North of Golubaya Bay is a dirt road running along the edge of the plateau and coastline to Saura Canyon, which has an abandoned Soviet-era fishing village of the same name. Keep an eye out for the remains of old wheeled-cart tracks cut into the plateau’s soft limestone, which were created by centuries-old fishmongers travelling up and down the coastline between Aktau and Fort Shevchenko.

The canyon starts 2.5km inland, runs south-west towards the Caspian Sea and ends in front of the abandoned Soviet-era fishing village of Saura. Half a kilometre to the west is Karakul, an oasis-like lake in a smaller side canyon of the same name. It’s also home to a large population of marsh turtles, which are found nowhere else in south-west Kazakhstan.

Upstream of the lake is the Bronze Age Saurin fortress, however, its exact location remains elusive. According to Mangystau’s Department of Culture, which also has 360-degree videos of Saura Canyon, all that remains of the fortress is a 30-metre-long stone wall built across a tributary canyon. Excavations revealed several finds, such as flint objects, copper ore, the remains of an Iron Age skeleton, an iron knife, clay vessels, beads, and a red-coloured geometric figure painted on a rock slab.


  • Saura Necropolis (Saura Qorymy/Некрополь Саура): 44.2303, 50.8078

  • Saura Abandoned Fishing Village: 44.2245, 50.8136

  • Karakul (Qaraköl/Озеро Каракуль): 44.2317, 50.8031

  • Saura Canyon (Saura Joly/Урочище Саура): 44.2292, 50.8213


Planning a visit? Check out our debut guidebook

Other places included in our publication:

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