Desolate Landschappen in Majestueus Mangistau

Desolate Landschappen in Majestueus Mangistau

Spectaculaire natuur nabij de Kaspische Zee

Hoogtepunten van deze 9-daagse reis naar de Aktau en Mangistau:
– genieten van de vele natuurwonderen van Mangistau
– kennismaken met de fascinerende cultuurgeschiedenis met ondergrondse moskeeën
– reizen en kamperen in onwerkelijke en lege landschappen
– flaneren langs de boulevard van de Kaspische Zee in Aktau
– milieuvriendelijke uitvoering van de tour door lokale mensen

Land & Programma

Dit is een ongewone tour in ons aanbod. Om te beginnen vindt het plaats in een desolaat deel van Kazachstan, ver weg van andere populaire streken. Start en finish zijn in de Kaspische Zeehaven Aktau, die internationale luchtverbindingen heeft met Istanboel en Londen. Tussendoor brengt u zes dagen door in de unieke landschappen van de regio Mangistau. Reizend in een 4WD met een ervaren chauffeur en een Engelssprekende gids.

De natuurlijke hoogtepunten zijn teveel om op te noemen, bekijk u het programma. Daarnaast zult u in verschillende ondergrondse moskeeën getuige zijn van de eeuwenoude cultuurgeschiedenis uit de tijd van de Zijderoute.

De aard van dit programma maakt het duurder dan de meeste andere tourprogramma’s die we aanbieden. Wel zijn alle maaltijden bij de tourprijs zijn inbegrepen.

Ten slotte bent u misschien geïnteresseerd, als u tijd heeft, om meer avontuur aan deze reis toe te voegen door met de trein van Aktau helemaal naar de stad Aralsk te reizen. Hier kunt u een tocht naar het afnemende Aralmeer maken. En naar nieuwe, hoopgevende ontwikkelingen rondom het meer.

Of ga nog verder naar de Russische ruimtestad Baikanoer. Vraag ons naar de mogelijkheden!

Let op: deze tour wordt in de zomer niet aanbevolen vanwege de hitte!

Voor een bezoek van maximaal 30 dagen aan Kazachstan is voor de meeste landen geen visum nodig.

Lees meer over de mogelijkheden en bijzonderheden van reizen in Kazachstan hier.

(programma in het Engels)

Day 1

Flight to Aktau.

Day 2

Day travel distance: 10 kms
Arrival in Aktau in the early morning. Start of your tour in Mangistau!

First you will be picked up from the airport and transferred to your hotel.
After some rest you can enjoy an optional excursion of Aktau, the only port of Kazakhstan. With a boulevard that is nice and interesting and lovely to stroll or relax.

Aktau Boulevard

Aktau Boulevard

Aktau was founded as a uranium mining settlement in 1958, but has become a popular resort and attraction for thousands of tourists. You will see the places that Aktautians are so proud of: Central Square with an eternal flame, the only lighthouse on the roof of a residential building, the monument to the Caravel of Columbus, the Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation.

But we want to show you the real life of the city of “white mountains”, as Aktau is called, and we will take you to the market. You will see a lively trade in traditional goods that you can no longer find in the big cities. Huge skeins of bright fabric and cotton bales to make comfortable floor cushions – korpe. National instruments and traditional cradles. And also – the magical herb adyraspan, which is able to drive away evil spirits and even various diseases (including coronavirus :)).

Afterwards we will also visit the gastronomic part of the market – the most interesting, where you will have the opportunity to taste the delights of nomad cuisine. And even fermented mare’s and camel’s milk.

And, of course, the museum, where you will see the most interesting exhibitions and discover the deep bond between Europeans and Kazakhs during the epoch of the Great Silk Road.

Finally we will end our day with a pleasant and relaxing walk along the coast of the Caspian Sea along the most beautiful rocky path.

Overnight at the hotel.

Day 3

Day travel distance: 195 kms in 4WD

Zhygylgan is called a geological landslide. A heavy slab with its own weight squeezed out a soft limestone bed, threw it into the sea and turned into an abyss that disturbed the imagination. We will go down to see the landslide, where the unique evidence of the past is presented.



Also here you can find fragments of plates with imprints on their surface of chains of petrified traces of saber-toothed cats and small three-toed horses. Furthermore, the road will lead us to a very picturesque lake which, at a certain angle, takes the shape of a heart. Very romantic.

We will have lunch in view of a million euros in a field and continue towards the 362 holy Mangystau.

Kenty Baba is one of the unique burial places with stairs, where the saint climbed to call for prayer. The underground mosque of Sultan Epe – the patron saint of sailors, where we will descend to perform the sacrament. By the way, some experts do not agree with the fact that underground sacred structures are called “mosques”. Scientists question the dating of the structures, assuming their more ancient origin and relationship to completely different cultures and beliefs.

Then we set off on a journey to Kapamsay chalk canyon. The eroded niches of the canyon are secluded refuges for eagle nests, the owners of which often soar over the abyss … We will enter the canyon from the mouth. In the depths another rare sight was hidden: a huge cave, in whose vault rainwater made a hole. The water that accumulates under the arch feeds a small grove of mulberry and hawthorn trees.

Today camping is in the Sartas yurts (traditional nomadic house).

Day 4

Day travel distance: 90 kms in 4WD

The first but not last stop on this day is at the saint’s tomb. These famous underground mosque and unique necropolis of Shakpak-ata are in the list of world cultural heritage sites. The mosque, as if dressed in a lace dress, is impressive. Its characteristic light windows and the presence of soot on the ceiling, scientists presumably associate with the sanctuary of fire worshippers and followers of Zoroastrianism.

Next, we will visit one of the most impressive places in Mangystau – the valley of the Torysh spheres. These stone concretions are the result of processes that took place in the depths of the ancient Tethys ocean 35 million years ago. The shell of an ancient ocean inhabitant served as a core for the stratification of layers of sand. And the sand eventually petrifies into bizarre shapes in the form of balls, mushrooms, eggs, cylinders, and dolls. And such forms are apparently invisible.

We will have lunch near the sphere valley and go further.

Mount Sherkala

Mount Sherkala covered in legends is a natural symbol of the Mangystau region. From a certain point of view, it looks like a gigantic yurt set up by mythical nomadic giants. One of the legends about Sherkala says that once valiant knights defended themselves from hordes of enemies on it. They fought like tigers. The last defenders of the mountain hid in the underground passages inside the mountain and remained there forever. This is how the name of this stronghold of heroism and independence appeared – Sherkala or the city of tigers.



In the evening and night we will spend in a very interesting place – ethno aul (ethno village), where you will have the opportunity to learn about the life of nomadic Kazakhs and spend the night in the traditional dwelling of nomads – a yurt or in the tents of our camp.

Day 5

Day travel distance: 152 kms in 4WD

The first stop is the Airakty-Shomanay system of small residual mountains. The Airakty Mountains look like fairytale castles with spiers, towers, colonnades and fortress walls. In wet spring the valley is covered with small but delicately scented Sogdian tulips. It is an incredible sight to visit the homeland of wild tulips and see the flower fields with your own eyes!

Along the sides of Mount Airakty, on chalk blocks, you can see scratched drawings (petroglyphics), called “Steppe Symphonies” by one of the researchers.

Afterwards, we will have lunch at a roadside cafe in one of the villages and go to the next mysterious place – Tuzbair salt marsh.

Tuzbair Salt Marshes

Tuzbair Salt Marshes


This is a majestic creation of natural elements. In this place, part of the Ustyurt plateau abruptly ends with a cascade of clay-limestone and chalk steps, at the base of which is a salt marsh. The plumb lines of the chalk cliffs are cut by numerous gullies and deep channels, forming endless rows of the most bizarre columns. In spring, Tuzbair fills with water, turning into a huge mirror of salt, reflecting the sky. Before heading to the lowest point of the salar, we explore the area in search of ancient fossils.

It is difficult to imagine that the arid steppe, sometimes resembling a camel’s skin with sparse islands of wormwood and camel thorns, was once the ancient Paratethys of the marine ocean. Stretching “from Paris to Altai” at the beginning of the Cenozoic era (about 34 million years ago),

Paratethys united the Black, Caspian, and Aral seas into one. The aquatic life on Paratethys was unique and included everything from molluscs and crustaceans to small whales and dolphins. But climate and geological changes have catastrophically affected the life of local fauna. Over time, the water level in the sea has significantly decreased and the salt concentration has increased. Scientists note that very few species have been able to survive such conditions.

We can judge the ancient diversity of marine life from their remains. The lucky ones with a keen eye in the vicinity of Tuzbayyr can find the teeth of an ancient shark or find fossilized ammonites – extinct cephalopods.

Night in the field.

Day 6

Day travel distance: 160 kms in 4WD

In the morning we will go to visit the most revered saint of Mangystau – Beket ata and we will take a long 2 km walk along the stairs (800 steps) to the entrance of the sanctuary, along the way enjoying the view of the valley and noticing wild argali jumping from rock to rock.

We will examine the underground mosque with a local caretaker. Interestingly, the layout of the rooms in the Beket-ata mausoleum repeats the logic of the rooms in the Cheops pyramid. Whoever was involved in the creation of these unique monuments – whether they were erected by a group of builders or, as legend says, only by the forces of the saint himself, but striking another – the depth of engineering and breadth of technical knowledge of the ancient architects who were able to build such different structures. Perfect acoustics and an excellent ventilation system could compete with modern technology in terms of efficiency.

We’ll have tea in the pilgrims’ house in a very authentic atmosphere.

Boszhyra and Kyzylkup Valleys

And we will go to the most fantastic place – the Boszhyra and Kyzylkup valleys. Boszhyra is part of the slope of the Ustyurt plateau, where mother nature gave complete freedom to her imagination, creating an unearthly landscape in white tones.

Boszhyra Valley

Boszhyra Valley

Everything here is white: canyons, mountain peaks, towers, castles, yurts. The remaining mountains of Boszhyra, like chameleons, change their appearance as they walk around. It would seem that only stones live well here. And the only owner of this area – a lonely wind, guards their peace.

We will set up a camp in a very picturesque place, from where you can see the colorful mountains of Kyzylkup or Tiramisu, where the absolutely white, cracked earth with a fantastic diamond-shaped pattern will give us a cozy evening warmth. Not a soul around. Just a huge starry sky.

Kyzylkup Valley

Kyzylkup Mountains

Night in the camp.

Day 7

Day travel distance: 170 kms in 4WD

Mangystau is very often compared to Mars or the Moon. And this is not a coincidence. The landscapes are truly cosmic. You will be convinced of this when we take a walk through the Boszhyra Valley (3km trekking).

After lunch, we will walk towards the canyon where the eagles have made their nests. It is a dry riverbed that winds through limestone and clay, ending in a small gorge, the slopes of which are painted in shades of ocher with snow-white spots, washed by rains for more than a millennium.

Transfer to Kyzylkup or what accurately describes the look of these pink-brown wedge hills is the tiramisu dessert. These are blurry chalk horizons with red layers. In them you can find the remains of many millions of flora and fauna.

Kyzylkup Mountains

Kyzylkup Mountains

Night in the camp.

Day 8

Day travel distance: 270 kms in 4WD

In the morning after breakfast we will visit the incredible mountain Bokty, which from different angles changes shape beyond recognition.

And we will move to the goat farm, where the hospitable hosts will prepare a gastronomic tour of artisanal cheeses, wines and other delights of regional cuisine.

After lunch we will go towards Aktau. Along the way, we will get acquainted with the sights of the capital of the Kazakh oil industry, the city of Zhanaozen with thousands of oil pumps.

We will see the panorama of one of the deepest depressions in the world – Karagie. Minus 132 meters below sea level. The lowest point in Central Asia.

And by 6pm we will arrive at the hotel in Aktau.

Aktau Center

Aktau Center

Night in the hotel.

Day 9

Day travel distance: 20 kms

In the early morning or night – depending on your departure time – you will be transfered to Aktau Airport to catch the flight back home. Or you may head for the railway station for a long trip to Aralsk and further east….

De kosten voor deze tocht naar Aktau en de regio Mangistau bedragen bij zes personen €1.650 per persoon, bij vier personen €1.875 p.p, en bij twee personen €2.095 p.p. Voor andere groepsgroottes kunt u ons een offerte sturen.

Inbegrepen in de aanbieding zijn:
– drie overnachtingen in een 3* hotel in Aktau, inclusief ontbijt
– vijf nachten in de natuur waarvan één in een zespersoons yurt en vier in tenten
– accommodatie in een eenpersoons tent en alle kampeeruitrusting
– luchthaventransfers aan het begin en einde van de tour
– transfers per 4WD-auto met chauffeur en Engelssprekende gids
– toegangskaarten voor alle natuurparken, musea en bezienswaardigheden volgens het programma
– volpension tijdens de reis naar Mangistau (alcoholische dranken niet inbegrepen

De eenpersoonskamer toeslag voor de drie overnachtingen in Aktau bedraagt in totaal €75.

Niet inbegrepen in de aanbieding zijn de internationale vliegtickets, lunch & diner in Aktau en een excursie in Aktau (optioneel) en alle niet genoemde services.

Tenslotte houden wij €9,- per persoon in voor het Nederlandse GGTO Reisgarantiefonds.



    Aktau, Mangistau


    seizoen is april-begin juni en eind augustus-begin november


    indicatie €1.875-2.095 p.p. bij resp. vier en twee personen


    9 dagen