Ship remains on shore of the Aral sea, Kazakhstan.

© Andrei Bortnikau/Shutterstock

Aral Sea

Top choice in Kazakhstan

A trip to the slowly replenishing Aral Sea is the main – the only! – reason to come to Aral. Near its northern shore rise the sculpted rock formations of a magnificent canyon, in shades of ochre and yellow, reminiscent of Utah or Arizona. Four Soviet shipwrecks still lie on the seashore amidst dense growth of samphire, and the medicinal hot spring near a fishing village draws visitors from afar. Other attractions include the dam and overnighting in a fishing village.

Getting out here from Aral is an adventure, entailing a long 4WD drive through endless steppe, punctuated by herds of grazing camels, and then along the dry sea bed.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Kazakhstan attractions

1. Fishermen's Museum

13.53 MILES

Four fishing boats stand on pedestals beside Aral's former harbour, near the town centre, as a tribute to fallen heroes. The biggest of the four now forms…

2. History Museum

13.72 MILES

Aral's small history museum has a few desiccation photos, some imaginative oil paintings and around 15 jars preserving different Aral Sea fish species –…