October 19, 2018
The Tuzbair Chalk Cliffs of Mangystau extend for twenty-four kilometers as they face the Great Salt Basin.
Nature sculpts and gouges an infinite variety of chalk-limestone cliffs and crevices, carvings and statuary that gleam with intensity and grandeur.
The salt in the basin crackles beneath my feet.
October 20, 2018
I am standing on the rim that overlooks the ancient seabed and salt basin of the Paratethys Sea.
Even this rim on the edge of the plateau was likely covered by antediluvian waters.
Thirty-five million years ago Paratethys extended as far west as the modern Atlantic Ocean. The seas covered the land masses east through the areas of the Mediterranean and the Black Seas, across the Caspian Sea and west to the Aral Sea. Eventually Paratethys flowed into the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.
October 18, 2018
In the Mangystau Region, 25% larger than France, the desert appears desolate and empty.
But life abounds.
An oasis appears. Lovely flowers and plants grow alongside a salty stream. Too salty for fish.
A Yurt Camp provides warm, comfortable bedding and hearty meals.
October 17, 2018
My driver Vladimir must have a GPS embedded in his skull.
We drive across the desert floor.
No road signs.
No markers assist us along the multitude of dirt tracks that veer off in all directions.
Yet we find our way through the mountains and to Vladimir’s “secret locations.”
Southeast of Aktau
October 16, 2018
What a day! What a beginning for my journey in Mangystau!
My driver Vladimir picks me up at my hotel and off we go, out of town. We detour for a bit of shopping at the “last stop” before the desert.
Always the desert!
But what a desert!