“ Caves situated 18 Km from Beirut „
I visited Jeita Grotto a few months ago so I thought I might share my experience with you. You might find it interesting like I did when I went there. The Grotto was closed during the civil war and reopened in 1995. Jeita Grotto is one of the finalists of the new seven wonders and one of the most beautiful and most visited natural wonders in Lebanon.
Before I started I would like to give some information about Lebanon and its location just in case you haven't been there before.
=== Lebanon and the capital Beirut ===
The Republic of Lebanon is a small country located on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea and one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Believe it or not, Lebanon has many natural beauties, small and long rivers, ever green trees like the cedar tree which is the main symbol in the Lebanese flag.
Unfortunately, the civil war deprived Lebanese people a lot of things such as electricity; however the Lebanese people rebuilt the country after the war stopped after 15 long years of blood- shed. Lebanon is now nearly back to business again with tourism as it used to be before the civil war. Jeita Grotto was nominated to be one of the new seven wonders of the nature on the world.
== Jeita Grotto ==
The grotto is named "Jeita" because of its location in a small village named Jeita. Jeita grotto or "magharat Jeita" in Arabic was first discovered by an American person named Thompson who was out on a hunting trip in 1836. So far, The Jeita grotto is the longest explored cave in Lebanon.
Jeita Grotto actually consists of two separate but somewhat linked caves. The caves are placed in Nahr al Kalb (which translates to the dog river). It's about 19-20 kilometres away from the highway of Northern Beirut. The length of the grotto is almost 9km and has two main entrances one for the lower cave and the other for the upper cave.
The grotto is be made up of karstic limestone caves, which means that the action of water has created irregular limestone shapes , some of them are stunning series of impressive accumulations of icicles and extremely sharp columns.
== Opening hours ==
The best times to visit is during summer season and it's so long in Lebanon.
The opening hours as the following:
June : 9AM-6pM
July-September : 9 AM :7PM
And finally, from October-May : 9AM-5PM
Please note that sometimes only the upper cave can be visited during winter due to the rise in water as sometimes the level of the river gets higher.
== How to get there? ==
Reaching the Grotto is pretty straight forward but the problem is with the continuous rush hours caused because most drivers don't respect the driving rules. Also, when the weather is bad the traffic is even worse and the horns started to blow. It took us about one and a half hours from the capital Beirut to the Jeita village and then the grotto although it wasn't a long distance but we stuck in the traffic.
You can order a taxi or use public transport like buses. The transportation is pretty cheap; you won't pay more than 20 Quid to get there.
== Ticket prices, I have included a copy of my ticket so you can see how it looks like ==
Before going anywhere, before even entering the grotto, you have to buy a special ticket to enter, well at least that is what I thought at the beginning, it is only a grotto.
The ticket prices are at a fixed price of LL 10,175.00 which is equivalent to $7(£3.5) so you can pay in Lebanese pound (Lira) or you can pay in US dollars, sterling is not accepted. Children are inclusive.
=== The Ticket is valid for one tour only on the day of purchase, by using the ticket you are entitled to ===
-A trip by cable car above the dog river and sightseeing the grotto from above.
-Another trip but this time by using a traditional train
-Enter to the projection theatre
-Visit to the upper grotto
-Visit to the lower grotto using another transportation method which is an old fashion boat.
== Entering the grotto ==
We used our ticket that we purchased from the kiosk near the resort to enter the grotto. You have to use your card as an access card to the grotto and other resorts; you have to insert the ticket at the entry gates of the upper and lower galleries and for the cable car. Don't lose your ticket and keep them safe for the train and the theatre.
The best time to visit is during summer because you can see both caves and enjoy the cooler air there, so bring a light jacket or a sweater when you inside because it's cold there.
The upper cave is about 650 metre long; we walked in by foot through a long tunnel made out of concrete. That tunnel was about 120 meters long. The tunnel was very cold and dry; there were spotlights on the side of the cave to illuminate the cave. My little son was annoyed, it wasn't the best entrance in the world, but once you had passed that tunnel, you had just entered one of God's best creations. The upper cave is full of fascinating shapes in two different colours white and gold and it is in different sizes too. The crystallised Caverns were sculpted by water throughout time. Some of them were astonishing, I was speechless, I was simply admiring the view nothing could be so breathtakingly brilliant. I pointed out to the kids the different shapes of the caverns, and one of them was a small replica of the Pisa tower, others were so funny, I remember seeing something like a grumpy old man shouting. Another stunning sculpture was curtain like, it was like a theatre curtain hanging from up to down. Then we reached to an area where no humans were prohibited to enter because of insufficient amount of oxygen there so we didn't venture anywhere forward. I enjoyed exploring the place, I got my camera with me to take some rare pictures but unfortunately they took the camera from me as later I was told photography was not allowed inside the caves as it can harm some features that are very fragile and million years old. I could take as many pictures as I want from the outside but not a single one on the inside. I was so sad that I had lost the photos but I took some beautiful pictures from outside of the cave.
== The lower cave ==
To approach this cave you should use the boat. The length of the cave is about 600 meters and it differs than the upper one. We were so excited and the boys were so happy to be on a boat trip. At the entrance there was a fast waterfall so it was a big surprise for me and the kids. It was slightly cold there but we took our jackets with us inside just in case. We wore a special vest for our safety to protect us from the splashing water which comes from the waterfall. I couldn't resist putting my hand in the water, it was extremely freezing cold. The man who was driving the boat sailed slowly so we could see the beautiful sculpture made by nature's hands. As we floated slowly everyone was silent, even my picky kids (sorry kids!!) were astonished by superb scenes. The place was very illuminated with a special light that doesn't harm the caves in any kind of way.
When we finished exploring the caves we went to the special theatre near the entrance to the upper cave to watch a documentary film about Jeita Grotto. The film is about 25-30 minutes long. I enjoyed it but again the boys were bored and wanted to see the rest of the resort. The film is showing in a few languages, such as Arabic, English and French, so first you double check which time the language you want is shown before watching unless you can speak all three languages, there won't be a problem then.
We went outside to visit the other facilities such as restaurants, restrooms, snack bars and souvenir shops that sell some beautiful handmade memento to collect in addition to postcards and many other things.
== The restaurants and café ==
Jeita restaurant has everything you want, from Lebanese irresistible food and snacks to fast food burgers. Drinks hot and cold, soft and alcohol were on sell. The prices are reasonable comparing to some other resorts and the food was absolutely delicious. The service was excellent, fast orders dispatch and smiley staff. The restaurant was clean and hygiene level was up to standard. I used the toilet and it was spotless.
== The garden ==
The kids loved playing outside, it wasn't a normal garden, and I mean it was beautiful and the sun was shining there, we enjoyed exploring the garden and seeing some sculptures.
== The train ==
The old fashion steam train was the best feature for the boys so far, the loved stepping in the train and exploring the whole resort from outside, I managed to take some pictures of the train and the grotto from outside. The slow motioned train was fun, it took us about 10 minutes then we stopped from where we had started.
== The cable car ==
And finally the last thing was the cable car. They four sets of car cars, two white, one green and the other is red. The colours resemble the Lebanese flag. We stepped on the green one. It was quite high from the land, I wasn't so comfortable at the beginning and regretted getting on especially that my 5 year old son was so scared, I tried to calm him down and distract him by showing him how beautiful the river looked from up and the people and big red train and it worked, he actually loved it and asked for more rides.
Everything looked beautiful from outside whether it was the grotto, the river or the other resorts. It was a nice experience when you forget the fact that the cable car is only connected with a cable, I can't imagine the scene. hehe
== Parking tickets ==
If you travelled by car you have to pay for the parking ticket, don't lose otherwise you can't get out of the gate.
If you like what you've read or see you can vote to Jeita Grotto or the other seven wonders on
Thank you for reading my review.
Mistee-Dreamz / 2010