What on earth are these giant ball-like rocks? Well, it depends on whom you ask.
Legend has it that when the Mangystau region of Kazakhstan faced countless attacks by enemies, the locals appealed to the heavens for help. Their prayers were answered, and the invaders were turned into giant stones.
You can trust the scientists and geologists to come up with more rational theories to explain this unusual sight. But after 250 years, they still have not come to an agreement.
Some researchers believe that these globular rocks are remnants of meteorites that crashed and landed on earth. Others theorise that they are giant concretions, a word derived from the Latin word “concretio”, which means thickening.
Over millions of years, sediments and minerals accumulated and formed a thick coating over a core material – probably ancient fossils like shells, fish bones or plant residues – producing these giant boulders today. The Mangystau region used to be submerged in the Tethys Sea, and geologists believe these rock formations date back 120 to 180 million years, during the Mesozoic period. This is thought to be the most likely explanation.
Today, these spherical rocks, which measure about 3m to 4m in diameter each, dot the steppe landscape of Torysh Valley in Western Kazakhstan. The mysterious yet beautiful sight draws intrigued locals and travellers alike.
At Torysh, one can also see the Shekala – a 332m-high mountain outcrop that resembles a giant yurt – from afar. It is believed that Genghis Khan’s son, Jochi, built a fortress on its summit in the 13th century.
Whether you believe the Valley of Balls is the work of nature or the supernatural, the magnificent landscape is a must-see when travelling to West Kazakhstan. Torysh is located 100km or a two-hour drive from Aktau city, the capital of Mangystau. To make your way there, book a tour package or rent a car.