Diverse Natural Wonder

The land between the harsh Ustyurt plateau and the legendary Mangyshlak Peninsula is so distinctive that it can only be described with one word: unique. These seemingly endless deserts are interrupted by both picturesque cliffs and gleaming chalk stone ridges as well as gloomy, rocky valleys and mysterious caves hidden in beautiful canyons and steep cliffs. This vivid scenery reaches as far as the gray and thrashing Caspian Sea.


Amazing bulbous stones cover the ground of the valleys of Mangystau. Clinging to each other like a large herd of buffalo or laying in solitude like outlandish spaceships, these natural balls are spread over the entire plateau from horizon to horizon. At an estimated age of 120-180 million years, these spherical rocks remain one of the most dazzling and mysterious phenomenon of Mangyshlak.

The size of these stones differ from just a few centimeters to four meters. Sometimes, these amazing shapes, stuck together or decayed over time, resemble the contours of mystic creatures.

Two hundred years of research have not given a clear answer about the origin of the nodules: the balls may have appeared as a result of deep sea life, or maybe they are the result of electrical phenomena on the Earth’s crust. Whatever it is, this natural anomaly has been capturing the human imagination for a very long time.

One of the many legends surrounding these stones claims that many years ago, hordes of enemies attacked the lands of Mangystau. As it was impossible to defeat the enemies, the people living in the region looked to the sky and cried for help. Soon, the unprecedented storm began and all the enemies were turned into stones by unimaginable lightning. Most travelers consider the most popular round specimen in the field to be the Torysh.  If you spend a couple of hours wandering around here, you will probably also find fossils of ancient ocean life – cephalopods, ammonites and nautilus.


Sugar palaces, frozen over the untouched canvas of snow-white flatland … Blazing ghosts of chalk dust, disturbed by hot winds… A piercing blue sky with whipped clouds caught by sharp peaks… This unique place is the fabulous Bozzhira region –home of the Ustyurt plateau. Imagine: hundreds of millions of years, this area laid at the bottom of the world ocean, Tethys. Huge mountain outliers and two pyramidal “tusky” rocks, each more than 200 meters in height, were just small islands of the ancient ocean; they were only revealed to us over hundreds of thousands of years.

The cliffs of Ustyurt formed due to the change in the sea level of ancient times. Because of tidal currents, the water created strange shapes and textured layers along the rock ledges. The famous “Table Mountain”, which actually has no official name, was pictured on the Kazakh 1000 Tenge banknote in 2006.

The Bozzhira Valley is covered with neatly carved white stones and surprisingly well-preserved marine fossils. Massive silicon, used by ancient people to make arrowheads, can be found here as well. At the top of the plateau, near its edge, visitors can see stone structures called “arans,” which allegedly were built by ancient hunters to corral wild animals.



Ustyurt Plateau and Mangyshlak peninsula are separated from each other by the picturesque Karynzharyk Valley. Karynzharyk’s deepest point lies at an absolute elevation of -75 meters and the height of its cliffs is up to 300 meters. At the bottom of the depression, there is a legendary saline dry lake called Kenderli Sor. Sor is a salt-marsh lake. In hot weather, it turns into a salty cracked land and during the rainy season, it prevents the ingress of water into the ground and keeps water pools on the surface. On such days the slopes of Karynzharyk are reflected in the valley of Kenderli Sor like a mirror. Their curving contours are entwined with sunrise clouds and honeycomb cells filled with water, and then the depression fills with a soft mystical glow. In the middle of the white salt plain, there are three mountains known as “Three Batyrs.” Almost all of the territory of this depression belongs to Ustyurt Nature Reserve, which is the habitat of Ustyurt’s wild sheep and mouflon.


Is there anything else to say about the Torysh? This is a weird sentence by itself – needs some supporting detail – why is the most popular?


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