Explore the iconic Al Hoota Caves in Oman

Estimated to be over 2 million years old, the Al Hoota Cave is one of Oman’s most popular natural tourist attractions. Located off route 21 between Nizwa and Bahla at the foot of Oman’s epic mountain Jabal Shams, just 2 hours drive from Muscat, it is the first and only cave in the Arabian Peninsula which is open to visitors. With a total length of around 4.5 kilometres, around 500 metres of the cave is accessible to the general public.

The one hour guided tour starts from the Visitor’s Centre with a short ride in an electric train that carries passengers up to the cave entrance. Once inside the cave, it’s a feast for the eyes as you walk on the pathway and witness an enormous subterranean cavern filled with stalactites, stalagmites and colourful solid rock columns. Don’t miss the popular lion’s head, the cat, the old man and countless other intriguing shapes and an 800m long underground lake that is home to the rare blind fish – Garra Barreimiae and many other animal species like bats, arthropods, mollusks, spiders, snails and water beetles.

While the Al Hoota Cave is made of stone, it was created by water. Like many other caves in Oman, the Al Hoota Cave system was formed by the dissolution of limestone by acidic water. When rainwater dissolves carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or soil, it produces a dilute carbonic acid that dissolves the limestone as it runs over it, thus forming the cave. Every 100 years, the water dissolves through 10mm of rock – so it takes a long time to create something as spectacular as the Al Hoota Cave! Fascinating features such as stalagmites, stalactites and of course the magnificent lion of the cave are formed by mineral deposits as water drips into or moves through the cave system. Some of the columns and curtains you will see in the cave have been shaped over millions of years.

Post the tour; also visit the geological exhibition for an interesting insight into the geology of Oman and an in-depth study on how these caves were formed. Owing to its delicate ecosystem, a maximum of only 750 people are allowed to visit the caves on a day, hence it is ideal to do prior booking. The cave is open to visitors every Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 6pm.

You could combine your trip with a visit to Nizwa to experience the magnificent Fort and Friday market or see the traditional architecture of Al Hamra and the beautiful atmosphere of Misfit al Abryeen. You could stroll through Wadi Tanuf or do the rim walk at Jebel Shams before lunch at Al Hoota followed by an afternoon visit to the cave.

You might also like

Transport

Soon record your feedback on tablets about meals on premium trains

According to a senior railways official, passenger travelling on premium trains will soon be able to rate the meals served on a tablet. The categories will be ‘good, bad or

Trends

Portugal- a hot trending holiday destination for youngsters

Sun and sea, radical sports, natural parks, festivals and concerts – there’s a bit of everything in Portugal for a great holiday for youngsters. The white sandy beaches are full

Aviation

Qatar Airways plans to start airline in India

Qatar Airways has plans to launch an airline in India with at least 100 planes, the airline’s chief executive Akbar Al Baker said. Addressing a press meet in Toulouse, France,