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Kungur Ice Cave (Russian - кунгур пешера)
The Kungur Ice Cave is located near Kungur city almost 90 away of Perm in the Perm Krai Region (biggest city nearby), on the right bank of the Sylva River. Before planning to go to Kungur Ice Cave, if you are a foreigner and you don’t know Russian language take a guide with you or take organized excursion otherwise is quite difficult to find the cave and then to understand what the guide explain inside.
History & Archaeology
Kungur Ice Cave is known since 1703 when Peter the Great issued the decree sending a well-known geographer S.U. Remezov from Tobolsk in Kungur. He worked out the Uyezd plan and the first sketch of the Cave. The Cave as an excursion site is used since 1914 and has 3 routes open to the public with different length:
1. First tour is 1.5 km and around 1 hour and 20 min
2. Second is 1.8 km and 1 hour 40 min
3.Third one is the biggest, 2 km and around 1.5 hour. On this one there is a laser show and the route is “more difficult". In fact there is another pathway just a little bit longer, which has a 10 min laser show somewhere in the middle of the route.
A lot of tourists most of them from Russia came to have a look at this unique creation of nature every year. The total number of tourists has already exceeded couple of millions.
In the eastern part of “ IceThe Mountain “ there are two sites of ancient settlement of VII-IX centuries, relating to Lomovat ov culture. Yermakov's site of ancient settlement known since the XIX century .
Traveling through the cave – labyrinths, ice grottos, crystals, icicles, myth and stories In the explored part of the cave there are several dozens of grottoes; the largest one, which is called the Drudjb Narodov (“Friendship of Nation of the World”), was given its name in honor of the participants of the International Geological Congress who visited the cave in 1937.
Kungur Ice Cave is one of the largest gypsum caves in Russia and the largest by volume. She is laid in the thickness of karst carbonate-sulphate rocks comprising anhydrite, gypsum, gypsum anhydrite, dolomite, limestone and breccia of the same composition.The cave is a sistem of labyrinths. The length is 5,7 km, the amplitude - 32 m, the area - 65,0 thousand m2, the volume - about 206.0 thousand m3, the altitude is 119.99 m. Kungur cave' feature is the dominance of grottos. Small caves and passages are less common. Geophysical studies revealed their unknown extensions.
Inside this grotto there is a lake with the area of 750 m². The grottoes are "adorned" with columns of stalagmites and icicles of stalactites up to two meters in height. Over millennia, limestone bearing water has created an infinite variety of forms in the cave, like snowflakes which change in size during the year and reach the size of a maple leaf during late winter. The cave is filled with water from the Sylva River twice a year, in spring and in fall, when it is not accessible to tourists.
There are different cave microclimate :
- In the first zone there is constant negative temperatures with significant variations in the values (ice is preserved permanently)
- Second zone is with constant positive temperatures, the corresponding to the temperature of karst massif.
- Last one is transition zone with large temperature fluctuations (negative temperatures in winter, positive in summer positive),there is seasonal glaciations in this zone in winter.
There are over 120 kinds of different types of ice formations starting with watery (congested, segregative and ice-cement), sublimation (crystalline education) and sedimentary-metamorphic. Seasonal and perennial ice is the main attraction of the Cave.Inside the cave, in the underground lakes lives a population of crustacean-krangoniks of Khlebnikov, dedicated to a particular subspecies Maximovich.
The ice inside the cave has an exclusive variety of forms. The ceiling and walls of the first grottos are covered with a thick fringe of crystals emerged from the steam condensation in the air. Sparkling Druze's reach sizes of 10-15 cm. A magnificent decoration of the underground room doesn't disappear in summer. Following an excursion path, you can see the thickness of blue ice of many years, whose age, according to the description, is more than 300 years. The water was leaking from cracks and freezing, the ice was growing from year to year, but the passage was continuously cleaned. The ice was evaporating under the influence of the flow of air and ice walls had got some deepening's, at which bottom a white mealy powder - small crystals of gypsum was piling up.
The massive column of ice is hiding behind a wall projection in the Polar grotto, first described in 1848. This grotto has a lot of ice of many years in the Cave, that's why it had got such a name. Ice crystals, stalagmites, stalactites are growing in the winter here.
Stone chaos and icy silence of the Dante grotto remain of fantastic pictures in "Dante's Hell". A red gleam of spotlights illuminate layers. Deep crevices go dark between them, icy cascades flow through cracks. It seems that everything will come down with a roar in the next moment.The effluent from cracks water freezes in the form of long icicles-stalactites, forming a golden curtain in the Krestovyj grotto. Transparent ice streams spackle in rays of spotlights. Icy stalagmites rise above the floor. Sometimes they grows together in fancy ice columns - stalagmites.
Next grottos amaze by a complicated surface of walls and arches. By the exit of the Ruins grotto the arches are of fantastic form that they got by light-gray gypsum and anhydrite and deepings. In the Ethernal grotto we turn our attention to a scree, lifting as a cone to the arches. It was formed by rock fragments, fallen from the vertical, so-called "organ" tube in the arches. The largest tube is located on the opposite side of Grotto. Its ribbed walls reach 22 m. Large drops of water, drawing silver lines in the air, fall to the fragments of gypsum under the tube mouth and gouge cylindrical channels and deep furrows in them.More than 100 organ tube are known in the Cave. However, you cannot see daylight through them, as the pipes are developed only in the bottom of the Ice Mountain massive. There are more resistant to dissolution rocks - limestone and dolomite. The rock thickness of the highest organ pipe to the surface of the mountain is 60 m.
An impressive part of Peoples' Friendship Grotto belongs to the Big Underground lake. It is the largest in the Cave. The area is 1460 m, the width is 38 m, the depth in some places is 3 m. In addition, 12 lakes have an area of 100-900 m and the others- less than 100 m. The water revives a dead bulk of stone, whimsically mixing their shapes with a reflection in the mirror of arches. Large drops fall from the ceiling in some places, forming circles on a flat surface of lakes.
The appearance and the diversity of crystal forms of gypsum alluvium in the Cave are no less striking: bluish gray gypsum and anhydrite. You can find some crystals of transparent gypsum (the Maryino glass) in their separate pieces, but there are some places (for instance the Crystal Grotto) where walls and arches are built of it because of its surplus. You can also see thin bluish-white ribbons of selenite.Woven of long, silky threads of crystals, it is immediately transformed into rays of direct light.
Myth and stories
Inside the cave there is narrow path which is called “the women road” because long time ago a foreign princes was falling down on this road and after she got back she get married, and now they say if a lady will falls down on this road she will get married soon.
Other interesting place is the one which is called “women crying place” were you can see a beautiful lake and from above small droplets of water create ripples on the surface of the lake.
How to get there by car
From the main road (Perm-Kungur) there is only one indicator to the Ice Cave which is Russian and English but then, after you enter in the Kungur city, all indicators are in Russian OR NO INDICATOR at all to the cave so pay attention on the map !
And Russian version
Here you find some info's about routes, but take into consideration that Kungur city is on the way between Perm (one of biggest city in the area which has also airport) and Yekaterinburg City as well one of the largest city in Russia.
From Perm you can drive (60 km away from Perm), from Yekaterinburg by train or car. Better from Perm in case you want to drive and less kilometers.
You can take the train from Perm City, but if you are a foreigner and you travel alone the best way is the car .Once you get there you need to pay an entrance tax and you should wait till certain hours because only from 30 in 30 min (or depends on the day it can be from hour to hour) you can enter.
The payment is made on a ticket office in Russian “Kacca”.The tax can be from 300 rubles till 700 rubles (depend on the day , the route you choose and if is in the morning is chipper) .
Also PAY attention if you want to take pictures inside the cave you need to pay a tax which is around 100 or 200 rubles (camera film).
For the foreigners 100 rubles is around 2.5 euro (For Nov 2010 exchange rate)
Visit the ice cave on end of March, April, May when the level of the water inside the lake is very high due to the meltdown of snow, and also you can find more icicles and ice formation.
More Pictures, high rezolution and panoramic views here :