We arranged through the hotel a car driver to take us to Moynaq, the town that used to be a huge fishing port on the Aral Sea. It took us about 2.5-3 hours to drive from Nukus [Nukus-travel-guide-1200956] to Moynaq, this cost $90 for the driver for the day. He was very experienced driver and did not rush us at anytime, the trip also included a side trip to the Mizdakhan, an ancient city of Mausoleums and mosques, but we didn’t feel like we could manage it as Angela was still recovering from her back injury and had already done a great deal of walking in Moynaq. It is quite hilly too and would be better done in the morning.
When we arrived in Moynaq we went to the Museum, which is a must do and great place to get a real idea of how much impact the shrinking of the Aral Sea has had on the people of the town and the surrounding geography of the land. We had a young woman show us round and there is no official entrance fee for the museum, but we paid 5000 for each of us as she was very informative and answered questions about the history of the area. It was a very poignant moment. Especially for me to realise that such a huge catastrophe has happened within my life time and the massive impact it has had on the people.
Our driver then took us down to the edge of the desert which was the edge of the Aral Sea; you really need to see the pictures and photos of before the shrinking to understand how much it has gone! We saw two largish ships from the road, but there is a proper memorial point where there are steps down to a collection of about 9-10 boats. We eagerly made our way down to them, mindful of the fact it was midday-ish and was going to get hotter and hotter. I have to say the excitement of seeing these boats stranded in so much sand overcame my sense of heat and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring all of the boats and taking many photos (a photographer’s dream location). Equally I was mindful of where I was and how sad I also felt at the same time. Actually gutted was closer. Dust/sand tornadoes danced around areas of the now desert and from the view point back at the top of the steps we could see other boats in the distance, looking like toys in a sandy sea.
After this sobering visit we then were taken to the old cannery complex/factory. Like the old factories from oop north in the twenties, this old gated complex is also worth the visit. The huge rusting sliding gate is left slightly ajar and you can still walk round the huge complex, all of which is locked but I managed to get some great pics of inside the factory and all its abandoned machinery through some of the broken windows. It is a very eerie place, and again very sad when you realise 10,000 people lost their jobs when this factory was closed down 1984. It did have a huge impact on the local economy and although there have been efforts to create another lake nearby this is still a dying town, but I loved it.
If you can find the few extra dollars to go there do, you will not regret it; my only regret is that we did not take extra time to drive to the edge of the Aral Sea as is now, and camp. That would have made it complete and I would have felt that I was giving something back to a struggling local economy.