In the background, the waterfall comes falling through the hole.
There’s absolutely nothing on this sinkhole. It does appear in some tourist guides on Lebanon, but not all, and even my own hubbie has never been there. And he’s not the stay-at-home type.
This is how it appears from the distance; a massive opening.
You don’t really see anything of the sinkhole until you’re right at the end of the stream. And then it is advisable not to look any further. So from above, you cannot really form a good impression of the enormous dimensions of this thing. You have to walk around it, enter a small valley, and then the sinkhole appears in its entity. The hole has 3 natural bridges.
The three natural bridges (top one is a bit dififult to see here).
I am telling you, I’ve seen natural phenomena in other places in the world, like in France and the US, far less impressive than this one, and there I’ve had to shuffle my way to the entrance surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of tourists. And then you get stuck behind a fence, and you’re not really allowed to get any further.
A couple of people were preparing to rope themselves down the cliff. Listening to the instructions from one of them, I had the impressions that this was their very first ‘abseil’ experience ever. With a hole some 250 meters deep under you, this could not be but interesting, and so we hung around for a while. Three Syrians laborers thought the same, and from the opposite cliff they watched the entire process in absolute silence.
Did he fall yet?
I had the place virtually to myself. There were maybe some 10 other people, including the group of climbers. And here you can walk all the way to the edge, without having to stand in line and without having to pay $10 (like in Jeita). And the tweeting birds in Balaa are for real (unlike the taped versions in Jeita) .
All the way to the edge. The thing is really deep.
Apparently the hole was ‘colored’ in 1985 by the Lebanese Speleo Club. I assume they mean they dyed the water in order to find out where the water flow went. The Speleo club explains the reason as follows; ‘in order to detect any water loss from the underground river’.
I must have mentioned this before, but the geology in this place is absolutely mind-boggling. It’s mainly karst, a landscape by the dissolution of limestone. So holes and caves are a natural occurrence here, but the size of the Balaa sinkhole is quite unusual..
Next project: I'd like to get to the bottom of this hole. Literally. Anyone any ideas?