Rafting on the river Sakmara, Southern Ural
Duration – 10 days
The tour begins in the town Sibai (Bashkiriya), where it is possible to visit the huge copper deposit (a large quarry near the town) and the 20 m waterfall “Gadelsha” with three “steps”.
Starting from Sibai, we travel 80 kms to the village Yuldybaevo and from there to the bank of the River Sakmara where our rafting begins. On the river banks there are some very picturesque rocks which are equal in their beauty to the rocks of the rivers Vishera and Chusovaya.
Several kilometres downstream the first cascade of rapids on the river begins. Here in the river-channel there are reefs - many of which are imperceptible and dangerous for rafting, so it is very important for us to be particularly attentive. After rafting 12km from the cascade, the most difficult rapid on the river – Yaman-Tash ("the Bad stone" in Bashkir language) begins, continuing for 1.5 km. It consists of four “steps” and the greatest difficulties we face are traversing the first and third of these.
Behind the Yaman-Tash the river flows in a deep, almost impassable gorge for 400 metres. Following the gorge we raft along a long straight stretch of the river with deep water – the left banks being covered with wild cherries.
Further downstream we reach the start of some stony fords, with uncomplicated rapids, which stretch to the mouth of the river Krepostnoi Zilair (“Fortress - Zilair”) - named after the rock near the mouth, which looks like a fortress. Among the fords there are stony pools, stretching from 500 m to 1. 5 km. The shallow section of the river is here. Below the mouth of the river Krepostnoi Zilair the Sakmara looks like a typical mountain river with many rapids and fords. On both banks there are fascinating rocks with amazing shapes, and there are many convenient places for resting and fishing.
In the river different species of fish are found - perch, ruff, small fry, pike, chub, ide (from the carp family), bream and sheat-fish.
Several kilometres downstream is the mouth of the river Barakal (the large tributary of the Sakmara). Below it the Sakmara flows in a deep, almost impassable, gorge for a kilometre. In the central part we will see the rapids “Barakal” and their small waterfall.
Below the village Jantyshevo, the river flows through a canyon amongst very scenic rocks – we will have an opportunity to climb some of these and be able to see the endless steppes of the Zilair plateau, through which the Sakmara cuts.
Behind the mouth of the Urman-Zilair (another tributary), the Sakmara becomes wider and full flowing, with lengthy pools and fords. Then the character of the banks begins to change with the landscape taking a more Central Asian appearance – rocky sloping banks lined with poplars, before the river flows through a natural steppe zone and the mountains now looking like hills in the distance.
We finish our tour at the railway station “Kuvandyk”, from where we depart for home.
Optimal time for the tour: April – September (May - July is more preferable).