Saturday, February 04, 2023 | Rajab 12, 1444 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Majlis Al Jinn: The second largest subterranean chamber on earth


Around two hours drive from Muscat, Selma plateau hosts Majlis al Jinn, one of the biggest chambers in the world and at 1300 m altitude above sea level, one of the most intriguing cave network to explore.


Other than this gargantuan cave system, the area is also home to four sinkholes making it one of the best playgroubd for cavers. The four sinkholes found here include the three window cave, the arch cave, the funnel cave and the seventh hole.


Departing from Muscat, take the coastal road to Sur, take the exit headed for Fins. Follow the road to the mountain in the direction of Taab and Harima. Keep driving uphill until you reach the plateau of Selma. Once at the top and after a few kilometers, the road splits in two. Take right to reach a small hamlet hosting the great chamber.


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Majlis al jinn has three entrances: the First drop, Cheryl’s drop and the Asterisk hole. Don Davison, hydrogeologist by profession, was the first human being to abseil into Majlis al jinn through the First drop in 1983.


He was followed few months later by his wife Cheryl through another entrance that eventually became eponymous to the lady explorer. At 157m, Cheryl’s drop, was at that time, the highest freefall drop in Arabia.


When it was discovered, Majlis Al Jinn was the second largest subterranean chamber on earth.


On 27 February 2004, five amateurs Virginie, Vianney, Jacques, Johan and myself with two professionals Patrick and Nathalie set up our caving gears and started our descent into the heart of Selma plateau.


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Nathalie decided to send me first. I set up my descender onthe rope and I started sliding down the 1cm diameter rope very slowly. I could see Nathalie 20m below me at the belay point where I had to switch to the second rope and continue around 140m in a free drop.


The first part of the descent (approximately 20m) is in a narrow chimney where you can’t see further than the belay point after which you are dangling in the air like a spider on thin thread, the closest wall to you is at about 100m and the floor at 140m that you start seeing lit by a magnificent orange color.


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At that point I could see some pebbles on the floor of the cave but they were growing as I was progressing down the rope and I realized that they were boulders big as a small house once I touched the ground!


The abseil was not scary to me because being the first one to go into the cave I didn’t have any reference to realize how high I was.


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The chamber is just enormous and your brain cannot understand it! A surface of 58.000 square meter enough to fit 8 football fields and 4 million cubic meters in volume. The calcite formation are rare in this room, you can find very few stalactites and stalagmites and other cave pearls.


You don’t need headlamps because the holes in the ceiling are big enough to let the daylight penetrate and light up the room. Around mid-day the beams of light of the sun take a shape of a projector giving you the impression that you are a star on a theater scene!


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It was time to start climbing out and the ascent was much more impressive and scary and every move would make you bounce for few seconds because of the elasticity of the rope. It took me around 40 long minutes to reach the surface. Nathalie made it in 16 minutes!


I hope that this exceptional site will be protected and will be accessible for nature adventure lovers exclusively.


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