World·Photos

Listen to Kazakhstan's singing sand dune that sounds like an organ

Rising incongruously above the steppes of southeastern Kazakhstan is a structure as famed for the myths that surround it as for the sound it produces — a single, singing dune.

The 3-kilometre-long dune is in the country's Altyn-Emel national park

A tourist stands at the edge of the singing sand in Altyn-Emel national park in Kazakhstan's Almaty region. (Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters)

Rising incongruously above the steppes of southeastern Kazakhstan is a structure as famed for the myths that surround it as for the sound it produces — a single, singing dune.

(Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters)
(Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters)

Organ or engine?

The dune is 150 metres high by three kilometre in length. In dry weather, it makes low-pitched sounds, almost like an organ rumble or the hum of an airplane engine.

The dune's sounds can be heard from several kilometres away. Listen what it sounds like when this group slides down the dune.

 

The music can be heard as a sand avalanche is triggered by the wind or even by people shearing sand away with their hands and feet.

Climb every mountain

The dune is located at Altyn-Emel national park in Kazakhstan's Almaty region. It's about 150 kilometres from Almaty, the country's largest city. In Canada, there are two notable singing sands beaches: one in Basin Head, P.E.I., the other at Bruce Peninsula National Park, near Tobermory, Ont.

But the singing sands aren't the only thing to see there. There are plenty of mountain ranges.

(Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters)
(Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters)
(Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters)

Wild wildlife

The warm summer weather doesn't bother the park's wildlife. There are more than 50 animal species that live in Altyn-Emel, including birds, snow leopards, fish and lizards, like the steppe agama seen below.

(Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters)
(Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters)
(Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters)

Four times the size of Hong Kong

There's also plenty of room for exploration ... the park is about four times the size of Hong Kong. There are canyons, hiking trails and lots of places to pitch a tent. 

(Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters)
(Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters)
(Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters)

With files from CBC TV's The Nature of Things

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