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The Aral Sea

Jeep tour around the Aral Sea - Trip from Almaty to the Aral Sea

The Aral Sea (Aral; kaz. Aral tenizi) is a closed salt lake in Central Asia on the border of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Since the 1960s, sea levels have been falling rapidly. Reason: water intake is used to irrigate the floodplains of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers that feed it. In 1989, the sea was divided into two separate reservoirs: the Northern (small) and the Southern (Large) The Aral Sea. In 2014, the eastern part of the Southern (Big) The Aral Sea has completely dried up. Before the shallowing, the Aral Sea was the fourth largest in the world.

How to get there

The Aral Sea is located in the Kyzylorda region on the border of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The nearest city to the sea is the city of Aralsk. GPS coordinates: 45°N 60°E


The level of the Aral Sea has changed before. In the places where its bottom was opened, the remains of trees that once grew there were found. In the middle of the Cenozoic era (21 million years ago), the Aral Sea was connected to the Caspian Sea (the Paratetis Sea). In the late XVI-early XVII centuries, as a result of falling sea level, the islands of Barsakelmes, Kaskakulan, Kozzhetpes, Uyali, High Mountain, Renaissance Island were formed.

In 1848, the schooner "Konstantin" was built in Orenburg. By the summer of the same year, the schooner was delivered to the fortification at the mouth of the Syr Darya (Raimskoe). In 1849, the first scientific expedition to study the Aral Sea was organized under the leadership of A. N. Butakov. A preliminary reconnaissance of the Aral Sea was carried out. We measured the depth, fully explored the island of Barsakelmes, discovered a new group of islands (Vozrozhdenie Island). Astronomical and meteorological observations were made. In winter, the history of ice occurrence is studied, samples of minerals are collected. In 1850, the hydrographic Department of the Maritime Ministry compiled a sea map of the Aral Sea.

Shallowing of the Aral Sea

In 1989, the Aral Sea was divided into two reservoirs: the Northern (small) and the Southern (Large) The Aral Sea. By 2003, the surface area of the Aral Sea had decreased by 1%, and the volume by 10%. During the period from 1950 to 2000, the absolute depth decreased by 22 meters, reaching 31 meters. Fishing has been preserved only in the Small Aral Sea, and in the Big Aral Sea, due to the high salt content in the water, fish have practically disappeared. In 2001, Renaissance Island became a peninsula. As of 2003, the Southern Aral Lake is divided into western and eastern parts.

Kerderi Mausoleum on the Aral Sea

The mausoleum of Kerderi dates from about the XI—XIV centuries. It lay at a depth of 20 m . The remains of the 14th century Aral-Asar parking lot have been discovered.

The Aral Sea in the Kyzylorda region


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