Tamshaly and Meretsay Canyons

The rugged Tamshaly and Meretsay Canyons are 15 km west of Cape Dzhigalan and 30 km east of Fort Shevchenko. Their names are used interchangeably, however, officially the 3 km-long Meretsay is a tributary canyon to the 10 km-long Tamshaly. Where the two ravines meet is a clear freshwater lake, with steps leading down from the west side of Meretsay. A few hundred metres south-west of the steps are the ancient Shiaulie and Aktam necropolises.

Satellite view of Tamshaly Canyon and Meretsay Canyon.
Map Data: Google, © 2021 CNES / Airbus, Maxar Technologies
Tamshaly Canyon lake surrounded by lush vegetation.
Tamshaly Canyon's freshwater spring. © Kaikups

From the lake, the canyon continues north for another 2 km before terminating onto a wide plateau overlooking Karagan/Kanga, which is a disused Soviet-era fishing village now home to a couple of residential buildings. Dotted around the canyon are a handful of brackish, but potable, springs that are used by herders as a watering hole for their livestock. Surrounding the area are a few small groves of nettles, raspberry, mint and mulberry trees.

According to local legend, a young woman named Meret was married to an old and sick khan. Together they lived in a nearby aul. One hot summer her husband died and the village was hit by a drought. Remembering a spot where water welled up from behind a rock, Meret set out with a group of craftsmen to carve a channel to its source and save her people from dehydration.

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  • Tamshaly Canyon (RUS—Каньон Тамшалы) starting point: 44.54845034655202, 50.67739423184802
  • Steps to Tamshaly’s freshwater lake: 44.58852168234468, 50.592342450841585
  • Meretsay Canyon (RUS—Каньон Меретсай) starting point: 44.579700070712626, 50.56947468302415
  • Fort Shevchenko (RUS—Форт-Шевченко): 44.507099032769666, 50.25266940689349
  • Shiaulie necropolis (RUS—Некрополя Шиаулие): 44.586831147079906, 50.58741275859097
  • Aktam necropolis (RUS—Некрополя Актам): 44.584522243802894, 50.58675008488972
  • Cape Bagardzhik (RUS—Мыс Багарджик): 44.63261682899545, 50.5981080442922
  • Kanga/Karagan (KAZ—Канга/Караган): 44.620256980216425, 50.58656935227333