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Location - Central Asia; Capital - Tashkent; Population - 32 million; Currency - Som MORE UZBEKISTAN

Over-budgeting meant I had some extra som, so splashed the cash on a private taxi from Khiva to Nukus, gateway to the Aral Sea and my border crossing to Turkmenistan - October 2018.


uzbeknote3The 10,000 Som note (just over $1) was only introduced in 2017. Before that changing money meant carrying a huge wad of notes









uzbekoldnoteThe first post-Soviet Uzbek Som, from 1992









uzbek474Nukus is the capital of the autonomous region of Karakalpakstan


uzbek476After taking this picture of a newly married couple posing in front of the Savitsky Museum, I was brought in for a group photo by the boisterous guy on the right - Nukus


uzbek478The city is centred on the large square surrounding the Savitsky Museum. The museum is home to a huge art collection, much of which otherwise would have been destroyed during Soviet times - Nukus













uzbek480 The Karakalpakstan flag flies to the left of the Uzbekistan national flag - Nukus















uzbek472The picture painted of Nukus in guide books is of a down-at-heel, semi-deserted town. I wouldn't go out of my way to visit but the centre looks fine and, apart from several new but empty shops, there was plenty of activity and a couple of very good restaurants. Perhaps it's the discovery of oil that's revitalising the region, which has been hit hard by the Aral Sea's disappearance


uzbek486A statue of Karakalpak poet Berdaq stands in front of the legislative assembly of Karakalpakstan on Independence Square, a short walk from the Savitsky Museum - Nukus


uzbek489Crossing an offshoot of the Amu Darya River on the start of a one-day tour to Moynaq, on what was the edge of the Aral Sea - Nukus















uzbek500First stop were the mausoleums, tombs and mosques of Mizdakhan, close to the Turkmenistan border at Hojeli


uzbek506Mizdakhan was settled around the 4th century BC but the necropolis continued to be added to through the 20th century, with many Russians from the Soviet-era being fenced off with metal railings


uzbek498Legend has it that Tchamun Nabi was a giant, hence the need for a 25m long tomb - Mizdakhan














uzbek510On a hill opposite Mizdakhan are the ruins of Gyaur-Kala















uzbek512The local public toilet is the common cesspit in the ground, but at least the straw surrounds are cute - Mizdakhan


uzbek516Gyaur-Kala was a fortress also built around the 4th century BC but its history is a bit vague














uzbek517The hillside tombs of Mizdakhan with the ruins of Gyaur-Kala in the foreground















uzbek358In the autumn you'll see many workers in the cotton fields on the drive from Nukus to Moynaq


uzbek520Standing on a mountain of cotton - Nukus to Moynaq


uzbek521Fooled! Keep an eye out for cardboard police cars, which have flashing lights at night. They're all over the country - Nukus to Moynaq














uzbek526Standing beneath the welcome sign to Moynaq, which used to be one of the Aral Sea's major fishing ports (notice the fish on the sign), but is now a massive 150-200km away


uzbek546The museum and rusting ships are at the end of a long road through the centre of Moynaq


uzbek540Museum photos show the receding Aral Sea. In the 1960s the Soviet Union diverted rivers feeding the lake for crop irrigation, including cotton - Moynaq














uzbek556What was the world's fourth largest lake began to shrink. This is the former sea bed, now overlooked by the Aral Sea Memorial - Moynaq














uzbek562Beached ships around Moynaq have been moved here to form part of the memorial to the destruction of the Aral Sea. The desertification of the lake, mixed with salt and industrial pollution, created a toxic dust blown through the region, causing many illnesses including cancers and infant mortality - Moynaq


uzbek566Clamber aboard the rusting ships but mind your step! - Moynaq


uzbek569Kazakhstan has dammed the north section of the lake, which has seen a rise in water level - Moynaq
















uzbek570Two/three day tours by 4-wheel drive to the Aral Sea are available, usually involving camping at the water's edge - Moynaq















uzbek571Don't understand this biscuit.. Lunch in Moynaq


ussr noteussr note2I found a Soviet 1,000 Ruble note as well as a Soviet coin in one of the Uzbekistan bazaars


uzbek572The following day I took a taxi past Mizdakhan and on to the Turkmenistan border at Hojeli















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LINKS - Central Asian tour operator but website has a wealth of information - Main resource for all things Central Asian - extremely useful - Guide to Karakalpakstan


I am not responsible for the content of external websites.


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