… Eaten by salt and time, ships all in holes and rust froze in the middle of the desert and seem to expect when these lands re-fill with water and blue waves swaying, carry them towards the sunset. The sight of these metal giants every year attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world who come here to see the natural disaster that turned the bottom of the once-deep Aral Sea into a severe desert. What causes people to travel hundreds of thousands of kilometers to see sand-laden ships, ports and piers? Perhaps – it is completely cosmic, unearthly landscapes, opening from the elevation of the Ustyurt plateau. Aral does not give up. All against him: the economic activities of people, climate change, the melting of glaciers, mysterious natural cycles. But in spite of everything, he is still alive and continues to attract people from all over the world. After all, this lonely sea is worth it to visit and touch its watery surface.
Over the years, tens of thousands of tourists from different countries visited his retreating banks. All of them not only took with them to their homeland incredible impressions, but also left something of their own. One of them is the elderly German Maria Schulz, who is charging everyone around her with her energy and cheerfulness. Moved by the idea of creating a complete album reflecting the deplorable state of the Aral Sea and the lives of ordinary local residents, she made her way to the most remote and inaccessible coastal areas.
“The camera is my constant companion in all my travels,” says Maria Schultz. – Over the past twenty years I visited the most picturesque and beautiful corners of our planet, communicated with the inhabitants of dozens of countries. Of all the places where I had the good fortune to experience an indelible impression on me, it was the Aral Sea. Surreal story: an imaginary pier surrounded the real ships, which could be worse than a natural disaster caused by the carelessness of a person. Around this cemetery of ships live ordinary cheerful people, hospitably greeting any guest. The confrontation between life and death, the elements and the will of man all this reflects my pictures. The tragedy of the Aral Sea should be a lesson for the whole world and make people take care of nature.
In honor of the countries whose natives are often on this ancient sea, 11 ships, standing in the middle of a once-full-fledged desert, will be given new names. So next to the ship “Japan” here you can find the ship “Germany”, proudly and silently towering above the hot horizon-wind line. Especially majestic they look on the background of sunset, when the last rays of the sun, painted with shades of red slowly slide down their corroded bodies.
When around you a snowy salty desert, and trillions of shells scattered under your feet, you involuntarily think about the insignificance of your problems and anxieties over the inexorable passage of time and the power of nature.
Exactly in the middle of the desert cuts a rocky cliff of the majestic plateau of Ustyurt. On the plateau itself is the stupefying aroma of steppe grasses, a rich animal world and stone cemeteries of nomads with mysterious signs. And not a single person in a radius of hundreds of kilometers. No phone. Neither the Internet. And sea. A real sea, with waves, surf and a sandy beach. Salty sea, in which you can not drown, but you can just lie on the surface. The Aral tragedy does not know analogues in world history. The fourth largest lake in the world from 1960 to 2014 lost 89 percent of the water surface and 97 percent of the water volume.
The Western Aral Sea, most of which is located on the territory of Uzbekistan, is gradually stabilizing. Now the Western Aral is a small, highly saline lake with an area of 3270 square kilometers. This is four times more than the famous Dead Sea. However, the Middle Eastern comrade of the Aral Sea contains twice as much salt in the water. The depth of the Western Aral in some places may exceed 20 meters.
At Cape Aktumsyk, where the waters of the Aral Sea still exist, the limited liability companies “Tazabay Grand Service” and “Muinok tour” built tourist complexes with yurts. On the former bank of the Aral in Muynaksky district, that is, around the Museum of the ships in the open air, the company “Muinok tour” built 4 yurts and public catering facilities for tourists. Lake Sudoche in the territory of Muynaksky district is a habitat for more than 240 species of birds, including flamingos. The attention of scientists is also attracted by the history of the Aral Sea, the Ustyurt plateau.
To make trips to the Aral Sea more accessible, it is vitally important to develop tourism in this region. Aral must see everything. Steps in this direction have already been taken. Infrastructure is developing. The road Nukus-Muynak is surprisingly good. From Kungrad right now these days a water pipeline is laid, which will bring quality drinking water. Local residents reported that for the first time in many years this year, electricity was supplied to the city 24 hours a day. On February 28, 2017, the President of Uzbekistan adopted a resolution on measures for economic development of the Muynak region for the next two years. It presented a “Plan of measures to attract tourists”, consisting of 17 items. All of them seem reasonable enough: we are talking about the media advancement of Muynak, the reconstruction of the museum and the former harbor, the holding of festivals and the production of souvenirs. It is planned to build a hotel, erect yurts and purchase minibuses.
It remains to be hoped that the enchanting and simultaneously frightening landscapes of the Aral Sea will attract more and more tourists from year to year and every person on our planet will learn about his problem.