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Caves of the southern Ural

Duration – 10 days

Program of tour:

1 day: Arrival to Ekaterinburg. Review of excursion program. Accommodation in hotel.
2 day: Transfer to the town of Satka.
On the way: the towns of Kasli, Kyshtym, Karabash, Miass, Zlatoust. Visit to the museum of the Ilmenskij State Mineralogical Reserve (Miass).
Accommodation in the tourist center near the historical-natural complex «Porogi» (20 km from the town of Satka).
3 day: Visit to the complex «Porogi».
Visit to the Shumikhinskaya cave, situated on the left bank of the river Ai near the settlement Aiskaya gruppa («Ai’s group»). The entrance to the cave is located at the foot of 30-40 meter tall cliffs, 4 meters above the river Ai. The entrance to the cave is a 5-meter wide and 2-meter tall arch. The total extent of the cave is 1120 m. The Shumikhinskaya cave is one of the longest and deepest caves in the Chelyabinsk district. The main gallery of this cave is 850 meters long, with a height of 2-12 meters and a width of 4-6 meters. In the cave there are several large halls and grottos, among them the hall «Blockage» (20x20x20 meters), the hall «Monastery» and others. The lowest point of the cave lies 74 meters below the entrance. The Shumikhinskaya cave is a modern cave, formed in the year 1970 as a result of exploration of bauxite deposits. It was discovered in 1971.
Accommodation in a tent camp on the left bank of the river Ai, near the cave Kurgazakskaya. The Russian bath.
4 day: Visit to the gallery-cavern type cave Kurgazakskaya, situated by the mouth of the Kurgazak stream, 150 meters from the river Ai. The entrance to the cave is an ellipse-shaped arch with a width of about 15 m. The geologist G.V. Vakhrushev first described this cave in 1937. The cave contains several large grottos, among them the «Pigeon grotto» (named for the pigeons which nest inside it) close to the entrance of the cave. The cavern is 37 meters deep, 15 meters wide and 7 meters tall. From this grotto, through a steep ice passage, you can reach the gallery «Obscurity» (85 meters long, 6-8 meters wide and 2-3 meters tall), where numerous ice trees, stalactites and stalagmites spring up in a winter. Some ice stalagmites reach a height of 1-1.5 meters. This gallery also provides access to the grottos «Enthusiasts» and «Silence».
The Kurgazakskaya cave is famous for its beauty, variety and wealth of calcite sinters.
Visit to the stonewall «Big Pritesy», with a height of up to 80 metres and extending more than a kilometre along the river Ai. In the central part of these vertical stonewall, at a height of 56 meters above the river, one finds the cave-cavern «Youthful» (with a diameter of about 4 m). In winter and spring one can see giant ice stalactites with a length of up to 10-12 meters. Access to this cavern is only possible using mountaineering equipment.
General extent of the «Youthful» is 90.5 m.
Visit to the unique Sikiyaz-Tamak cave complex. This cave complex is situated on the right bank of the river Ai on the mountain slopes. This amazing complex includes 43 caves of different shapes and sizes - among them caves, grottos, cliff awnings, karst arcs and bridges, as well as many other types. The largest being the «Tanchevalnyi» grotto (Dancing grotto) and the «Caminnaya», «Vestibule» and «Scvoznaya» («Through passage») caves. The complex was discovered in August 1995 by two archaeologists (S. Baranov and V. Yurin). A joint archaeological expedition has started work on this historic site, and has already made a number of sensational discoveries. Signs of life of primitive man and remains of extinct animals have been found in 15 of the caves. During the archaeological excavations, cultural layers from different pre-historic periods were found, ranging from the early Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age to the early Iron Age and the Middle Ages. Tools, household items, weapons and jewellery, pottery fragments and thousands of bones from different animals, including mammoths, were found. In the innermost grotto of the Sisoev cave, the scientists discovered an underground temple, with remnants of cave bears, and a shrine where early inhabitants of the Urals worshiped unknown gods. You can see all these discoveries, watch the archaeologists at work, and even take part in the excavations if you wish.
Fishing for grayling. Accommodation in tent camp.
5 day: Transfer to the Serpiveskii Cave Complex. Situated in the valley of the river Sim, close to the village Serpievka in the Katav-Ivanovsk district, this «City of Caves» stretches for 15 km along both sides of the upper reaches of the river Sim. Almost all forms of karst topography are found here, including vertical, horizontal and labyrinth caves, arches, niches, awnings and caverns, craters, underground rivers, lakes and springs. Together they form a unique example of karst topography. In many caves, sights of primitive human habitations and remains of extinct animals have been found. A visit to the Ignatievskaya cave, where ancient rock paintings (featuring mammoths and other motives) have been found.
Accommodation in tent camp.
6 day: Transfer to the settlement of Nugush on the bank of the Nugush reservoir. Visit to the Karlamanskaya cave. The cave has two entrances, and takes the form of a large horizontal channel, formed by a tributary of the river Belaya. The walls of the cave are richly adorned with gypsum deposits. Climb to the top of mount Shikhan near the city of Sterlitamak.
Accommodation in tourist center. The Russian bath.
7 day: Excursion to the Bashkiriya National Park.
Accommodation in tourist center.
8 day: Transfer to the Muradymovskoe gorge in the valley of the river Ik.
The Muradymovskoe gorge is incredibly beautiful. The area is home to more than 40 caves of different length and complexity. Majestic rocks rise from both banks of the river Ik. These astounding rocks and canyons, the mountain river making its way through the vertical cliffs, covered with rare pines and junipers, have to be seen. The pine crowns form unusual, sometimes fantastic, shapes. Numerous juniper bushes dot the cliffs and the bottom of the gorge.
Fishing for grayling. Accommodation in tent camp.
9 day: Visit to the New and Old Muradymovskaya caves and the Pigeon grotto (18 m wide and 3 m tall).
Inside the New Muradymovskaya cave, there are no stalactites and stalagmites, except for ice ones, but it contains numerous pale white sinters. The structure of this cave is fairly simple, consisting of a string of caverns. From the entrance of the cave a narrow meandering corridor (about 100 meters in length) with a gradually sloping floor begins. Through this corridor you can access the «Devils Bridge» hole, one of the most challenging passages of the cave. Turn to the left and you enter the «Concert hall», containing a calcite stage with extraordinary acoustics. North of this hall you can walk along the gallery (length about 300 meters) and visit more grottos and halls, among them the «Topographer’s Shelter», the «Kind fairies» grotto and the grottos «Geologist’s Dream» and «Rest». Picturesque calcite falls are found along the entire extent of the gallery. In the grotto «Geologist’s Dream» there are a lot of chaotically dispersed blocks, which constitute a certain obstacle to its passage. There are also wonderful calcite sinters on the walls, kieselguhr, stalactites and stalagmites. Before ending this underground journey, you should not miss the next gallery, with its picturesque calcite falls, calcite pagodas, stalactites and stalagmites.
Fishing for grayling. The slopes of the Muradymovskoe gorge offer an abundance of mushrooms and berries in July and August. Accommodation in tent camp. The Russian bath.
10 day: Transfer by bus to Ekaterinburg.  Departure of tourists.

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