Introducing Aralsk (Aral)
Aralsk, 475km northwest of Kyzylorda on the same road and railway, used to be an important fishing port on the shores of the Aral Sea. A large mosaic in its train station depicts how in 1921 Aralsk’s comrades provided fish for people starving in Russia. Today a large part of the Aral Sea is gone, victim of Soviet irrigation schemes that took water from its lifelines, the Syr-Darya and Amu-Darya rivers, and pushed the shoreline 60km out from Aralsk. If you want to witness the notorious Aral Sea environmental disaster first-hand, Aralsk is easier to visit, and more interesting, than similarly defunct ports in Uzbekistan. Nor is everything quite so gloomy here: efforts to save part of the sea seem to be succeeding and a small-scale fishing industry has started up again.