Old Kerch is notable not only for antique ruins, old burial mounds and medieval fortresses, but also for truly unique natural attractions, located in the city’s surroundings. One of them is an amazing mud volcanoes valley, spread out 8 kilometers away from Kerch.
Mud volcanoes are a quite rare natural phenomenon and are not as widespread as magmatic ones. Such volcanoes are formed as a result of tectonic movements of the earth's crust, when gases, formed by underground organic remains, lift particles of clay through fissures at high pressure. Along the way, this mixture of clay and gas goes through the aquifer with the result that clay is diluted and pushed to the surface, forming cone-like hills.
One of the largest mud volcanoes’ clusters is located near Kerch. The wide hollow, where about ten volcanoes are located, is often called the Moon Valley. Its landscape is truly fantastic: fanciful hills, from which gas jets gush out with unusual sound and form bursting mud bubbles, tower above the desert ground here and there. And in the center of this breathing hollow, a mud lake, constantly changing its size and shape, is situated. According to legend, these mud volcanoes, whose age is about 25 – 30 million years, were described in Homer’s well-known ‘Odyssey’ as entrances to the underground kingdom of the dead.
Another mud volcanoes valley is often called the Bulganak Valley (Bulganak is a former name of the Bondarenkovo village, near which it is located). It houses very little mud volcanoes, reminiscent of mere puddles, on whose surface mud bubbles periodically swell and burst with sniffle, as well as several-meter-high formations, having classical conical shape with a crater, filled with bubbling mixture of mud and gas. The largest and the most powerful volcano of the Bulganak group is the Andrusova Volcano, having 50-meter diameter.
You should be careful when walking through a mud volcanoes valley, because sometimes you can plunge in the mud up to your ankles. It is unsafe to come too close to the central lake, while a real swamp hides under its cracked ground. Locals say that a German tank attempted to shorten a way and went through Bulganak Valley during the World War II. Since then, nobody saw it ever again.
A trip to the Kerch mud volcanoes is not only an interesting and entertaining adventure, but a healthy one too. Oily and elastic mineral mud that gushes from subsoil is full of many substances useful for humans and has long been used to treat and prevent various diseases. And valley’s air is saturated with curative iodine vapor.
Getting here. Take a bus number 64 from the Kerch bus station to village Bondarenkovo, and then walk 2 miles to the north.