The “fiery fortress” at Yangikala canyon was carved out of limestone 5,5 million years ago by the disappearing Tethys sea. At one point, the Amu Darya ran its course right into the Caspian Sea, and over time, it created some magnificent landscapes on the way.
Letting your imagination work on the surrealist shapes in the shadows of the desert moonlight makes for a memorable night out in Turkmenistan.
The attraction of Yangikala canyon is the sudden appearance of weirdly-shaped rock in layers of white, green, pink and red in a desolate setting. It definitely has a wow-effect. You have never seen anything like it.
The main downside in visiting Yangikala is the road. It’s bumpy at first, and peters out into a track of loose sand near the end. It takes 4 hours to get there, and then 4 hours back, which has some tourists complaining (although I personally find the road there already of great beauty and interest).
In any case, to avoid this issue, go later in the day and camp overnight at the canyon. The canyon is most scenic mornings and evenings anyway, and when the heat dies down, you have a chance to explore without getting grilled alive in Turkmenistan’s eternal summer. Grill some meat (or vegetables, sorry) over a campfire, gaze up at the Milky Way and wake up refreshed for a final look at the scenery before heading on.
That’s how you do it.
Location and transport
If you want to go it alone on your transit visa, the coordinates are 40°27’656″N 54°42’816″E, 160 km north of Balkanabat and 160 km east of Turkmenbashi. Take a good map and don’t expect any Turkmen not working in the tourism industry to know what you’re talking about.
Of course we can bring you to Yangikala. Actually, we would love to. You just have to ask (and pay :-).