Travel bucket list idea:
Beirut, Mount Lebanon Governorate, Lebanon|jeitagrotto.com|
These interconnected, cathedral-like limestone caverns at Jeita form one of the most beautiful cave systems in the world, spanning 9km within the Nahr al-Kalb valley.
There are two grottos – an upper and lower. The upper grotto is explored on foot via a manmade walkway; it’s home to the world’s largest known stalactite, an 8.2m behemoth that dangles precariously above the cave floor.
The lower grotto can only be visited by boat as it channels an underground river. It’s especially breathtaking, as if you were sailing into a cathedral built by Mother Nature herself.
Getting there & doing it
Several Beirut-based tour companies offer day trips to Jeita. While they’re useful for getting you there (Lebanese roads are famously dangerous), at the site itself a guide is a bonus but not a necessity. Hotels can arrange for transportation to the site too, but there’s no public transport.
The entrance to the upper cave is a little way uphill from the main entrance. You can walk up, but there’s also a cable car and mini train.
The caves are well lit and the walkway is safe, but it can be daunting if you’re scared of heights.
Even during the peak summer months it’s surprisingly cool inside the grotto. Make sure you bring a sweater or light jacket to keep warm, especially for the boat ride.
When to do it
It’s open (almost) all year round, seven days a week.
The grotto is closed for a few weeks during winter when the water level rises, usually late January and early February. Check the website for dates.
The caves can get crowded during the summer months. If you’re going then, try and arrive as early as possible.
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