Karagiye Depression, Kazakhstan – 5th deepest depression in the world 3

The Karagiye Depression (not to be confused with the karaage chicken depression, which I’m stricken with if I go a fortnight without Japanese fried chicken ) is located in the Mangistau Region of western Kazakhstan, not all that far from the Caspian Sea.

Karagiye Depression, Kazakhstan

Karagiye Depression at sunset. Photo credit: Amrita Ronnachit

The Karagiye Depression

The Karagiye Depression is 40 kilometres in length, ten kilometres in width, and its deepest point is 132 metres below sea level. It’s so big, and so deep, it creates its own weather patterns, producing enormous cumulonimbus clouds during the summer months.

Karagie Depression, Kazakhstan

Photo credit: Amrita Ronnachit

At 132 metres below sea level the Karagiye Depression is the 5th deepest depression in the world. Beating it is:

  1. The Dead Sea (Jordan, West Bank, Israel) at 413m below sea level;
  2. The Afar Depression (Djibouti) at 155m below sea level;
  3. The Turfan Depression (Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China) at 154m below sea level; and,
  4. The Qattara Depression (Egypt) at 133m below sea level.
Karagie Depression, Kazakhstan

Returning to Aktau. Photo credit: Amrita Ronnachit

Technically the deepest point on Earth not covered by water is actually the Bentley Subglacial Trench in Antarctica, which gets down to 2,555 metres below sea level. But the Bentley Trench is filled with ice, and if the ice were to melt it would be covered by water, so it doesn’t count. 

Practical information and how to reach the Karagiye Depression:

The Mangistau region of Kazakhstan is a remote and rarely visited part of the world. There is no public transport to the Karagiye Depression. The best way to get there is to hire a vehicle in regional hub, Aktau.

A trip to the Karagiye Depression can be combined with a visit to Shakpak Ata, Beket Ata, the Valley of Balls and Lion’s Mountain, making a long but worthwhile full day excursion.

More on the Mangistau Region of Kazakhstan:

The underground mosque of Shakpak-Ata

The Valley of Balls, and Lion’s Mountain

Posts on Central Asia:


The Registan, Samarkand, Uzbekistan – place of sand

Kalyan Minaret, Bukhara, Uzbekistan – the magnificent Tower of Death 


Vrang, Tajikistan – apricot groves and a mysterious ziggurat

Bash Gumbaz, Tajikistan – yaks, golden marmots, and a Chinese merchant’s tomb


Sary Tash, Kyrgyzstan – tackling the Kyrgyz/Tajik border

Hiking to Song Kul, Kyrgyzstan


Chilpik, Qaraqalpaqstan – Zoroastrian Tower of the Dead

Toprak Kala & Qyzyl Kala, Qaraqalpaqstan

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