Kan-i-Gut Expedition – an open invitation


Photo courtesy of Dr. Alexey Dudashvili
Photo courtesy of Dr. Alexey Dudashvili


Kan-i-Gut is a natural cave that has been extensively extended by miners over the centuries. The cave is located in the northern foothills of the Turkestan Range in the Batken region of south west Kyrgyzstan.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Alexey Dudashvili
Photo courtesy of Dr. Alexey Dudashvili

The cave is being explored by the Kyrgyz based Foundation for the Preservation and Study of Caves, who began exploration of the cave and mine workings back in 2008 with the intention of also producing a 3D model of the cave. In 2014 an international expedition continued the work and included cavers from Canada, Russia and Tajikstan as well as local cavers. The Foundation is a publicly recognised non-profit making body whose aims include strengthening relations with international speleologists, cave protection and scientific study.

Dr. Alexey Dudashvili explains that the cave is currently around 6,000 metres long, with many levels, passages and galleries remaining unexplored. Over fifteen hundred years the cave has variously been mined for silver and lead, originally by Arabs, then ancient Chinese miners and much later Soviet political prisoners during World War Two. He confirms that an expedition is planned for August and September 2017 and that the foundation will provide vehicles, base camp equipment, tents, food, technical equipment and all necessary permits.

The Tian Shan range in Kyrgyzstan, further east of Kan-i-Gut. Photo from Wikipedia.

Kyrgyzstan, also known as the Kyrgyz Republic is a small landlocked Central Asian country bordered by China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikstan. Researching for this article one phrase on Wikipedia jumped off the page – “all its rivers flow into closed drainage systems which do not reach the sea” – something sure to attract the interest of cavers? The country is on the route of the Silk Road, and a quick internet search reveals stunning Alpine-like scenery, lakes, surrounded by high peaks.

Travel to Kyrgyzstan seems to be “interesting” to say the least – anyone considering it should obviously do their own research but may want to take a look at the Foreign Office travel advice pages first.

The cave is the subject of a well produced documentary, the cave exploration starts around twenty five minutes in. Any Russian speakers out there may well find it interesting.

Cavers thinking of getting involved should email Dr. Alexey Dudashvili for more details.

Contributor: Dr. Alexey Dudashvili