Cover photo © Credits to iStock/serikbaib
Cover photo © Credits to iStock/serikbaib

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A mysterious singing dune of Kazakhstan

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When it comes to miracles, Kazakhstan is the place. It has many of them, but the singing barchan (dune) is a real secret of the 21st century. In Kazakh, it is also known as Akkum-Kalkan, which literally means the same - the singing dune. The dune is located in the National Park Altyn-Emel, near the Ili Riverand it is about 150-meter long. Be among the rare ones who had a chance to discover a mysterious singing dune of Kazakhstan. 

Akkum-Kalkan, the singing dune, National Park Altyn-Emel
Akkum-Kalkan, the singing dune, National Park Altyn-Emel
Office 305A, Bogenbai Batyr Street 132, Almaty 050000, Kazakhstan

What’s so special about this barchan? 

When the wind starts, or if something touches the sand, it starts to fall, and the barchan begins its song. ‘The song’ lasts several minutes and can be heard up to a few kilometers away. Some people compare this sound to the one of howl, scream or airplane, but most of them agree that it sounds like an organ. There are around 10 ‘singing’ dunes in the world, and one of the most unique is located in the desert of Kazakhstan. The uniqueness of this barchan is not only in the fact that it “sings”, but it’s was formed in the area of stone mountains.

Old legends say...

Locals know a lot of legends about the dune. Some of the most popular are:

1. A buried city - They say that the sounds are the bells of a buried city. Nobody knows though which of which city.

2. Fantastic animals - It is believed that some fantastic animals, placed under the sand, make the sound when the sand falls.

3. The most popular is the legend of the devil. In Kazakh, and many other Asian cultures, the devil is also known as Shaitan (or Seitan). So, the legend says that many years ago, the Shaitan was going home that's located on the top of the hill nearby the Ili River, but he was so tired to make it and fell asleep in the foothills. Shaitan was sleeping so deep that he turned into a lonely dune. Those who are trying to disturb his eternal sleep can hear his tired moan. 

Picture © Credits to iStock/ Nikolay Sivenkov
Picture © Credits to iStock/ Nikolay Sivenkov

The scientific explanation

Scientists have the explanation that some sand is very dry, and when it starts slowly to fall, there’s a large effect on the friction coefficient.

Some people also believe that if you are unable to climb the barchan, you must be a sinner, and if you can climb it - your dream will come true. Try it by yourself while visiting the mysterious singing dune of Kazakhstan.

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The author

Heewon Jang

Heewon Jang

My name is Heewon. My interests are travelling, photography and literature. I know how to do things right but I'll always do like i want to :).

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