TITASh CHAKRABORTY -
Caves in Oman are of varying types and lengths, sizes and geographic formations, and annually attract to Oman large numbers of Speleologists — Those that study caves and other karst features, their make-up, structure, physical properties, history, life forms, and the processes by which they form and change over time.
In former times, residents of the mountainous areas used the caves as places of abode and safe havens from the vagaries of weather and nature.
Here are five of the most popular caves in Oman that you definitely have to visit at least once.
Al Hoota Cave
Probably one of the most popular tourist destinations of the Sultanate, it lies in the southern part of Al Jabal Al Akhdar (Green Mountain), specifically near Wilayat Al Hamra in Al Dakhiliyah Governorate. A two-hour drive from Muscat and half an hour from Nizwa, Al Hoota Cave was discovered by local residents hundreds of years ago, and its name derives from the village where it is located.
The cave extends for 5 kilometres underground, but it may only be accessed for a distance of 860 metres, ending at Cave Lake. Al Hoota Cave Lake: Located at the end of a footpath. It is 20 metres deep, but there are many parts whose depth surpasses that. The lake contains several species of blind fish: some are without eyes but have long bristles to sense their food, while others have very small eyes. A certain rare type of fish that can also be found in this lake is a unique pink fish that is so translucent that its skeleton and internal organs are visible to the naked eye.
Abu Habban Cave
This cave is located in Wilayat Dimma At Tayyin in the Al Sharqiya North Governorate, at a distance of 10 kilometres from the centre of the district to the east. While locals have their memorable anecdotes about this cave, a quick tour inside offers one insight as to what makes Al Sharqiya unique. The cave is mainly characterised by the presence of many rock formations in a diverse variety of colours. If you are into spelunking or studying rocks, then you’d find a lot of enjoyable sections to satisfy your rock curiousity.
Al Marnif Cave
This cave is located in the Shatti Al Mughsayl area about 40 kilometres from Salalah in the governorate of Dhofar. Overlooking the Arabian Sea and Al Mughsayl fountains (blow-holes), which are a natural phenomenon resulting from the momentum of the water surging into the cavities of rock that lie mostly under water. In monsoon, when sea levels rise and water currents become more active, the running water rips through the rock cavities, resulting in the surge of the water fountain, noted for its outstanding beauty. The sound of the gushing water lends the place a unique ambience of its own.
Majlis Al Jinn
Out of sight in the heart of brown hills located at the foothills of the eastern Al Hajar Mountains hides one of the greatest and most beautiful natural wonders of the Sultanate, the Majlis Al Jinn Cave, or Salma Plateau as it is commonly known, and is considered one of the largest underground caves in the world. The area of this enormous cave is 58 thousand square metres and its capacity is 4 million cubic metres. It is 310 metres in length and its width is at a whopping 225 metres. A dome-shaped ceiling tops the cave at a height of 120 metres. Despite the enormity of this cave, it is difficult to detect it from the outside in this vast area, as the only evidence of its existence is a scant three openings that seem of no importance to the viewer. Majlis Al Jinn Cave is located at the northern limit of Salma Plateau near the village of Fins in Wilayat Qurayyat in the Governorate of Muscat. Reaching the Cave opening requires strenuous physical effort since you must traverse a distance of 1,300 metres to reach the cave opening through rugged mountain terrain. This trip takes about five hours. The only way to descend into the cave is by ropes, the cave is considered a repository of natural life treasures.
This cave is located in Wadi Bani Khalid in the Al Sharqiya North Governorate, near the famous water pools of Muqal. Upon entering the cave, the roar of underground water flowing through its hard rocks will assail your senses. Your eyes will be captivated by the beautiful rock formations, and you’re sure to be mesmerised by the water pools and streams flowing along Wadi Muqal Road.