Estimated to be over 2 million years old, Al Hoota Cave is located at the foot of Jabal Shams, Oman’s epic mountain. It is the first and only show cave in the Arabian Peninsula with a total length of around 4.5 kilometres, of which just 500 metres is accessible to the general public.
Al Hoota Cave contains a rich ecosystem that includes four lakes. Three are small and located in the north of the cave, the other is the accessible central lake. It is estimated that the lake holds about 30,000 m³ of water, is 800 metres long and 10 in width, with a maximum depth of
15 metres. It is here that one can see the rare blind fish – Garra Barreimiae or more commonly known to us as Bu Naseh and his friends. We are exceptionally lucky to have many other animal species living in the cave including bats (Rhinopoma Muscatellum), arthropods, mollusks, spiders, snails and water beetles.
A sophisticated lighting system allows the guides to switch lights on and off as the tour proceeds through the cave. This minimises the disturbance of cave dwelling animals and avoids the formation of algae. For the same reason all lights are switched off when tours are not taking place.
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. It all starts when rainwater dissolves carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or soil, producing 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 Al Hoota 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 have been shaped over millions of years.