Kungur, Russia – Following on from my last post on the journey there, I left you all at the HOTEL СТАЛАГМИТИ. Coming around the blockish hotel complex, I saw the grand entrance to the tourist territory proper (left).
I farted about the cash desk and cafe for a while trying to decide if I’d get a tour in English and how much food I should eat before heading a few kilometres underground.
After reassuring myself that my Russian was fine for such an adventure and that a bar of chocolate would help sweeten any bugs we might need to eat if trapped, I bought the 600 rouble Russian ticket and hung around the side of the mountain with the rest of the tourists, waiting for the gates to peel open.
The guide gave us a short intro and sent us on our way down a narrow corridor with ice crystals coating the wall. Not just a clever name. The first rooms were probably the most impressive:
After a few ice rooms of amazing natural formations, we came upon this beauty (left). An ancient russian bat cave with mood lighting? Oh yes.
We moved along through the tour at a decent pace, each ‘grotto’ demonstrating some epic geological feat. We had about 1.2 kilometres to get through, so there wasn’t time for dallying.
Caves being infamously un-photogenic, I’ll not try to embellish them too much. Probably the most memorable thing George could have made a better effort at capturing was the underground lakes. Originally discovered by this Khlebnikov gentleman (left), the water’s resemblance to a mirror was uncanny. The only animal to survive under such a reflective primordial soup is a wee shrimp-looking guy (see below).
The most striking grotto after the ice was one with a pyramid of dirt in the middle of it (below). The story went something like this: in the old days when all of this was sea, the cave would fill up with water and it needed to find a way out. Because water is a pretty forceful beast, it made this massive vertical tunnel up to the surface, creating a sinkhole up there, but also pulling dirt down with it as it receded later. I’m not a geologist and that was a poor explanation, but you get the idea. It was cool and happened over a long time.
A later grotto called ‘ the meteor grotto’, had a huge pile of scree that I’m pretty sure represented a meteor hitting the surface of the Earth above, knocking the roof down in pieces, but not penetrating all the way down. We weren’t far from Chelyabinsk where the famous meteor fell in Russia. That was probably a shocker if there was a group in the Kungur cave when the meteor hit in Chelyabinsk!
A cool tour worth seeing if you are ever in Perm and have a half day to kill, for sure. Hanging out with primordial beings hundreds of feet underground in the back and beyond of Russia…not something you do everyday.
I didn’t get to check out Kungur town much, but it didn’t seem like I was missing anything. Pretty rough place. I kept the ‘brick bent’ going and got a shot of a tower near the rail station.
I was playing with the settings on my camera as the bus was pulling out of city limits. We passed a prison with an Orthodox church next to it. On the way back I finished the last few pages of A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. I think the picture I caught through the bus window will serve as a sepia motivator to keep my nose clean when in Russia.