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Rafting on the river Ai, Southern Ural

The tour begins with an excursion to the natural-historical complex Porogi, which is situated on the river Big Satka. It is a very picturesque land - like Lake Geneva in miniature. In 1911 when V.Lenin had been dreaming about electric lamps - in the remotest depths of the Uralian provinces the streets of Porogi were brightly lit and ferroalloys were melted on local electric stoves. In 1993 the committee of UNESCO on Preservation of Monuments of History and Culture gave the status of monument of international significance for natural-historical to the complex Porogi a factory dating back to the beginning of the 20th century. On the river Big Satka we raft to its junction with the river Ai.
  
The river Ai flows between high, forest covered, abrupt mountains, and sometimes -vertical walls. Its banks are decorated with whimsical calcareous rocks as towers, fortifications, and columns. On the slopes of the mountains there are ideal viewing areas from which the panoramic landscapes of the valley of the Ai River, rocks and cliffs are opened up before us. The rivers current is swift and frequently there are stony fords, underwater and surface boulders, and numerous cascades. We will pass through the Stone gate, where the river narrows sharply and the speed of the current increases.
On the trip we visit the caves Kurgazak, the grotto of Fishermen (ancient burial ground) and examine the rock paintings Pisanitsa (from Palaeolithic times). The entire valley of the river Ai is a monument of history and nature. In the vicinity of the cave there is a thermal spring, formed together with the cave in the Devonian times.
One of the most beautiful places on the river is the stone-wall Big Pritesy, with a height of up to 80 metres and extending more than a kilometre.

At the end of our tour we will stop in the unique Sikiyaz-Tamak cave town. The cave complex is situated on the right bank of the river Ai on the mountain slopes. This amazing complex includes 43 caves differing in size and shape - among them are caves, grottoes, cliff awnings, karst arcs and bridges, and many other types. The biggest being:  grotto Tanchevalnyi (Dancing grotto), caves Caminnaya, Vestibule and Scvoznaya (Through passage). The caves were discovered in August 1995, by a group of archaeologists (S.Baranov and V.Yurin). The united archaeological expedition, which had started to work on this historic site, had 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 investigations cultural layers, which belong to different historical epochs were found. These were the upper Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Neolithic and the bronze epoch of the early Iron Age and the Middle Ages. They found labour tools, household goods, weapon and jewellery, pieces of ceramics and many thousands of bones from different animals, including the so-called mammoth. In the distant grotto of Sisoevs cave the scientists discovered an underground sanctuary with the remnants of cave bears and a place where ancient men from the Urals worshiped unknown gods. We can see all these discoveries and watch the archaeologists at work and if you wish, you can take part in the excavations.

Our rafting comes to an end near the village Lakly, where it is possible to visit the cave Laklynskaya.  Among the caves, situated in the territory of Bashkiriya, the cave Laklynskaya is one of the largest (height of the main hall is approximately 20 m and a width of 50 m) with a length of about 320 metres. Its entrance is situated 40 metres above the river Lakly a tributary of the river Ai. When the temperature outside is +30 OC, in the cave it will be about 0 OC. Even at the caves entrance the ice doesn't usually melt. It is famous for its unique calcite formations in the form of a bowl or an ornamental ball. The slopes of the mountain, where the cave is situated, are covered with wild cherries.

Time for tour: May-September (optimal time: July-August).
Duration - 7 days

Program of tour:
1 day

Arrival in the city Ekaterinburg.  Transfer to a hotel.
Accommodation in a hotel.
Excursion program in the historical centre of the city.
Lunch. Free time. Dinner
2 day
Breakfast in a hotel
Transfer to the bank of the river Ai (Chelyabinsk region).
On the way you will get familiar with historical, architectural, natural sights of the Ural Mountains.
Lunch
Preparation of catamarans
Accommodation in the double tents.
3-5 days
Rafting along river Ai. Visit of caves.
6 day
Breakfast
Transfer to the city Ekaterinburg
Lunch in the way. Accommodation in a hotel
Farewell dinner.
7 day
Breakfast in a hotel.
Transfer to the airport Koltsovo or railway station.
Departure of tourists.

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: «Softmajor», 2003 .