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.
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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