Kabeer Yousuf –
Oman’s historic caves have been featured in international journals as they are a tempting factor for most of the adventure tourists who seek an element of adrenaline rush while holidaying in the country.
The recently held International Show Caves Association’s (ISCA) Conference was a testimony to this as people from different countries were awestruck by the mystery and fear-triggering depth and width of these huge holes on earth.
“The feedback from the cave-enthusiasts was really overwhelming and they showed commendable interest in the cave wealth of the country”, says Sara Chortani, who was incharge of handling all land arrangements for the attendees of the conference from more than 40 countries.
Caves in Oman are of varying types and lengths, sizes and geographic formations, and annually they attract large number of speleologists. Speleology is the scientific study of 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.
Oman’s Dhofar Governorate contains a large number of caves, some of which have springs near them. In olden times, residents of the mountainous areas used the caves as places of abode and safe havens from the vagaries of weather and nature. Some of the most sought-after caves of Oman are:
Abu Habban Cave
It is located in Wilayat Dimma At Tayyin in the North A’Sharqiyah Governorate, at a distance of 10 kilometres from the centre of the district to the east, and is characterised by the presence of many types of rock.
Al Hoota Cave
Perhaps the most featured cave in Oman, Al Hoota Cave lies in the southern part of Jabal Al Akhdhar, near Wilayat Al Hamra in al Dakhiliyah Governorate. It is about two hours’ 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.
Al Kittan Cave
Al Kittan Cave is located in Wilayat Ibri, the Dhahirah Governorate. A distance of 8 kilometres separates it from Ibri. The cave’s uniqueness lies in its extreme luminosity that looks like marble, which earned it the name of “the marble cave”. Al Kittan Cave houses beautiful geological formations and rock engravings.
The cave is located in Wilayat Izki in Dakhiliyah Governorate at the foot of the Halfeen Valley below the ancient Al Nizar village. The cave also enjoys a strategic location at Wilayat Izki in the interior governorate.
Majlis Al Jinn Cave
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. It is 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.
Muqal Cave is located in Wadi Bani Khalid in the Sharqiyah North Governorate, near the famous water pools in Muqal. On entering the cave, one can hear the roaring of underground water flowing through its hard rock which is a wonderful treat for a tourist.
Al Marnif Cave
Al Marnif Cave lies in Shatti Al Mughsayl area about 40 kilometres from Salalah in Governorate of Dhofar. It overlooks the Arabian Sea and Al Mughsayl fountains (blow-holes), which are a natural phenomenon in this area.
Teeq Cave and Tawi Ateer Sinkhole
Tawi Ateer Sinkhole, known as the ‘Bird Well’ gained international fame after its discovery in 1997 by a team of Slovenian explorers in collaboration with Sultan Qaboos University as one of the largest solvent sinkholes in the world.
“People who like to experience something different while on holiday or enjoy setting up a challenge for themselves find Oman to be a perfect location for its rugged terrains that are still pristine and untouched”, Sunil Prabhakar, CEO of Travel Point LLC, said.
“Along with that, Oman is also a great tourist location to relax and unwind, which becomes a wonderful opportunity for those visiting to soak in the country’s hospitality while also experiencing its picturesque locales.
Tourism is a ripe market for Oman and exposing the country’s natural beauty and creating unique, exclusive tours that benefit individuals who want to explore the unexplored is proving to be a great avenue to promote Oman”, he added.