Inside Russia’s Psychedelic Salt Mine: Naturally Forming & Mind-Bending Patterns

Natural swirlings of carnallite and rock layers covers the entire cave and corridors with extraordinary patterns. The mineral called “carnallite”, which is a hydrated potassium magnesium chloride, serves as a powerful aid in plant fertilization. It is most commonly found to be yellowish-red, but can also appear to be blue, purple, or even colorless.


Today, only a small part of this astonishing mine is still being used, while miles and miles of it are restricted and are only accessible with a certain government permit.

Photographer and spelunker, Mikhail Mishainik, and his friends were not about to let any yellow tape get in their way of capturing the wondrous and rare beauty of this mine, as they made their way along the breathtaking corridors beneath the industrial city.


Here is what Mikhail had to say about his experience: ” The mines are huge and stretch many kilometres in width and length, a single tunnel can be over four miles long. It is hard to describe how it feels being so far down, you lose all track of time and the air is very dry, you always feel thirsty. The air is filled with small particles of salt and if we didn’t have our torches switched on it would be pitch black.

Many astonishing photographs were taken during Mikhail and his team’s adventures in the mine. They are reported to have spent over 20 hours exploring this majestic environment, and even stayed there overnight a couple of times.


Mikhail adds “It is easy to get lost as many of the passageways look the same, we navigate our way around very carefully. Many people know about the mines but it is very difficult to access them if you don’t have an official permit. We take our safety very seriously, but of course there are always dangers. There is the possibility of a gas leak from chemicals such as methane, hydrogen sulphide carbon dioxide as well the risk of a landslide. The danger element is part of the fun and it’s a special feeling being somewhere very few people have seen.