Astana has a lot of quirky things. It keeps the city interesting to be sure! Last weekend we visited one of these unexpected destinations – the Duman Oceanarium! Why is this so special? Because it is the most inland aquarium in the world. That’s right, over 1800 miles (about 3,000 km) from the nearest ocean. Have I mentioned before how far we are from water in Astana? Pretty darn far. Growing up surrounded by big lakes, this place feels like the desert for me. Anyway, since we had such a cold January, going to a warm, tropical-themed building sounded like a good plan for a Saturday.
The oceanarium has several themed areas, one of which is the Fish of Kazakhstan (of course!). There is also a nice collection of Amazonian fish. The best feature though is the underwater tunnel! While many aquarium’s I’ve visited have these, they usually are not that long. This one, however, is the main attraction and wraps around and under two sides of a large tank filled with sharks, rays, eels, a variety of tropical fish, and the largest sea turtles I have ever seen! Several times a day, a diver jumps into the tank with the lot and offers fishy treats to the inhabitants. Almost on command, the fish start swimming in a collective circle around the diver waiting for a tasty morsel to come their way. It was really fascinating to see! At other times of day, it looks like a woman dressed as a mermaid also takes a dip in the tank, but we were not around for that.
The oceanarium is one part of a larger entertainment center which also includes restaurants, a jungle park with animatronic dinosaurs, and a waterpark. We did not visit the other parts since each requires their own ticket, but I think we’ll be going back for the dinos at some point.
While on the pricier side for Astana (still only about $10), exploring the oceanarium was a nice way to spend a few hours out of the cold!