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Memories of Jabal Akdhar's Al Dawa cave

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It was thanks to a tip from one of my patients, Adil bin Saleh Al Zakwani, that I had the chance to visit a little known cave in Wadi Al Mueidin in Jabal Akhdar that local people call “Al Dawa” cave.

Driven by curiosity and my passion of discovery I decided to check out this cave with my wife, Marta. It was on September 20, 2012.

Around one and a half hour drive from Muscat , we took the rough road in wadi al Mueidin on the left at 22° 56.972'N 57° 40.291'E. We continued straight ahead and took the right at 22° 59.335'N 57°40.291'E, then drove in the wadi till the end of the track.

From there we walked in the wadi for around one kilometer until we reached the place where the climb starts on the right of the wadi uphill towards the entrance of the cave.

At this point, we were joined by Adil’s brother, Jamal bin Saleh Al Zakwani, and his cousin, Mohamed bin Khamis Al Zakwani, who offered to guide us to the cavern.

It was a hot day and our progression in the wadi was quite difficult.

After 75 minutes of bouldering in the bed of the canyon we started climbing up a very steep slope on the left bank of the wadi, where the terrain was very unstable with loose rocks. The hike was very tough and unpleasant because of the stones rolling under our steps!

It took us another 30 minutes to reach a place where an exposed traverse made Marta and Mohamed stop. Jamal and I went further to reach the entrance of the cave 20 minutes from there. The hole in the mountain is not more than 5m wide and 1m high.

After a few meters inside the cave, we saw stone structures built by humans and then proceeded inside a tunnel. For approximately 100m, the distance between the lateral walls didn’t exceed 4m and the ceiling was so low that in some places we had to crawl to move forward. We came across lots of bats that looked disturbed and scared by our presence. In some places we found bat skeletons on the floor.

The more we progressed, the more the air became rare and the humidity was very high which made it harder for us to breathe. We lost plenty of water in sweat as the temperature was quite high.

In some places we had to squeeze ourselves between the ceiling and the floor in order to progress in the narrow tube. Jamal told me that sometimes after heavy rains the tunnel is flooded and one could get stuck inside.

After walking, climbing and crawling for some 40 minutes, we decided to stop our exploration in a place where the roof of the chamber reached a height of around 10 meters. The place was very pretty decorated with different kinds of calcite formations: stalactites and stalagmites intersect in some places forming what we call columns. Some of the formations were still growing as we saw water droplets dripping from their tip.

Jamal told me that back in the day, people used to collect white powder at the entrance of the cave and used it as a medicine, or dawa in Arabic, from which the cave’s name was derived, to treat some skin disease (probably eczema).

After taking pictures of the cave’s interior, we returned to the wadi where Marta and Mohamed had been waiting for us. We then drove to Birkat al Mawz to drop our friends who insisted on offering us a bag of dates collected in their gardens and continued to Jabal Akhdar where Marta and I spent the night looking forward to another exploration adventure in the mountain the next day.

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