Caving is one of tourism’s danger picks. Adventure seekers, eco-tourists and thrill-loving explorers travel the world delving into dark, cramped caverns of the underground. And now, Saudi Arabia is set to join the fold.
The Saudi Geological Survey revealed plans this week to launch new ecotourism destinations across the country. According to Lonely Planet News, five caves have been selected for development and will be transformed into geo-tourism sites that will open later this year. The plan is part of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 tourism initiative.
At the moment, the exact locations of the caves have not been revealed but the national geological organisation is preparing easy access points for tourists while putting plans in place to protect the natural environment and ecosystems in and around the caves.
An earlier study by the Saudi Geological Survey recommended that cave tourism in the Kingdom should be launched at three caves on the As Sulb Plateau, approximately 250 kilometres north of Riyadh. The report stated that these caves could be developed without any damage to the environment and could accommodate as many as one thousand visitors per day.
The As Sulb Karst plateau is the area with the highest-known number of limestone caves in Saudi Arabia. Some of these are horizontal passages up to several hundred metres in length while others are horizontal and have depths of up to 15 metres.
Other locations that have the potential to be developed for Saudi's caving industry include the Dharb al Najim Pit near Majma’ah where some caves have a depth of 100 metres, and the water-filled caverns near the city of Al-Kharj, an area that has already drawn attention from cave-divers.
Saudi’s caves are home to bats, rock doves, owls, wolves, foxes and more and many have been the site of various archaeological finds including human skulls and what is believed to be Neolithic artefacts.