Why Does Lebanon's Oldest Underground Club Meet in a Stone-Age Grotto? | Nat Geo Traveller India

Why Does Lebanon’s Oldest Underground Club Meet in a Stone-Age Grotto?

Some of the grotto’s caves date back millions of years; others are still being formed.  
Jeita Grotto Lebanon
Lebanon’s oldest caving club, Spéléo Club du Liban, makes its way into the depths of Jeita Grotto each weekend. Photo courtesy Mapas – Lebanon

Each weekend, members of the Spéléo Club du Liban navigate the inky waters inside Jeita Grotto, a massive subterranean cave system 40 minutes from Beirut in Lebanon. The club, founded in 1951, is dedicated to speleology (the scientific study of caves) and has been instrumental in mapping routes, tracking geology, and protecting the fascinating cave system.

Jeita is one of Lebanon’s biggest tourist draws, famed for its cathedral-like caves, ethereal underwater rivers, and unusual limestone formations. But what sets this cave apart, as the video says, is that it’s alive: Some of its stalagmites and stalactites date back to the Stone Age, but others are still growing, every single day.

Watch this video to see parts of the cave that are still closed to the public, and for a glimpse of what a weekend with the Spéléo Club is like.

The Guide

Jeita Grotto is 18km/40min from Beirut (taxis $25/₹1,700). Entry is allowed into the Upper and Lower Grottos. For adults $12/ ₹800, children $7/₹470 (www.jeitagrotto.com; open Tues-Sun, 9a.m.-5p.m.). A 90-min tour includes a boat ride on the lower cave’s underground river (closed in winter). The grotto is cool (16° C), so take a light jacket. Photography is not allowed.

  • Fabiola Monteiro was formerly a member of National Geographic Traveller India's digital team. Since then, her words have featured in The Hindu, Mint Lounge, Roads & Kingdoms, The Goya Journal, and Condé Nast Traveller India. She tweets as @thefabmonteiro and is on Instagram @fabiolamonteiro.

Psst. Want a weekly dose of travel inspiration in your inbox?