This cave is not the only attraction is this valley, it also contains several ancient stelae around the place called Nahr-al-Kalb.
Caverns sculpted by water and time.
Few caverns in the world approach the astounding wealth or the extent of those of Jeita. In these caves and galleries, known to man since Paleolithic times, the action of water has created cathedral-like vaults beneath the wooded hills of Mount Lebanon.
The modern discovery of the underground river of Jeita dates to 1836 and is attributed to Reverend William Thomson, an American missionary who ventured some 50 metres into the cave. Reaching the underground river, he fired a shot from his gun and the resulting echoes convinced him that he had found a cavern of major importance.
In 1873 W.J. Maxwell and H.G. Huxley, engineers with the Beirut Water Company, and their friend Reverend Daniel Bliss, president of the Syrian Protestant College (later the American University of Beirut) explored these caverns. In two expeditions carried out in 1873 and 1874 they penetrated 1,060 metres into the grotto-principal source of the Nahr el-Kalb that supplies Beirut with water. They were finally stopped by "Hell's Rapids", where the river flows in torrents over razor sharp rocks.
Like explorers everywhere, Dr. Bliss, Mr. Maxwell and the other engineers could not resist recording their names and the year on "Maxwell's Column", a great limestone pillar some 625 metres from the entrance.
About 200 metres further on, in the so-called "Pantheon', they wrote their names and details of the expedition on paper, sealed it in a bottle and placed it on top of a stalagmite. The action of the lime- impregnated water has since covered the bottle with a thin white film, permanently fixing it to the stone. Between 1892 and 1940 further expeditions were carried out, mostly by English, American or French explorers. These efforts brought them to a depth of 1,750 metres.
Since the 1940's, Lebanese explorers, notably the members of the Speleo-Club of Lebanon founded by the first Lebanese speleologist Lionel Ghorra, have pushed even deeper into the Jeita grotto. Their methodical exploration revealed the great underground system of the upper and lower galleries which is now known to a depth approaching 9 kilometres.
The upper galleries, discovered in August 1958 by Lebanese speleologists, required a hazardous climb to 650 metres above the entrance of the underground river. Altogether, 2,130 metres of this gallery have been explored.
Flora and fauna
The temperature in the caves is about 16°C all year round.
There is no public transport to Je'ita, but you can take the journey in three easy steps. First take bus number 6 from Cola or any bus from Dora going north along the coast (Tripolis, Bcharré, Byblos, etc.) for around LL 1500 - 3000. Tell the driver you want to get off at the Je'ita junction (mafraq al-je'ita). The ride takes between half and one and a half hours depending on traffic. At the junction take a service taxi up to the roundabout (again mafraq al-je'ita) which is a ten minute ride only and which costs LL 2000 per person, but take a lengthy waiting period into account as there are few passengers. From the roundabout you have to walk the only street downhill into the valley for another 30 minutes. It's a very pleasant walk through beautiful nature with hardly any traffic. The street ends at the parking lot of the grotto.
Of course, you can get to Jeita by car. A paid parking area is provided.
Open Tuesday through Thursday from 9 am to 6 pm and Friday through Sunday from 9 am to 7 pm. Closed on Mondays, unless it is a national holiday.
During the civil war, the site was used by the army and is still highly protected. The tickets you have bought double as access cards and are inserted at the entry gates of the upper and lower galleries and for the cable car. Also keep them handy for the train and the theater.
A parking ticket is needed to exit the park.
Photography is absolutely prohibited inside the caves, you must leave cameras and smartphones at the entrance. (free lockers)
Jeita is split into two parts: the upper grotto and the lower grotto. In the upper grotto you will get around on foot but in the lower grotto you have to go by boat because there is a lake inside.
From the entry you can take a short ride up the mountain in one of four Austrian cable cars. If you prefer land transportation, a Disney-like "train" pulled by a small replica of a steam engine makes regular runs up and down the hill between the parking area and the upper galleries.
Be careful, the carved stones are directly on the road which is narrow, and the local drivers may go fast.
Plan on about two hours for the tour, which includes a boat ride through the lower galleries, the visit to the upper galleries on foot and a film presentation.
In summer you can visit both the upper and lower galleries while enjoying the refreshingly cool temperature inside the caves. The lower section is sometimes closed in winter when the water level is high, but the extensive upper galleries are open all year.
This part of the cavern takes you to a beautiful underworld millions of years in the making. Both the 600 metre boat trip on a subterranean lake is only a sampling of the system that has been explored for almost 6,910 metres.
The first impression is the sound of rushing water and a sensation of clean cold. But the roar of the waterfall at the entrance gives way to profound silence as you glide deeper into the cave. An effective new lighting system illuminates expert rock climbers-and marvel at the columns and sculptures fashioned by those great architects-water and time.
The Upper Galleries
The approach to these dry galleries through a 120 metre long concrete tunnel does little to prepare you for the surprising world beyond. Formed several million years before the lower caverns, this section shows what the entire cave system was like before geological conditions displaced the subterranean river to its present level.
For 650 metres you wind your way through different levels of the caverns, contemplating the flowing stone draperies and other formations. Perhaps the most dramatic sight is the yawning canyons and sink holes, some seen at a drop of over a hundred metres.
There are some souvenir shops selling Lebanese handicrafts.
The facility has several restaurants, snack bars and restrooms.
There is no possibility to stay over night in the caves but Beirut is only 18km away.
Probably you're just coming here on a day-trip from Beirut.