Travel to Karagiye depression in Mangyshlak area
Karagiye is a depression on the territory of Kazakhstan with a depth of 132 m. According to this indicator, it is the deepest dry depression in the country and the fifth in the world. The Karagiye depression is located on the Mangyshlak peninsula, not far from the eastern coast of the Caspian Sea, 50 km from the regional center of Aktau.
The name Karagiye comes from the Turkic word "karakiya". Often this natural landmark is called the Karakiya depression, using the original version. According to one version, the word "karakiya" means "black slope", according to the other - "black mouth". Locals call the depression Batyr, which translates as “warrior”. At the bottom of the hollow there is another Batyr - a relict lake, today it is almost dry. You can't get to it - the surroundings of the lake are impassable.
Karagiye looks very impressive. This natural landmark is a deep bowl, bordered by steep, steep slopes and stretching 85 km in length and 25 km in width. The valley of the depression is dotted with ravines, gullies, hollows, gorges, and snow-white mountains rise around. The bottom of the basin is covered with salt marshes. In the center of the basin there are many picturesque outliers that form the Valley of Figures. In general, the surroundings of the depression will remind those who visited Sinai the famous biblical landscapes near the Dead Sea.
The depression began to form thousands of years ago, when the waves of the Caspian Sea were still splashing over it. To this day, the remains of ancient fossils can be found here. For many years, hidden processes took place deep underground, leading to the formation of a majestic natural monument.
Groundwater, seeping through cracks through limestone, gypsum and dolomite layers, eroded pliable rocks, which led to the expansion of cracks and the appearance of cavities in them. Every year they became larger and deeper, forming grottoes and caves, and once, unable to withstand the weight of the upper layers, a collapse occurred. This has been happening over the millennia: the voids grew and grew deeper. The result of this continuous monotonous work of nature is the current Karagiye depression.
It is noteworthy that the process of relief formation on the territory of the basin has not yet been completed. The depression continues to grow and change, deepening and acquiring new contours.
You should be very careful when walking in the giant basin. Some crevices are fraught with danger - you can fail. Therefore, for safety, it is better to take a guide with you.
Karagiye-Karakol nature reserve
Karagiye is not only a popular tourist destination in Kazakhstan, but also a protected natural area. The territory of the depression is part of the Karagie-Karakol State Nature Reserve, which also includes Lake Karakol, inhabited by flamingos and serving as a haven for many other birds. The reserve was organized in 1986, its territory is 180 thousand hectares.
The landscape of the depression seems lifeless. But this is the deceitfulness of the desert, which upon closer examination turns out to be inhabited by numerous representatives of the fauna and even flora, many of which are rare species. Among the rocky cliffs and ledges you can find wild cats - caracal and manul, looking out for their prey. The steppe fox, the corsac, feels at ease here. Steep-horned mouflons survey the area from high hills. The hollow is inhabited by hares; There are many reptiles (snakes, monitor lizards) and insects (scorpions, scolopendra).
The sky over the deepest point of Kazakhstan is controlled by hawks and vultures. The black-necked wheatear, the redstart and the two-colored lark have also chosen to live in the desert zone of Karakia.
Facts and legends about Karagiye depression
The Mangyshlak Peninsula, where the depression is located, is one of the driest regions in Kazakhstan. It rarely rains here. It is all the more surprising that this place is a natural generator of rain clouds. In the hot summer months, the heated air, rising from the bottom of the basin into the upper atmosphere, condenses, forming extended rain clouds. This fact is scientifically confirmed by observations of meteorologists and satellite images.
The Karagiye Depression is one of the most paranormal zones in Kazakhstan. It is said that UFOs visit it regularly. Allegedly, they were seen by many tourists staying overnight in its vicinity. That it is a figment of imagination or reality, you can check for yourself. The paranormal does not end there. The depression causes inexplicable fear in some travelers, while others, on the contrary, experience an incredible surge of strength and energy.
According to old residents, the ancient area hides many treasures. Some lucky ones did manage to find them. In ancient times, the Great Silk Road passed by these places. The numerous necropolises discovered by scientists also hide secrets.
The deepest basin of Kazakhstan has not been spared by human activity. Today, a network of roads (not paved) has been laid along the bottom of the depression. The valley is home to camel farms, and the natural landscape is complemented by oil rigs. In addition, in the semi-desert area of Karagiye, you can see plowed fields with tomatoes and watermelons.
In the 30s of the XX century, there was a project for flooding the depression and installing a hydroelectric power station on it. Fortunately for posterity, it remained on paper.
How to get to the Karagiye depression
The Karagiye depression is located 50 km from the city of Aktau. You can get here only by car, and even then it is not easy. The road from the regional center passes through the village of Mangyshlak (Mangistau) in the direction of Zhetybai and Zhanaozen. Having passed Mangistau, you need to take the first exit at the roundabout. After 29 km, there will be a turn to the depression. The descent to the bottom of the basin is rocky and rather steep.
Automobile route from Aktau to Karagiye depression
Aktau can be reached by train from Aktobe, Astana, Almaty and Beineu. There are flights to Aktau international airport not only from the cities of Kazakhstan (Alma-Ata, Astana, Atyrau, Aktobe, Uralsk, Kokshetau, Shymkent), but from other countries - Moscow, Krasnodar, Mineralnye Vody, Astrakhan, Makhachkala, Istanbul, Tbilisi. Some flights are seasonal. Check the schedule on the airport's official website.