Sarmishsay, or the Sarmish Gorge, is a beautifully scenic canyon in Uzbekistan not far from the city of Nurata. Sarmishsay is famous in Central Asia for both its incredible natural beauty and ruggedness and for ancient petroglyphs from the Bronze Age found in the area. The petroglyphs are more than 3000 years old and are found on many rock surfaces in Sarmishsay. Some are single petroglyphs and some are scenes with people, hunting, and animals such as bulls, mountain goats, and boars, some of which are now extinct. The canyon is not well-suited for settlement, but it is thought that ancient peoples may have used Sarmishsay for rituals, and the area is covered with more than 4000 petroglyphs. In addition to petroglyphs, the area has ancient quarries, mines, burial mounds, and pagan altars. There is also a cave in Sarmishsay with multiple underground rooms and tunnels that were used by ancient people. The cave system may have functioned as a naturally insulated building, being cool on hot days and retaining heat on cold nights.
An excellent way to tour Sarmishsay is to stay in the camel farms north of Nurata. One can travel to Sarmishsay by a ride on the two-humped Bactrian camel, the traditional mode of transportation in ancient Uzbekistan, still used in areas today. Travelers enjoy a tour through the Kyzyl Kum desert area and views of the impressive petroglyphs at Sarmishsay. Kyzyl Kum means 'red sand,' and the sand dunes and oases stretch across the borders of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. You can also stay in traditional desert dwellings of Central Asia called yurts, rount tent-like structures that are colorfully decorated with traditional textiles, where you can enjoy fresh kumis, a traditional Uzbekistan drink made from horse milk.