The Stalactite Cave Nature Reserve

October 10th 2010

Soreq Stalactite Caves

Near the town of Beit Shemesh in Central Israel lies the Soreq Stalactite Cave, Israel’s answer to the Luray Caverns. In May 1968, the cave was discovered accidentally when workers were detonating explosives to open a nearby quarry. The cave measures 200 feet wide, 260 feet long, and 50 feet high.

A tour of the caves led by an English-speaking guide is available and generally takes place in the morning, so plan this activity for the earlier part of the day. Allow 45 minutes for the tour itself. There is also a performance available on the site for visitors.

Considered a relatively small cavern, inside you’ll find dense formations of stalagmites and stalactites to take in. As you may recall from Middle School science class, stalagmites rise from the floor of a cave and stalactites hang down from the ceiling. They are generally composed of naturally-occurring minerals. If a stalagmite and a stalactite grow long enough, they might combine to make a column. Ask your tour guide to point out the formation known as Romeo and Juliet; a stalactite and a stalagmite that are very, very close but will never meet.

Other formations worth noting include those whose general shapes are recognizable and appear similar to clusters of grapes, sheets of cloth, shelves and coral. Where heat and humidity conditions are ideal, the stalactites and stalagmites continue to develop in this cave, so there’s always something new to see. Winter is an ideal time to visit the Soreq Stalactite Cave because as drops of rainwater enter the cave and plop to the floor, they add a somewhat otherworldly effect.

Although the Israel Nature and Parks Authority rates the site as easy for most walkers, please be aware that there are 150 steps from the parking lot to the entrance to the cave. Allow extra time if steps are challenging for anyone in your tour group. There are hand railings and benches along the way in case you need extra support or a brief rest. In general, it should take about 10 minutes to make the full descent. The tour of the cave is not suitable for wheelchairs and strollers are not permitted in the cave.