Al Hoota Cave, Oman
Estimated to be over 2 million years old, Al Hoota Cave is located at the foot of Jebel 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 kilometers, of which just 500 meters is accessible to the general public. Al Hoota Cave contains a rich ecosystem that includes 4 lakes. 3 are small and located in the north of the cave, the fourth is the accessible central lake which is estimated to hold about 30,000 m3 of water, is 800 meters long and 10 meters width, with a maximum depth of 15 meters.
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.
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 10 mm 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. The columns and curtains here have been shaped over millions of years.