While in Lebanon, world travelers should be sure to visit Jeita. These are considered the world’s most beautiful caverns, and being located just 20 km north of Beirut, they are within an easy day’s excursion.
The caverns, whose haunting stalagmites and stalactites seem to project an air of supernatural mystery about them, are made up of both higher and lower galleries.
Our normally chatty group fell silent as we gaped in awe at the beauty of the natural creations before us. Each of use could see shapes and characters in the various formations that surrounded us in the Jeita Grotto http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeita_Grotto
In order to reach the lower caverns you have to travel by boat over a subterranean lake. The temperature of the water here is a cool (literally) 14 degrees centigrade. If you travel there in the winter, don’t be surprised to find the lower galleries closed.
The upper gallery is somewhat warmer at 18 degrees and you can visit the pillars and formations all year long. You will need to reach them by aerial tramway however, from the entrance area. The ride itself just adds to the fun!
The Jeita grotto was discovered in 1836 but between 1874 and 1940 expeditions by English, American and French explorers dug deeper into the grotto to finally penetrate to as depth of 1750 meter. These days, the grotto is known to be at least 9 km in length.
Digging into the caves wasn’t an easy task and it took several years. Nowadays, 6,200 meter has been penetrated, ending in an underground river. The Dog River (Har el Kalb) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nahr_al-Kalb rises in this cavern.
When you see the beauty of the caverns here at Jeita grotto, it’s not surprising to learn that they have been nominated as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New7Wonders_of_the_World
San Francisco world travelers can leave from SFO and fly to Istanbul, where they will change plane for the two hour flight to Beirut, Istanbul. Deals can be found online at http://www.kayak.com