Karynzharyk Depression

Karynzharyk is an 85 km long and 15 km wide depression in the Ustyurt Nature Reserve. The nearest village is Ak-Kuduk, which is situated 25 km to the east, on the edge of the Karynzharyk Sands. Most of the depression is 40–50 m below sea level. The east side, known as the Western Chink Ustyurt, reaches heights of 200–340 m above sea level. Flanking its most northerly extent are the 15 km long Karaman Mountains, and its 219 m Mount Karamaya high point.

The southernmost end of Karynzharyk is marked by the depression’s most recognisable feature: five freestanding peaks rising out of the salt flats. The trio sitting furthest out rise up to 116 m above sea level and are nicknamed the Three Brothers. In rare moments of precipitation the basin fills with rainwater, turning Karynzharyk’s arid terrain into a surreal, sea-like vista as seen in this Mangystau aerial video.

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Satellite image of the Karynzharyk Depression.
Map Data: Google, © 2021 Landsat / Copernicus


  • Southernmost part of Karynzharyk Depression (RUS— Впадина Карынжарык): 42.59429513323431, 54.25889121989957
  • Northernmost part of Karynzharyk Depression: 43.158677956349294, 54.833345912384345
  • Ak-Kuduk settlement (RUS—Аккудук, KAZ—Аққұдық): 42.97134185340618, 54.09695463380601
  • Karynzharyk Sands (RUS—Пески Карынжарык): 42.91572471368598, 54.21127129766259
  • Karaman Mountains (RUS—Хребет Караман): 43.17250947113137, 54.731731310729884
  • Three Brothers (RUS— Три брата) 116 m high point: 42.654184648981804, 54.25561552221741