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Home » Mangystau province. Nature of Mangyshlak peninsula in Western Kazakhstan.

Tamshaly lake and spring.

Mangyshlak bicycle tours.

“Nature is an infinite sphere whose center is everywhere”

Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Tours in Mangyshlak and Uzbekistan.

The whole north coast of the Mangyshlak Peninsula is fissured with canyons, both small and large. They are accessible in 4WD vehicles on the route from Fort Shevchenko to Kalamkas around the Mangystau Gulf.
About 30 kilometers east of Fort Shevchenko a bad track leads to the Meretsay and Tamshaly canyons, the letter an idyllic spot with a small oasis and lake overgrown with reeds, fed constantly by spring water from a semicircular rock hollow.
The giant rockfall at Zhyghilan, about 15 kilometers farther east towards the sea, provides not only the bizarre view of strangely eroded rocks, but a treat for palaeontologists as well: 15-20 millon years ago, primitive animals such as three-toed horses and large predatory cats left deep footprints in soft deposits that became large stone slabs.
At the edge of the neighbouring side canyon of Borly Sultan Epe lies the Sultan Epe Shrine. The Eastern end of this canyon of Shakpaktasay, in the porous walls of which the retreat underground mosque called Shakpak-Ata has been cut.
Numerous necropolises, mostly well signposted, can be seen scattered left and right of the road on the way to Kalamkas, but the canyons themselves are not indicated, so it is best to be accompanied by a knowledgeable driver.
Tamshaly Canyon is steeped in legend: once upon a time, there was rich aul ruled by an aksakal (wise man). After his death, the village went into decline; droughts hammered the land, the cattle began to perish, and it soon became clear a decision was needed.
The wise man had appointed his wife as the aul’s new chief, and she came to the conclusion that it was pointless to wait passively for rain to come, that it was better to pack up and leave the place where verey one had lived all their lives, and go in search of a new location for their village with water, even to settle by the seashore.
Thus all was packed up, and the aul set off. The villagers travelled for a long time, looking in vain for water. More cattle died, and finally the people reached the limits of their endurance. They were camping on the edge of a high, barren plain.
The aksakal’s wife stood up and told the villagers that they had to dig for water, but the exhausted tribesmen did not react, so she herself started digging with her bare hands. Northing happened and what  little strength she had faded, but the moment she collapsed, dying, drops of water suddenly sprang from the rocks, as though they were weeping.
From all sides, the water flowed down and formed a small lake, from which a small brook made its way towards the sea. The people drank, the cattle quenched their thirst, and the aul survived.
Thus the Tamshaly Canyon was formed. Climb up from the reed lake and you’ll get a view over the high, bare flatland from whence the aul is said to have come. Follow the valley, through which the brook runs on rare rainy days, and you reach the village of Kanga and from there, the sea.

Tamshaly lake and spring. Tamshaly lake and spring. Tamshaly lake and spring. Tamshaly lake and spring. Tamshaly lake and spring. Tamshaly lake and spring. Tamshaly lake and spring.

Authority:
Book “Kazakhstan Coming of Age”. Michael Fergus,Janar Jandosova.

Photos
Alexander Petrov.