Muynak (moynak means “strake” or “shallow” in Kazakh language) is a small city in Karakalpakstan on the former shore of the drying Aral. Once a port city, today it has the status of a city-museum and is a silent reproach for all humankind, an evidence of a huge ecological catastrophe. Approximately 10,000 people live here. The winds of the desert keep carrying salt and sands with chemicals farther, so the local population continues to leave the city because of deteriorating living conditions. First of all, because cattle-raising and agriculture on saline soil is simply impossible.
How to get to Muynak
There is an airport in the city, but it does not work temporarily. You can get here only by car. Nowadays, you have to go more than 100 km from the Aral Sea to the city, since the sea area in recent years has greatly diminished. The trip will go through the newly formed solonchak desert of Aralkum - the former bottom of the sea. The city is situated 200 km away from Nukus.
All year around, there is almost no rain here. Summer heat reaches 40 degrees, but often rises far above. The heat is often accompanied by sandstorms. In winter, it is bitter cold here (sometimes down to -C40).
What to see in Muynak
The first thing that is worth visiting on arrival in the former city-port, is, of course the cemetery of ships. Once (less than 50 years ago) they used to sweep the waters of the Aral Sea. Today, the remnants of magnificent ships stand right in the middle of the desert. Naturally, the time has damaged them. Their bodies are rotted and rusted. Many are partially covered with sand. But outwardly, they still look grand.
Fans of history will also be interested in the Museum of the Aral Sea in Muynak. The museum exposition tells visitors about the tragedy of the Aral Sea. Here you can find pictures of famous marine painters who painted the Aral, samples of plants and animals that once inhabited the area, objects of everyday life of the peoples inhabiting the Aral Sea coast, and even ... canned fish.
Things to do in Muynak
It can sound strange but many tourists go here ... to fish. There is a small lake preserved at the distance of 2 km from the city, in which there is still lots of fish of different breeds.
Moreover, in Muynak there is a cinema, a cattle market and a colorful teahouse, where you can not only have tea and rest, but also try local cuisine (mostly Uzbek).
Where to stay
There are no hotels in the city. Thus accommodation will have to be sought among the private sector residents.
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