Active Projects for 2022

Due to COVID19 and travel difficulties, the ATI Team projects in Mexico have been suspended over the past year and a half, and most of its members are currently in Europe. This greatly facilitated the creation of Club Martel at this time, and for this reason in 2022 we will continue in full force with priority work on our current projects in Bulgaria, already with the financial and logistical support of EMKGI. The main focus this year will be on the continuation of the exploration and research of System “M”, with the addition of several expeditions to other cave systems discovered by us. By the end of the year it could be possible to resume work in the “Ixtlan” and “Magic Kingdom” caves in Mexico, if circumstances allow.

James descending P4 of the “M” Cave System, Bulgaria, 2022.


“M” Cave System, Bulgaria

After nearly ten years of research, in 2020 the Tenebris Underground Research Group, together with the ATI Cave Exploration Team managed to penetrate the reservoirs of the huge cave system under one of the largest karst areas in Bulgaria. This became possible after a series of unprecedented for Bulgaria very difficult cave dives and the establishment of an initial underground camp behind a series of sumps. In the second half of 2021, a total of 12 expeditions were conducted with the establishment of three permanent dry underground camps and the length of the system quickly exceeded 10 km, with nearly 200 meters total depth. The potential is for the largest cave system in this part of Europe. Funding has been provided for the continuation of our work in 2022 and we hope for tens of kilometers of new passages this year.

Alexander Makulev as a guest in camp 1 of the “M” cave system, Bulgaria 2022. Junior cavers are always welcome, despite the difficulties … especially those who are lightning fast at the pits and do not get tired after a day of penetration and 5 days underground 🙂

“3М” Cave, Bulgaria

We continue the work on the alpine site provisionally called “3M”, mainly on the excavation of the meander on the lower level below the pit 3. Due to the difficult work and the low temperatures in the system, and due to the complete shift of our focus to System “M”, things are going slowly, but we have planned 3 expeditions there this year. Breakthrough is always possible, not much remains.

“ЗV” Pit, Bulgaria

At the beginning of January of 2022 the Tenebris Group made great progress at a vertical cave site conditionally called “3V”, its depth reached 120 meters and we are already in an area of ​​very strong air currents and several promising fossil galleries that show no signs of ending. There is also an unexplored pit that seems to be more than 60 meters deep, but clearing it from three ominously overhanging rock blocks will require several days of work and most likely some explosives. The difficult access hinders research there to some extent, but we have planned several visits to the cave before spring.

Rigging the entrance pit of 3V, 2019


Ixtlan Cave, Mexico

Research in Ixtlan has been going on for 9 years. The exploration front is already more than 10 kilometers from the entrance and the dives are very long (over 5 hours, standard) and tiring, but the cave not only does not end, but becomes more branched and huge. Miracles continue to happen there.

Ivo Kalushev, 4 kilometers away from the entrance, during the “Restrictions” line exploration, Ixtlan Cave, Mexico, 2017. © Picture: Deyan Iliev

“Magic Kingdom” Cave, Mexico

The Magic Kingdom Cave is a project that has been waiting to happen for a long time. Discovered by the ATI Team years ago, this cave is one of the largest underwater caves in the world with halls over one hundred and fifty meters long and 40 meters high in places. Some of the passages go very deep and the cave is unique in many ways. Research will most likely continue in the near future, this year we hope.

A Magic Kingdom dive with Rob Dunnette, 2017 © Picture: Ivo Kalushev