Newly mapped Jebel Akhdar cave raises tourism hopes in Oman

Cavers exploring the site find stalagmites, stalactites and wildlife, and say it could attract adventurous visitors

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Cavers have documented a new cave in Oman’s Dakhaliya region, opening up a potential tourist attraction.

The cave, found near Jebel Akhdar — the Green Mountain in Arabic — was named Khaslat Safi Sahra by the Omani Cave Exploration Team, after the nearby village.

Local people told the group about the cave. They spent around six hours exploring it, after removing rocks at its entrance.

Mohammed Al Kindi, a member of the team that documented Khaslat Safi Sahra, said the area is honeycombed with caves — both mapped and unmapped.

“Most of the rocks that cover Jebel Akhdar are limestone ... and these are prone to dissolution because of acidic water,” he told The National.

“The small caverns within the rocks grow larger over time and they form various types of cavities.”

Khaslat Safi Sahra has a 2.5 metre opening and contains two chambers — one to a depth of five metres and the second to 10 metres.

Inside, the explorers found a number of animals, including spiders and frogs, and various forms of stalagmites and stalactites.

Omani cavers explore in the country's Jebel Akhdar area. It is honeycombed with caves created by limestone erosion. Photo: Nabil Alsaqri

Khaslat Safi Sahra was formed in limestone sediments dating back to the Cretaceous period, from about 145 million to 66 million years ago.

It will be added to the next edition of the group’s book A Guide to the Caves of Oman, which features more than 180 caves and advice on how to navigate them.

Mr Al Kindi said the book features caves of various difficulties, from those requiring expert exploration to ones suitable for family adventures.

He hopes the cave will become a tourist destination for Oman’s adventurous visitors, and says there are more to be documented and discovered.

“There could be many more caves to be discovered in Oman,” he said. “The locals will know them but have not communicated their locations to interested cavers.

“On the other hand, many caves are probably not exposed. However, with continuous erosion some may become accessible in tens of years.”

The Omani team also explored the 'Well of Hell' sinkhole in Yemen. They found snakes, cave pearls and fresh water in the bottom of the well in Al Bahra region in 2021.

Updated: March 15, 2022, 2:26 PM
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