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Moynaq (Uzbekistan)

Practical information on Moynaq

  • Encounters with locals
  • Desert
  • Lake
3 / 5 - 2 reviews
How to get there
3 1/2 hours from Noukous in a shared taxi
When to go
Spring through fall
Minimum stay
One day

Reviews of Moynaq

Seasoned Traveller
28 written opinions

With a lunar landscape that creates an atmosphere like that of an old western film set, where hulks of rusty old boats decay in what was once the largest port on the Aral Sea, Moynaq makes a strange impression on visitors.

My suggestion:
If you want to travel on to the Aral Sea, make your arrangements at Nukus. At Moynaq, there's not a great deal to be found, and there aren't any vehicles to take you to the Aral Sea: you can arrange a guide, but you pay through the nose.
My review

The city is a ghost town, quite unlike Uzbekistan's tourist destinations, in a dry landscape where virtually nothing grows. It's impossible to find the museum. The rusty hulks of old boats are gathered below a monument that very briefly described the recent history of the Aral Sea.

For all these reasons, I don't think that the city is worth seeing unless pressing on toward the Aral Sea (which is still more than 200 km away).

On the other hand, after crossing the cotton fields of the Ferghana Valley, it is interesting to see and contemplate more clearly the consequences of this intensive monoculture.

Once I had arrived I tried, together with a Swiss traveler who had picked me up in her 4×4 while I was hitch-hiking, to find a guide who could take us on toward what remains of the Aral Sea. Two hours later, having attempted unsuccessfully to negotiate, we returned to Kungrad. Make your arrangemetns at Nukus if you want to have a chance of seeing the Aral Sea.

Timothée D. Seasoned Traveller
564 written opinions

A former port on the Aral Sea, Mo'ynoq is now a city in the middle of the desert due to the recession of the lake.

My suggestion:
A little museum located on the site of the former port, where all the boat carcasses are, recalling the magnitude of the tragedy (who would always need a reminder!).
My review

Without any hesitation Mo'ynoq could qualify to compete for the title of the most depressing town in the world. Formerly a thriving port along the Aral Sea, today the town is located more than 200 km from the sea. Accordingly, the city of Mo'ynoq looks like a ghost town now. Most residents have long since left the place, populated with elderly and young nomads, the boats rust under the blazing sun and the desert sands cover the city during the numerous storms...

Therefore, it's both a fascinating and depressing place. It's fascinating in that it tells the absurdity and the ecological, human disaster of the Aral Sea's recession. It's depressing, because only despair seems to survive today at Mo'ynoq, which in my opinion remains a must see in Uzbekistan.

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