Jeita Grotto Caves
A stunning series of caverns containing one of the world's most impressive agglomerations of stalactites and stalagmites. Stretching some 6km back into the mountains, Jeita caves are the source of Nahr Al-Kalb (Dog River), and in winter the water levels rise so high that the lower caverns, that are normally visited by boat, are flooded and closed. The upper cavern is open year-round and it is a surreal experience walking among its bizarre shapes.
The Jeita Grotto cave were originally discovered in 1836 by an American named Thompson who was out on a hunting trip. He fired a shot into the blackness to judge the size of his find and realised that the cavern was enormous. He reported the discovery but it was not until 1873 that the authorities sent a team from the Beirut Water Supply Company to investigate. They discovered a vast honeycomb of galleries and ravines with an astonishing natural spectacle of rock formations and enough water to supply part of Beirut city.
Later expeditions in 1902, 1927 and two further explorations in the 1950s managed to report and draw over 10km into the system. In 1958, a new dry upper chamber was discovered.