Welcome and introduction
Karakalpakstan―at 165,700 km2 the largest region of Uzbekistan accounting for over a third of its entire land area (447,400 km2)―is mainly desert: to the northwest, it includes a large part of the Ustyurt plateau―between the Caspian Sea and the erstwhile Aral Sea; to the east is the Kyzyl-Kum desert, which reaches further into Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. The fertile part of the region is the Amu Darya river delta―formerly ancient Khorezm, which is today shared by three distinct entities: the Uzbek oblast of Khorezm, whose capital is Urgench; the Turkmen oblast of Dachaouz; and the autonomous republic of Karakalpakstan, whose capital is Nukus.
Karakalpakstan has a long and rich history with diverse cultural offerings ranging from, at one extreme, the ruins of Khorezm’s ancient (5th century BC) civilization to, at the other, the Nukus Museum, which houses the Savitsky Collection comprising the world’s second largest collection of 20th century Russian avant garde art as well as the largest folk art collection in Central Asia. Karakalpakstan is also the site of a major environmental catastrophe: the disappearing Aral Sea, formerly one of the world’s fourth largest inland lake and now reduced to barely 10% of its original size.
Karakalpakstan’s climate is extreme continental, i.e. very cold in winter and very hot in summer, so the best time to visit is either in the spring or early summer (April through June) or in the fall (September through mid-November), when temperatures range between 15-25C.
Karakalpakstan is not a conventional tourist destination, nor for the faint-hearted. But, as increasing numbers of American, Asian and European travelers prove, it offers many unique artistic, cultural, historical, and environmental attractions and perspectives.
We hope to see you soon!