Yangykala Canyon, Turkmenistan
| Turkmenistan Travel

Yangykala Canyon; one of the most incredible and awe-inspiring sights in Turkmenistan.

Yangykala Canyon,

This Turkmenbashi Travel Guide aims to cover all you need to know about Yangykala Canyon, including visiting. Where to stay, what to see, and how to visit. 

Feel free to skip to the relevant chapter below to answer all your questions on Yangykala Canyon in Turkmenistan! 

Introduction to Yangykala Canyon
Geography of Yangykala Canyon
How to Get to Yangykala Canyon
Yangykala Canyon Bonus Insights...

Yangykala Canyon

Introduction to Yangykala Canyon

In the far northwest of Turkmenistan, deep in the Balkan province, lies this rarely-seen and little-known natural wonder of Yangykala Canyon.

It is no exaggeration to say that if this were situated in a more conventional country it would see absolute hoards of visitors and be known throughout the world. 

As it is, though, most people in Turkmenistan itself are even only vaguely aware of it. And only a small handful of local people have ever visited here. 

Want to go properly off the beaten path?

Well here is your chance!

Yangykala Canyon

Geography of Yangykala Canyon

Back in the distant past, this part of Turkmenistan was deep underwater.

In fact, sharks' teeth can be found in various desert spots across the country. 

Carving out the Yangykala Canyon

Once the continents shifted and sealed the Caspian Sea into a lake, this part of the ocean dried up and exposed the former floor to the elements.

This then proceeded to artistically carve a stunning canyon out of what was once the domain of prehistoric sea creatures.

The cliffs that separate the valley floor from the massive mesa-like area of the canyon today are stunning shades of pink and white. It looks like a demonic layer cake with jagged edges protruding from all angles. 

From the road that you take to get there, they initially seem distant and low.

But once the top of the canyon is reached, the view down is simply beyond compare with other geographical oddities, precipitous drops, and the iconic ‘Crocodile’s Mouth’.

How to Get to Yangykala Canyon

There are zero settlements anywhere particularly close to Yangykala Canyon so you will need a car (4x4 ). From Ashgabat, the journey is around 7 hours.

(There are a couple of extant sites of pilgrimage though, so other humans do roam this area too).

From Balkanabad or Turkmenbashi where the two nearest airports are located, it can be done in about 2.5 hours. 

There is no public transport here. Hitchhiking would involve a fun day spent getting nowhere near it. Not many people are going this way. 

Going with a car and guide and make the most of this stunning place.

Yangykala Canyon Bonus Information

  • The weather is a bit unpredictable. But even if there is rain and overcast skies, the views are still exceptional. 
  • It can be done as part of a day trip. We recommend starting in Balkanabad and ending in Turkmenbashi or Awaza.
  • Or you could set camp for an overnight stay if it isn’t too windy.
  • Don’t get blown over the edge. We know someone (not a tourist) this happened to. Not ideal. They did survive though, just!
  • Perhaps needless to say - there are no washing facilities. No shops. Nothing but scenery, vivid colours, and the sense of being somewhere completely otherworldly.
  • Go for the photos and the memories and make your fridge magnet/T-shirt/Bookmark when you get home! 

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