The Shulgan-Tash Nature Reserve is located on the southern slope of the Ural Mountain Range in the Burzyansky district of Bashkiria. The distance from Ufa to the reserve is 370 kilometers. Its territory is only 22 thousand hectares, but here you can visit one of the most important monuments of the History of Russia of ancient times – Kapova Cave, where rock paintings of the Paleolithic era have been preserved.
The Shulgan-Tash Nature Reserve was established in 1958. In the beginning, it was a branch of the Bashkir Reserve, but since 1986 it has been made an separate reserve. The Altyn Solok Nature Reserve has opened nearby. The territories of Shulgan-Tash and Altyn Solok are united into a single recreational complex together with the Bashkir Nature Reserve.
Despite the exceptional scientific importance of the Kapova Cave, the main reason for the creation of the Shulgan-Tash Nature Reserve was the protection and preservation of honey hunting. The habitat of the Burzyan bee has been preserved in Bashkiria. Tourists can learn more about the honey hunting at the Museum of Honey Hunting, which is located on the bank of the Belaya River, near the cordon of the Shulgan-Tash Reserve.
Shulgan and Ural are heroes of the Bashkir epic. They were young children, and their father went hunting alone for the strongest animals. Before hunting, he drank the blood of animals, but forbade children to do it. Shulgan disobeyed his father and also tasted this blood. Because of this, he was forced to wander, including through the dungeons. Over time, he switched to the side of evil, and the Ural batyr grew up and became the strongest hero.
Shulgan-Tash in Bashkir language means "Lost under a stone". We are talking about a small river Shulgan. Its length is only 13 kilometers. It flows through the reserve, but 2.5 km from the Kapova cave disappears underground and flows through karst cavities. Near the entrance to Kapova Cave, the river comes out of the ground again and then flows into the Belaya River.
Kapova Cave in the Shulgan-Tash Nature Reserve is located on the banks of the Belaya River in a picturesque place. From the cordon of the reserve, tourists can walk 2 kilometers to the cave through the South Ural forest along the bed of the Belaya River. Visiting the cave is possible only as part of an excursion, after that tourists can walk around the neighborhood, along the river.
Kapova Cave is of great importance for the world archaeological and paleontological science, as there are preserved rock carvings that were painted in red ochre by ancient people in the Upper Paleolithic era.
Radiocarbon analysis has shown that these rock carvings made by ancient people belong to the Upper Paleolithic era. The drawings are painted on the wall in red ochre. It is a mineral dye based on iron oxides and hydroxides.
The Paleolithic period began 40 thousand years ago, and ended 10 thousand years ago. At that time there was the last Ice Age (25-17 thousand years ago). The oldest drawings in the Kapova Cave were made about 18 thousand years ago. The last drawings were made about 14 thousand years ago. More information about the Kapova Cave can be found at the Kapova Cave Museum.
The main sightseeing routes in the Shulgan-Tash Nature Reserve are "Reserved Land" and "Waiting for a miracle". These traditional routes include a walk to the Kapova Cave with a visit to the Museum of Honey Hunting and the Museum of Kapova Cave. During a walk along the route "To Mount Timertau", tourists climb the mountain where you can admire the beauty of the Nature of the Shulgan-Tash reserve. At this point, the Belaya River makes a very deep bend among the low mountains.
Tourists are also offered a water route "Along the beauty of Agidel". It provides for rafting on the Belaya River (in Bashkir language “Agidel”). Its length is about 10 hours, during which tourists on boats will go 7 kilometers through the protected area of Shulgan-Tash and Altyn Solok. During the trip, you can see the beautiful landscapes and wildlife of the reserve.
Other routes allow to make radial hikes through the most beautiful places of the Shulgan-Tash reserve: "Maxim Mountain Route", "Route to the rocks above the apiary", “Route to the Fairy Tale rock", "The route through the Yumaguzinsky reservoir". The longest route "Reserved circumnavigation" involves hiking and traveling by car for a distance of 120 km through protected areas. The hike along this route lasts 2-3 days.
The nearest large village near the cordon of the Shulgan-Tash Reserve is the village of Starosubhangulovo. The distance from it to the cordon of the reserve is 33 kilometers. A small village of Morat Tugai is located directly near the cordon. Previously, only a dirt road was laid between these villages, but now there is a very good asphalt road here. There are several guest houses and cafes in the village of Morat Tugai, but in general, the tourist infrastructure of the Shulgan-Tash Reserve is just beginning to be created.