Forty kilometres west of the Aktau-Buzachinskiy Nature Reserve, on the Tub-Karagan Peninsula’s north coast, is the rubble strewn landscape of Cape Zhigylgan. Meaning ‘Collapsed Land’ in Kazakh, the area was created by an enormous landslide caused by erosion of the sand and clay layered beneath the dense limestone bedrock.

Wide shot of Cape Zhigylgan showing steep cliffs and a giant bowl strewn with boulders.
© Profile Arxitektor
Valley floor of Cape Zhigylgan with hundreds of boulders
© Alexandr Malyshev

The slide zone itself is 2–3 km wide and extends over 4 km north before terminating on the Caspian shore. Backed by a steep and crumbling cliff line dozens of metres high, the area is dotted with
hundreds of rocks and boulders. Some blocks have 10 to 15-million-year-old fossilised
 footprints of hipparions –which are three-toed prehistoric horses– and sabre-toothed tigers.

If you like boulder hopping, there are a couple of footpaths weaving right through the slump zone. There are also dirt tracks leading down to the sea, which is 2.5 km away, on the eastern and western edge of the cliff line. Stretching 10–15 km on either side the cape –between Cape Bagardzhik and Cape Ashchymuryn– are a half dozen more ancient coves to explore.

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Satellite view of Tub-Karagan Peninsula's north coast
Map Data: Google, © 2021 CNES / Airbus, Maxar Technologies


  • Zhigylgan Cape (RUS—Мыс Жигылган, KAZ— Мысық Жылғанған): 60751235528106, 50.83521590809081 (eastern edge descent) and 44.59155547420468, 50.788193578365544 (western edge descent)
  • Bagardzhik Cape (RUS—Мыс Багарджик): 44.633716390014314, 50.598017728906754
  • Ashchymuryn Cape (RUS—Мыс Ащымурын, KAZ—Мүйіс Ашымұрын): 44.55557918014101, 51.001104367732815