Sandcastles Gone Wild

Posted by on March 25, 2013



Yurt camp at the Topraq Qala.

Deep in the sands of Uzbekistan lies the Elliq Qala, or “50 Castles.”


Kyzyl Qala at lunchtime.

This “Golden Ring of Ancient Khorezm” is, rightly, one of the most widely touted tourist destinations in all of Central Asia.

Hilltop Qala

Little Ayaz Qala, as seen from the walls of Big Ayaz far above.

Though 20 ruins have been unearthed to date, this Land of Fortresses is an easy place to get lost in that Indiana Jones mindest while searching from the roadside for others still undiscovered.


A local shepherd brings his flocks in past Big and Little Ayaz Qala.

Populated mainly by ethnic Karakalpaks on the road between the towns of Urgench and Nukus, one of these ancient castles was even the sight of the Arslar Sadosi 2012 festival.


Qilpik, a former Zoroastrian ‘Tower of Silence’ where dead were deposited and left to the vultures.

Some of these sites are a walk from the main highway, and could easily be seen via hitchhiking or several days on a good bike.


Artist at work during Arslar Sadosi 2012 festival (at Toprak Qala).

For the rest, though, you’re either going to have to rent a car for a day or spend several hopping between sites with short rides.

Either way, the area is amazing.

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