The Jeita Grotto, a network of caves that span a length of almost 6 miles and channels an underground river, is vying for a spot among the world’s new seven wonders of nature.
Just outside of Beirut, the Jeita caves are the source of the 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 caves were originally discovered in 1836 by the American, Reverend William Thomson who was out on a hunting trip.
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 6 miles into the system.
In 1958, Lebanese speleologists discovered the upper galleries 60 meters (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 stalactite, they are composed of a series of chambers the largest of which peaks at a height of 120 meters (390 ft).
Nabil Haddad , who is in charge of Jeita Grotto,told Voice of Lebanon on Friday that Jeita is very hopeful to being named one of the world’s new seven wonders of nature.
He said the final short list includes 28 candidates from around the world.
Haddad said “what is encouraging is that 95 % of the votes for Jeita came from outside.
He added that discussions are ongoing with the International committee to hold in Beirut the final celebrations during which the new seven wonders of nature will be announced.
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