Yangikala Canyons

Standing proud as one of Turkmenistan's most prized natural wonders, the vast Yangikala Canyons have put this rarely-visited Central Asian country on the map with their stunning flame-colored, jaw-dropping beauty, and incredibly isolated location in the east of the country. Situated 105 miles north of Balkanabat 100 miles east of Turkmenbashi, the canyons (unlike the Grand Canyon in America that draws inevitable comparisons) was in fact shaped by the Caspian Sea, which passed through here millions of years ago, rather than by a river.

Whilst the nearest major city is Balkanabat, the Yangykala Canyons can be reached from the Turkmen capital of Ashgabat (around six or seven hours away), with the preferred method of transportation over the rugged desert terrain being 4X4 vehicles. As well as taking in the impressive views created by the vibrant pink, yellow, orange and red-colored rock formations, other popular activities here include camping and hiking trips.


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4X4 off-roading

The road to the canyons, as well as the route through them can be challenging at times, so the best way to negotiate the trails is in 4X4 vehicles. These come with all the comfort of a normal car, but with all the necessary modifications to take on the rugged landscape – quite an experience when you’re sitting inside taking in the stimulating surroundings.


To come all this way to one of the most stunning parts of Turkmenistan without spending the night would be a missed opportunity, and what better way to do so than by pitching up your tent on one of the plateaus above the canyon and sleeping underneath the stars (after all, you won’t find a hotel anywhere nearby)? Watch the red sun sink low beyond the horizon and wake up to a new day as it rises in the east.


The best way to see the Yangykala Canyons in all their glory is on foot, so pack a sturdy pair of hiking boots for a hike around the rocks. Although impressive in height, most of the hiking trails here don’t involve particularly challenging climbs, so novices can participate just as much as the seasoned hikers.


Although this canyon range rises high into the sky, once you’ve reached the top plateaux you’ll realize that the surrounding terrain is incredibly flat, meaning you can see for miles. This makes for perfect photography opportunities, especially as the sun sets over the western horizon, often illuminating the already bright canyon range in brilliant shades of orange and red.

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