Kungrad, centrally located in Karakalpakstan, serves as a staging post for travelers heading to or coming from Western Kazakhstan via the Nukus-Aktau road across the Ustyurt Plateau. It’s also the jumping off point if you want to visit Moynaq and the former Aral Sea.
All questions and updates are welcomed in the Kungrad forum topic.
These days Kungrad, also spelled Qo‘ng‘irot or Қўнғирот (in Uzbek), Қоңырат (in Karakalpak) and Кунград (in Russian), is essentially a large village with a city-size bazaar. There’s not really anything to do other than stop through on your way to/from Moynaq, Nukus or Beyneu, but the bazaar’s selection of fruits, vegetables, and pretty much everything, is a very welcome sight if you’ve just traversed nearly 1000 km of desert from Aktau.
Cossack Old Believers in Kungrad apparently still uphold (ru) some of their traditional way of life, as they do on the other side of the border in the villages around Kyzylorda. We’d be intrigued to find out more.
The city park is nothing special but it’s worth a stroll if you haven’t seen a tree in a while.
Kungrad is the transport hub for getting to Moynaq and the (former) Aral Sea. Direct buses run to and from both Nukus (6000 sum) and Moynaq (7000 sum). Taxis cost 15-20,000 sum per person to either Moynaq or Nukus.
You can also take a train: Kungrad sits along the Beyneu-Nukus train line. Besides the train, there is no organised transport towards the border with Kazakhstan.
Standard Uzbek cuisine can be found in numerous cafes near the train station. For anything else, you are best off going to the bazaar and cooking your own meals.
Vegetarian cyclists, this is your chance to feast after surviving on onions and camel cheese for the last week!
As for now, no accommodation in Kungrad can be booked online.
If she is available, Zulfiya’s is your best bet. It’s not really a guesthouse but simply a family home with an extra room where guests can sleep on traditional Central Asian mats on the floor. There’s also space to sleep on the patio with a nice roof and wall to protect from the morning sun, and space to safely leave your bicycles or motorbikes.
Zulfiya speaks some English and perfect Russian, and we got the feeling that she really enjoys meeting and helping travelers from around the world. And, the best part, they have a sauna! Though sweating in a sauna may not sound so appealing on a 40 degree summer day, it really is the best way to get the desert sand out of your pores. Guests can sleep, use the sauna, and have breakfast for 50,000 sum per person, or those passing through can just use the shower and sauna for 10,000 sum per person. Her number is +998913877375; send her a whatsapp message before you arrive to check if she’ll be in town.
Other options in Kungrad
There is one cafe with slow WiFi just across the street from the train station parking lot; it also functions as a private hostel for 50,000 sum per person, but it has an “I want all of your tourist money” kind of vibe (better to just use their WiFi and stay somewhere else).
Other accommodation options include the small guesthouse on the far side of the train station parking lot (around 50,000 sum per person, some English spoken), or Zulfiya’s cafe and guesthouse.
A new hotel is under construction and due to be finished in August 2018 across from the train station. Tourist registration is not currently available anywhere in Kungrad, but as tourism laws are relaxed under the new government, this will hopefully be less important.