Deep within the gypsum bedrock located underneath the western Ural Mountains in Russia, Orda Cave is one of the longest underwater caves in the world. Not only is the cave unique thanks its location within the vast mountains of Crimea, Orda Cave also has some of the most pristine visibility of any underwater cave on the planet of up to 150 feet (50 m). This matches even the crystal-clear cenotes of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. In recent years, Orda Cave has emerged as one of the world’s best cave dives.
Diving Orda Cave
Based in the town of Yekaterinburg, a small diving operation will open a whole new world to divers and freedivers alike. The cave’s mouth is near the shore of the Kungur River and the cave system formed over 500,000 years agowhen the ocean covered what is now called the Perm region. Merely a grassy hill above the surface, it comes as quite a shock to see what lies under the rock. Sinkholes are the only clue to the underwater world and allow cave-diving parties access the cave.
The water is not only incredibly clear thanks the gypsum rock that filters the water; it is also extremely cold, averaging only 40 F (4 degrees C). Dry suits are absolutely necessary and sidemount rigs will allow easier access when penetrating the narrowest sections of the cave. Proper training in drysuit diving, cave diving and sidemount diving are essential. Divers have measured the cave to be just over three miles long (4,850 m) long, but new grottos, cathedral-like caverns and passageways are discovered every year.
Due to its stunning visibility, there have been many photographic expeditions into the cave, where photographers have captured some of the world’s most striking underwater cave images. The global underwater explorers (GUE) are perennially exploring the cave system, paving the way for both tech and recreational divers alike. Many groups spend days inside the cave, gradually exploring more and more of the system. Geologists, in particular, are beginning to appreciate the allure of this spectacular cave. They often visit to take both data and samples.