Out­door ac­tion

Le­banon's spec­tac­u­lar caves

Lebanon Traveler - - CONTENTS -

1. MABAJ, KHRAJ ALMAT - BY­B­LOS

The Mabaj cave was dis­cov­ered in the early six­ties. Al­though vis­i­tors can only ac­cess the first 192 me­ters of the cave, the cave pas­sages have a va­ri­ety of forms and tex­tures.

The en­trance to this cave is a nat­u­ral wide open­ing, of­fer­ing easy ac­cess for vis­i­tors to start their ad­ven­ture.

How to get there: The cave is 19km from By­b­los. Head to­wards Anaya St. Char­bel, then con­tinue in the di­rec­tion of Almat, Tourzaya. How to ar­range a visit: Call 03 056520/70 856974 or visit mabaj.com

2. AIN OUZAIN, SHOUF

In­ter­est­ingly, the Ain Ouzain cave was dis­cov­ered in 2003 dur­ing the con­struc­tion of a car park. Cave map­ping un­earthed a site of around 327 me­ters, 185 of which are open to tourists. The pas­sages are just two me­ters wide and the cave’s labyrinth sys­tem ex­poses a chalky marl for­ma­tion of the up­per cre­ta­ceous. Ar­ti­fi­cial light­ing guides vis­i­tors and ex­tends be­yond the ac­ces­si­ble sec­tion to show the con­tin­u­a­tion of the cave sys­tem.

How to get there: The cave is 54km from Beirut. Take the road to Damour, then head to­wards Deir el Qa­mar. Fol­low the di­rec­tions to Semqaniye and con­tinue to Ain Ouzain vil­lage. How to ar­range a visit: Call 03 619551

3. ZAHLAN, DANNIEH - AKKAR

Set in strata of cal­cium and dolomites, the Zahlan cave be­longs to the late Juras­sic pe­riod. It is di­vided into three sec­tions; the cur­rent cave, a lower cave and a third cave at the bot­tom of the val­ley, where the Zahlan fountain gushes out. Vis­i­tors to Zahlan can ex­plore a me­an­der­ing cave rich in cal­cite for­ma­tions (sta­lac­tites and sta­lag­mites), which cover most of the walls and ceil­ings.

How to get there: Take the road to Dannieh from Tripoli or Zgharta, all the way to Sir el Dannieh. From Sir El Dannieh, con­tinue to Kat­tine vil­lage. How to ar­range a visit: Call 70 322999

4. ROUIESS, MAJDEL AKOURA - BY­B­LOS

Dis­cov­ered by Le­banese spele­ol­o­gists in 1955, the Rouiess cave boasts an un­der­ground river and around six kilo­me­ters of pas­sages and cham­bers. The cave con­sists of three lev­els, each with its own unique char­ac­ter­is­tics. It is also home to the largest cham­ber in Le­banon af­ter Jeita.

The cave has a colony of bats, and with no ar­ti­fi­cial light­ing or pas­sages, vis­i­tors must be ready to take on full dark­ness, guided only by the light of their torches.

How to get there: Head north out of Beirut to­wards By­b­los. Once you have ex­ited the high­way, con­tinue in­land, fol­low­ing the di­rec­tion of Laqlouq. From Lalouq you need to pass through Akoura in or­der to reach Majdel Akoura. How to ar­range a visit: Call 03 128708

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