requires special permission to visit
One of the largest underground caves in the world, Majlis Al Jinn is a natural wonder located on the Salmah Plateau. In 2007, Austrian sky diver Felix Baumgartner based jumped into the cave, a distance of about 120 metres. Exploring this cave requires a special permission from the Ministry of Tourism Oman.
Majlis al Jinn is the second largest cave chamber in the world by surface area. The base of the cave is 624,000 square feet, the size of nearly 11 football fields. However the only way to get in is through one of three tiny openings at the top, all of which have been formed over time as the accumulation of rainwater dissolved the limestone covering.
This cave chamber, located 60 miles from Muscat, was discovered by Americans Don Davidson Jr. and his wife Cheryl Jones in 1983. They noticed the strange holes in the ground on aerial photographs, and eventually made the journey out via helicopter. When they looked down into the small openings, they saw the sandy floor below – over 500 feet down. Just days later, they rappelled down for the first time.
In an attempt to find an appropriate name for the chamber, they asked the Omanis in the surrounding area if they had a local name for it, to which the response was no. They did, however, mention that they believed that the cave was filled with genies, which are prevalent in Omani mythology and the Quran. In Arabic, the word for “genie” is “al-Jinn”, so hence, the American explorers named the cave is “Majlis al Jinn. “Majlis” means “meeting place,” making the cave name, “the meeting place of the genies.”
Now accessible by four wheel drive automobiles, this cave room has become a hot spot for abseilers and BASE jumpers. A small hole at the top sheds a beam of light into the vast base. Strangely, the bottom of this chamber appears to be a sort of graveyard for goats (who presumably fell in), snakes, and birds – their bones littering the floor.