Sunday, September 02, 2012

Jeita Upper and Lower Grotto

3 days solo travel in lebanon
may 18-19, 2012 friday to sunday

baalbek temple of jupiter ruins

how to go here:
from beirut city preferably in daora, ride any van or a bus and ask driver to drop-off to hesua almanak. Travel time is around 30 minutes, with stop-overs and fare costs 1,500 lbp(bus) / 2,000 lbp (van). Drop-off area is fly-over bridge from left going to the right. Walk upwards and wait for a taxi (no public vehicle available). Negotiate taxi fare going to jeita grotto at maximum of 10,000 lbp ($6.67), travel time of around 20 minutes.

train-concept shuttle going to lower grotto, entrance fee included

cable car going to upper grotto, entrance fee included

entrance to upper grotto

The Jeita Grotto is a system of two separate, but interconnected, karstic limestone caves spanning an overall length of nearly 9 kilometres (5.6 mi). The lower cave can only be visited by boat since it channels an underground river. The upper galleries 60 metres (200 ft) above the lower cave which have been accommodated with an access tunnel and a series of walkways to enable tourists safe access without disturbing the natural landscape. The upper galleries house the world's largest known stalactite. Aside from being a Lebanese national symbol and a top tourist destination, Jeita was one of the top 14 Finalists in the New7Wonders of Nature.

One of the longest stalactite in the world measuring 8.2 meters, located in the upper grotto. The distance from the ceiling til the level of water measures 108 meters where a 35 storey building can be fitted. Complete tour takes around 90 minutes. In winter time, the lower grotto may be closed when the water level in the grotto is too high. Open daily (except Mondays) from 0900H to 1700H.

sneak shots inside jeita grotto (upper)

sneak shots inside jeita grotto (upper)

sneak shots inside jeita grotto (upper)

In my honest opinion, I think Jeita grotto is more deserving to be included in top 7 new wonders of nature as compared to my local underground river. I have visited over 15 caves mostly in my local area and even some in southeast asia, Jeita grotto ranks the best cave I have ever seen. Its because of the monstrous cluster of crystal stalagmites and stalactites matching the strategically mood lights and spectacular ambiance. Wait, I'm just talking about the upper grotto, what about the lower grotto? Though its just navigable by 500 meters compared to over a kilometer of Puerto Princesa UR, the boat trip is really, really worth it.

And how about the expense? Well, for opening hours of 0900H-1700H with scheduled foreign language tour guide, entrance fee is only 18,150 lbp ($12.1 / PhP520) that includes the following;
- cable car ride at around 500 meters length above the wild river
- secured locker for camera and other personal things to deposit
- entrance at upper grotto with well-designed walkway at over 700 meters
- wonder of longest and gigantic cave structures in the world
- dome-type cave with walkways not suitable for those who afraid of height
- well-placed mood lights to gave more sensible cave spectator
- very friendly staff during sightseeing inside
- train type coaster going down
- entrance at lower grotto, the underground part
- boat navigation up to 500 meters with superb presentations just like in upper part
- clear fresh water

sneak shots inside jeita grotto (upper)

sneak shots inside jeita grotto (upper)

sneak shots inside jeita grotto (upper)

entrance going to lower grotto (photography not allowed inside)

These are the reasons why I was somehow frustrated when I found-out this fascinating nature wonder ranked only 14th spot. Anyways, Jeita grotto is operated privately by a German company and has a contract up to year 2023. Upper grotto is navigable only by maximum of 1.5 hour due to humidity and oxygen issue, staff is important to go outside and have to change post with his other fellow staff. This is the reason also why photography is not allowed inside (both grotto) to minimize tourist congestion on one place, any form of camera must be left in locker. Closed every Mondays for maintenance.

My final words, I want to visit this place over and over again.

sidon (saida) fast tripping
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