Jeita Grotto is one of the great wonders of nature on Earth and a must visit holiday in Lebanon. The architects of Jeita Grotto were water and time. The crystalized cave consists of stalactites and stalagmites formed by water drops over millions of years. The shapes and sizes of the formation will bedazzle you. It is an exciting trip to the Jeita Grotto where you take a ropeway and then a Train to reach this incredible holiday in Lebanon. Inside the caves, you get an exciting boat ride through waterfalls and the millions of year’s old crystal formations.
Jeita Grotto is located in the valley of Nahr El Kalb also called the Dog River and is 18 KMs north of Beirut. You can drive down to the Grotto in 45 minutes from downtown Beirut. All tour operators in Beirut organize trips to Jeita Grotto through Coaches.
The Jeita Grotto is open from 9am-6pm during Jun-Sep and from 9am-5pm during Oct-May. It is closed on Mondays. If you visit Jeita Grotto in winter, the lower gallery might not be accessible if the water levels are high.
There is no stay option in Jeita Grotto. Beirut is just 18 KMs away and so you can do a day trip. You can combine Jeita Grotto with other places of interest in Lebanon like Byblos and Harissa and do a full day tour.
Jeita Grotto was discovered in 1836 by Reverend William Thomson, am American Missionary accidently. He had fired a shot and the resultant echo led him to locate the cavern. It was formed by water drops over millions of years which formed the stalactites on the ceiling and stalagmites on the ground. The complex comprises of 2 Grottos with a river flowing through it.
The approach to Jeita Grotto itself is an exciting part of this holiday in Lebanon. From the parking area you can take the cable car till the entrance as you fly over the majestic mountains. There is also an option of a cute replica of a Steam Engine that can take you up. My suggestion would be that you take the cable car on your way up and the train on return.
A boat ride takes you into the underground of the cave, million years into the past. There is a gushing waterfall closer to the entrance and then serene silence as you go deeper into the cave. The stalagmites jutting from the floor with their myriad shapes provide a surreal feeling.
While the upper gallery is more than 2000 meters long, a walkway has been created for 750 meters. The walkway provides excellent view of the stalactites hanging from the ceiling. It is interesting to note that the formations are in white as well as red in color. The red color is imparted due to rust!
This section also houses the longest stalactite in the world, stretching beyond 8 meters.
Another noteworthy structure to see is The Guardian of Time", a sculpture by Lebanese artist Tony Farah outside the lower cave.
Jeita Grotto not only has Touristic value for Lebanon, but it also supplies drinking water to Beirut! The spring that comes out of Jeita Grotto caters to the drinking water needs of 1.5 million residents of Beirut.
For my travelogues on other natural wonders around the world, visit great nature holiday ideas.
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