Al Hotta Cave

Al Hoti Cave - Al Fallah - Al Hota Cave - Al-Hoota Cave


Useful Information

Location: Central Hajar Mountains, Jabal Akhdar, Northern Oman. Wilayat of Al Hamra in the Dhakhiliya region. 140km southwest of Muscat.
Open: All year Sat-Thu 9-13, 14-17:15, Fri 9-12, 14-17:15.
Reservation is required.
[2011]
Fee: [2006]
Classification:  Karst cave.
Light: electric.
Dimension: L=5,000m.
Guided tours: D=60min, V=75,000/a [2007], St=225.
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography: Sanir Hanna, Mohamed al-Belushi (1996): Caves of Oman, SQU 1996, pp. 49-61.
Peter J. Ochs (2000): Maverick Guide to Oman, 2nd ed. 2000, pp. 277-78.
Rudolf Pavuza, Robert Seemann, Karl Mais (1998): The Hoti-Cave-System in the Jabal Akhdar (Oman), Die Hohle, 49(2), 33-41, 1998. (Deutsch - German)
Christa Frank (1998): Gastropoden aus dem Hoti-Hohlensystem (Oman), Die Hohle, 49(2), 42-49, 1998. (Deutsch - German)
Address: Al Hoota Cave Project, Promo Oman, Al Ghobra, 18 November Street, Villa 13, PO Box 1115, PC :130, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman, Tel: +968-244-900-60, Fax: +968-244-900-134. E-mail: contact
Reservations: daily 8-16:30, Tel: +968-9240-4444. E-mail: contact
Last update:$Date: 2013/04/25 23:02:47 $

History

 
1995start of search for potential show caves by the Oman Government.
MAR-2005cave scheduled to be opened to the public.
JUL-2006revised inauguration date.
18-DEC-2006cave opened to the public.

Description

Al Hoti Cave comprises an underground cavern and subterranean lake system. Al Hoti Cave is a 2.7km tunnel which runs in a north-south direction through the Hajar Mountains. There are many offshoots to the main tunnel, but so far, only approximately 5km have been charted by experienced cavers. There are two entries to Al Hoti Cave: the Al Fallah entrance, which is taken through a large gaping entrance below a cliff overhang; or the Al Hota entrance which is strictly for experienced cavers. The latter entry must not be undertaken without ropes, safety equipment and a guide as it involves fairly perilous scrambles down slippery rock faces.

Within the Hoti Cave exists an subterranean lake which is home to unusual species of aquatic animals such as blind fish which sense their way around the lake with feelers. The main lake within the cave system is around 800m long, but please do not be tempted to swim in the waters and disturb the delicate eco-system.

The main chamber of Al Hoti Cave is around the size of the Al Bustan Palace Hotel's ballroom and contains some magnificent cave formations, stalactites, stalagmites, and columns which have evolved over millions of years. These beautiful structures are delicately coloured in shades of pink, yellow, gold, beige and grey.


Text by Tony Oldham (2004). With kind permission.

Al Hotta Cave is hard to find on the internet. The reason is simple: we use the English name, which is a transcription of the original Arabic name. Unfortuntely there seem to be several different transcriptions. So far the spelling Al Hoti was common, but the company which does the marketing for the new show cave, decided to use Al Hotta.

Al Hotta Cave is developed with a walkway with iron railings, illuminated by coloured electric lights. There is a cave train with a capacity of 36 passengers, which brings visitors from the entrance into the cave. The Visitor Centre was built in front of the cave, a two storey Reinforced Carbon-Carbon (RCC) structure. It houses the ticket counter, a restaurant, a souvenir shop, a geological museum, and the station for the train.

The train actually does not work very well. The Austrian company which produced it seems to have underestimated the climatic difficulties and so regular failures resulted in a complete shutdown of the train. So for most of the first three years, the visitors had to walk into the cave. This failure is rather astounding, as Austrian made cable cars are known to work very well under the most extreme conditions all over the world. However, it seems the management has decided that it is not possible to repair the existing train and in 2009 Oman's Tourism Ministry has invited international companies to submit bids for a contract to supply and install a new electrical train.

The cave lake is filled with fresh water by the rare desert rains. This makes the cave a sort of underground wadi, which means it is due to flooding and rather dangerous. Weather conditions are checked by the guide. The 800m long lake of 23°C warm water contains blind cave fish (Garra barreimiae).

Access to the cave is restricted to 750 visitors per day, at least in the first time. This means if 750 visitors are reached the cave will be closed for that day. The reason are the fragile ecosystem and the fragile speleothems in the cave. The capacity of the cave was studied carefully and this ist the limitation for sustainable management of the cave. There are different monitoring programs going on, which may lead to rapid intervention if the number of visitor is still too high. On the other hand there may also be an increase of visitors if the cave environment prooves to be stable enough.


See also


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