Карламанская пещера

Karlamanska Cave - Karlamanska Pestera

Useful Information

Location: 3 km southeast of Karlaman village.
From Ufa take road to Archangelskoye and Beloretsk, after 33 km turn right at Karmaskaly, 5 km to Karlaman. Leave Karlaman along the cemetery and walk along the hills to the southeast. There is actually a single lane dirt road, but it can only be used during dry weather.
(54.288667, 56.170533)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyGypsum Caves Kungurian stage gypsum
Light: bring torch
Dimension: L=269 m, VR=6 m, Ar=1153 m², V=1970 m³, T=8 °C.
Portal: W=4.3 m, H=2.1 m.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Karlamanska Cave.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1770 cave explored by И.И.Лепёхиным (I.I. Lepyokhin).
1965 declared a Natural Monument.


Карламанская пещера (Karlamanska Cave) is named after the bearby village Karlaman. It is best reached from this town, its a 6 km walk along the southern rim of the gypsum hills. This outcrop of gypsum is heavily karstified and has numerous caves, of which the Karlamanska is the one which is easy to visit. There are also numerous springs around the hill, where the water which rains on the karst area reappears. Many springs are dry and reactivated only after snow melt or heavy rains, during dry times the drainage is underground by the underground river Sagylelga. Some depressions are dry funnels, others are filled with karst lakes, which are connected to the ground water and their level rises and falls with the level of the ground water.

The cave has a triangular entrance portal and a single main passage which forms an L shaped bend. It is quite spacious, between 2 m and 12 m wide and between 6 m and 10 m high, and 198 m long. Together with low side branches the total length is 269 m. The main passage is rather spacious and as it is a horizontal cave it is quite easy to visit. We recommend good walking shoes, helmet and headlamp. Most descriptions only mention this main passage. If you are in a passage which is low and you must crawl on all fours or even on your belly you are definitely in one of the side branches. For entering those side branches full caving gear is a must.

The cave is located at the foot of a white gypsum cliff face. While the whole hills are made of gypsum, this rock is exceptional because of the spectacular cliff faces. The local Bashkirs call it Ulu-Tau (Great Mountain). The place is quite popular and the locals hold picnics next to the cave in the meadow. The whole rock is fenced, but the fence is for some reason not complete and the cave is still accessible, probably the fence was once used for animals like sheep. Or it was destroyed by visitor to the cave. The popularity of the place has a drawback, the gypsum is covered by graffiti. It seems the need to lift one's leg and mark one's territory is genetically anchored in humans.

It is said that the cave once had two entrances but the second entrance, only 10 m from the current entrance, collapsed. This is gypsum karst and gypsum is dissolved by water quite easily and in rather big amounts. As a result gypsum karst is like limestone karst on speed, anything happens rather fast, at least in geological terms. Its quite typical that a rather unique event like the collapse of a cave passage is remembered by the locals. Its probably only decades ago and there are actually living witnesses. On the other had we have to issue a warning: gypsum caves develop quite fast and so the danger of a collapse is much higher than in limestone caves. Never cave alone, tell somebody where you go and when you will be back. This cave is still frequently flooded and develops continually.

The place is also quite important for its plants and animals. The flora is very diverse with reeds, duckweed, water lilies and more, including many rare endemic and relict plants. The ponds and gullies are attractive for flocks of ducks and gulls, and for fish like carp, pike, perch and others.

According to legends Yemelyan Pugachev and Salavat Yulaev used the cave as a hideout. Actually the same story is told about almost any cave in the Urals. Often with a hidden treasure, which is weird as the Восстание Пугачёва (Pugachev's Rebellion) is also called Peasants' War or Cossack Rebellion. It was a result of profound peasant unrest during the reign of Catherine II between 1773 and 1775. It was the largest peasant revolt in Russia's history and generated many stories in legend and literature. But despite the fact that Salavat Yulaev and other memorable leaders of the rebellion were Bashkirs, it is quite unlikely they spent their time hiding valuables in caves. Nevertheless at least four caves in the area were actually named after Salavat Yulaev.

Karlamanskaya Cave is one of the largest gypsum caves in the republic. It is quite interesting, as it formed at the intersection of vertical and horizontal tectonic cracks. But unlike limestone karst, in gypsum this has no special effect on the dissolving process. There is no such thing as mixture corrosion with gypsum, so probably the importance of this intersection is exaggerated. Nevertheless cracks are necessary for water to enter gypsum, as the rock is actually not porous and thus impermeable. The vertical crack along which the cave passage formed can be seen clearly along the ceiling along its entire length. There are no speleothems in gypsum caves, but the walls show various forms of dissolution