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Jeita Grotto, Lebanon

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While in Lebanon, world travelers should be sure to visit the caverns of the Jeita Grotto. These are considered the world's most beautiful caverns and being located just 20 km north of Beirut, they are within an easy day's excursion of the city.

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The caverns, whose haunting stalagmites and stalactites seem to project an air of serenity and supernatural mystery, are made up of both higher and lower galleries.

Our normally chatty group fell silent as we gaped in awe at the beauty of the natural creations before us. Each of us could see shapes and characters in the various formations of the Jeita Grotto. Was that a woman's head over yonder? Look at this one, doesn't that look like a little mouse? What those formations really look like is limited only by your imagination.

Note that, in order to reach the lower caverns, you have to travel by boat over a subterranean lake. The temperature of the water here is a cool (literally) 14 degrees Centigrade. If you travel there in the winter, don't be surprised to find the lower galleries closed.

The upper gallery is somewhat warmer at 18 degrees and you can visit the pillars and formations all year long. You will need to reach them by aerial tramway however, but the ride itself just adds to the fun!

The Jeita grotto was discovered in 1836 but between 1874 and 1940 expeditions by English, American and French explorers dug deeper into the caves. That digging wasn't an easy task, however, and it took several years to carry out the work. Nowadays, 6,200 meters have been penetrated, ending in an underground river. The Dog River (Har el Kalb) is the one that rises in this cavern.

When you see the forlorn beauty of the caverns here at Jeita grotto, it's not surprising to learn that they have been nominated as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. They deserve to be included on that list.

San Francisco world travelers can leave from SFO and fly to Istanbul, where they will change plane for the two hour flight to Beirut, Lebanon. Deals can be found online at www.kayak.com

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See the slideshow and video on the left-hand side for more on this story.

For more Lebanon articles:

See an article on one of Lebanon's most historic cities with its colossal ruins: Lebanon: Baalbeck, City of the Gods

See here for an article on helping at the Lebanese charity event for hearing-impaired people (including children) with the ALO Foundation: 'So Lebanon Can Hear'.

For a great place to stay while in Beirut, check out this review of the Moevenpick Hotel by National Hotels Examiner, Ramsey Qubein: Room Report: Moevenpick Hotel and Resort Beirut, Lebanon

Whilst in Beirut, be sure to check out the beautiful National Museum

See other highlights from this week in the "Suggested by the Author" section below.

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