Now dams have been set up, most notably the mighty Kokaral Dam, the area known as the North Aral Sea has seen water levels replenished by nearly 40 feet and many species of fish have begun to flourish once again. Consequently, fishing has become increasingly popular once again. Visitors flock to the region to hike across the now arid steppe where many ships now stand aground and cities that once flourished with fishing and trade are rendered ghost towns.
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What was once a busy fishing port on the very edge of the Aral Sea is now nearly 40 miles from water. The Fishing Museum, the History Museum, the monument to the old port and a large mosaic in the town’s train station tell the story of the town’s history and how things have changed over the years.
Intrepid visitors are enchanted by the haunting expanse of dry steppe that was once covered with water. An excursion popular among outbound holiday-makers is a camping trip on the bed of the Aral Sea. Travelers set up their tents or traditional yurts under the stars, where once they would have been under the sea.
The areas around the shrunken North Aral Sea are popular with trekkers and hikers. Famed for its dramatic scenery and endless view, the journeys from old port cities such as Aralsk, to the water’s edge, are poignant ways to experience the extent of the shrinkage.
In a bid to save the North Aral sea, a sand dam was built twice, in 1992 and 1998 - both times washed away - but the benefit to the water level and quality was noted. And so, the Kokaral Dyke was completed in 2005; since then, the water level in the North Aral Sea has risen significantly and many fish species have returned.
At Zhalanash, just six miles from the shore of the North Aral Sea today, visitors come to see the ‘cemetery of the ships’, where old boats have been left to rust after the waters dried up beneath them. Surrounded for miles by arid steppe and grazing camels, they are a dramatic sight.
Explore in-depth information, experiences and highlights by navigating to specific regions using the links below on the right.
Aral Sea Itineraries
For two-and-a-half weeks in Kazakhstan, visit modern and ancient cities, local museums and sites of ancient petroglyphs, canyons and gorges, deserts and wildlife preserves. From the capital city of Almaty to the largest city of Nur-Sultan, formerly Astana, this tour is truly The Ultimate Kazakhstan Adventure!
- 18 days / 17 nights
- Price Per Person
- From $10,800
From large cities to nature reserves, mausoleums to museums, this comprehensive 18-day trip through Kazakhstan provides an excellent overview of what this diverse Central Asian country has to offer. Whether you like to stroll through a major city or hike through the mountains, this itinerary has it all!
- 17 days / 16 nights
- Price Per Person
- From $11,300
Kazakhstan’s expansive country is sparsely dotted with main cities that lie thousands of miles away from one another. One of the best ways to traverse the terrain, glimpse its rural landscapes, and meet its local people is by train, which connects all cities and smaller places. Longer routes feature high-quality trains that have a restaurant and bar wagon attached. They offer standard 2-4 berth cabins, as well as upper level business class and grand cabins with ensuite toilet and shower. Sheets, pillows and blankets are provided for overnight journeys.
Aral Hotel is the only hotel in Aralsk, (also known as just ‘Arul’), a small Kazakhstan city located in the south-west of the country. Being the city’s sole hotel, guests shouldn’t come expecting five-star luxury. However, what Aral Hotel lacks in style and sophistication, it does make up for in charm, with friendly staff, and enough facilities to make for a comfortable night’s stay. Rooms have large, comfy beds and come with room heating controls and private bathrooms. The hotel is located near the main Aral airport and is a short drive away from the picturesque North Aral Sea in Kazakhstan.
Renaissance Aktau Hotel
The stunning five-star Renaissance Aktau Hotel offers wonderful Caspian Sea views as well as a range of modern and stylish rooms in the middle of Aktau, a large and popular western-Kazakhstan city. On top of its sumptuous sea views, which can be enjoyed from the comfort of guests’ own spacious and well-appointed rooms, this hotel also has an indoor and outdoor pool (with some more of those excellent sea views), a gym, spa facilities and various dining options. Each room comes with flat-screen televisions, coffee/tea making facilities, stylish en-suite bathrooms and air conditioning. Guests opting to dine in the hotel can enjoy a range of cuisines in the Renaissance’s popular on-site restaurant, including Mediterranean, Asian and Western dishes – as well as a buffet breakfast every morning. There is also the Silk Bar and Chai Lounge for some evening drinks and the outdoor area serves freshly-prepared cuts of meat throughout the day.
Kazakhstan Goes Well With
With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.
With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, in the continent that our north American founders Catherine and Jay have adored and explored for decades, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.
An Asia-focused magazine brought to you by Remote Lands - a platform for adventure, luxury, and authenticity from experts and explorers around the continent.
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Hidden in the yawning expanse of Central Asia that makes up the Stans are some treasures that should be on every intrepid traveler’s map. These seemingly uncharted lands are full of truly mind-blowing ancient and natural wonders.
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