand and sparse vegetation. The casual traveler is unaware that Muynak is a tragedy and grief of thousands of people, a place where the work of human hands turned into a disaster.

Muynak received the status of a city in the sixties of the last century; before that it had the status of a fishing village. Now it’s hard to believe, but several decades ago Muynak was washed by the Aral Sea. Now the sea has retreated more than a hundred kilometers, the port is abandoned as unnecessary and only the skeletons of ships rusting under the unforgiving desert sun remind of the past. Real ships in the middle of the desert, adjacent to thorns and rare saxaul, when in place of the sea there was only sand mixed with sand. These ships are popular with tourists from all over the world, and skilled people take wonderful photographs using the local landscape.

Everyone knows what tragedy occurred in the Aral Basin. As a result of the rivers shallowing, water stopped flowing into the sea, and the sea, in turn, began to retreat from the shore. River water was increasingly used for agricultural needs and the rivers were lost in the sand. At that time, the country’s leadership had the opportunity to prevent an environmental disaster, but due to their shortsightedness, the situation only worsened. Thus, an entire sea, an oasis in the desert, was lost.

As a fishing town, Muynak existed until the eighties of the 20th century, then fishing fell into decline and only a cannery remained, which existed for some time. More than sixty thousand people were left without jobs and livelihoods. People were forced to disperse throughout Uzbekistan in search of a better life and the city became empty. An abandoned city without inhabitants with ships that will no longer float.

Now tourists in Muynak can visit the Aral Sea Museum. In addition to the history of the city and the chronicle of the environmental disaster, in the museum you can admire the Aral Sea in paintings by Uzbek, Karakalpak and other artists. Museum workers will demonstrate the gradual transformation of the sea into a lifeless desert; the archives contain films of the past, which can be shown to all curious people.

Tourists who love trips to “wild places” are recommended to visit the Aralkum desert, not far from Muynak. Aralkum is considered the youngest desert in the world; it began to form only in the second half of the 20th century. Aralkum, which translates as “Sand of the Aral Sea,” is sometimes called Akkum, which means “White Sand.” The salt of the dry sea gives the soil whiteness. In the 21st century, Aralkum has become a venue for open-air concerts and contemporary music festivals, which attracts tourists from all over the world. It is noteworthy that when the sea receded, the ruins of an ancient settlement dating back to the early Middle Ages were found in the new desert. This means that the Aral Sea had already retreated for a long time and a city arose in its place. Such a find gives us hope that the Aral will return again.

It is incorrect to believe that the Aral Sea has completely disappeared. It retreated, became shallow, but is still alive. Now tourists visiting Uzbekistan have a great chance to set up camp on the very coast of the Aral Basin. The road promises to be long, but very interesting, and the traveler will be rewarded with the sound of the surf, sea air and wonderful sunsets. In addition, fishermen and ichthyologists come to the sea, since many species of fish have maintained their populations, as well as a variety of birds that nest off the coast. Many of the surviving species are listed in the Red Book and can only be seen here.

The surroundings of Muynak and the Aral Sea are favorite places for filming wildlife and photographs in the “post-apocalypse” genre. A ship graveyard, an abandoned port and a “dead city” – a fishing village abandoned by its inhabitants – are perfect for this.

Without exaggerating at all, it should be understood that there is a high probability that we have witnessed the death of the Aral Sea. And our descendants will no longer be able to see what the sea is in the desert. Those who want to take a last look at the amazing nature of the Aral Basin should contact travel specialists. It’s better to see for yourself, so say the employees of the famous travel company AZIMTRAVEL. Let it be a long journey, and planning a trip on your own is out of the question. Trained AZIMTRAVEL staff will organize a tour of Uzbekistan for a group of tourists, or plan a vacation for a single traveler. Comfortable stay and individual approach from dedicated masters of their craft.