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One of the most spectacular and extensive underground caverns in the world: the Sof Omar cave system, an extraordinary natural phenomenon of breathtaking beauty, is to be found at 120 kilometers (74 miles) eastward from Gobba, in Bale, in a low valley filled with thorn trees and weird funnels of termite hills.

Yet another mysterious site takes visitors from Gobba, in Bale, for 120 kilometers (74 miles) eastward through a low valley filled with thorn trees and weird funnels of termite hills. The visitors are sure to be awestruck with one of the most spectacular and extensive underground caverns in the world: the Sof Omar cave system, an extraordinary natural phenomenon of breathtaking beauty. The caverns are formed by the Web River, which vanishes into this giant underground world with its arched portals, high, eroded ceilings, and deep, vaulted echoing chambers.

The caves currently constitute an important Islamic shrines named after the saintly Sheikh Sof Omar, who is said to have taken refuge here many centuries ago. The site has a religious history of thousands of years, which predates the arrival of the Muslims in Bale.

The caves are where nature has worked wonders of architecture, where one can see soaring pillars of stone twenty meters (66 feet) high, flying buttresses, fluted archways, and tall airy vaults. Finally, the river itself is reached, sunless sea flowing through a deep gorge.

The large central hall of Sof Omar, the "Chamber of Columns" (so named after the colossal limestone pillars that are its dominant feature) is one of the highlights of the cave system.

Torches and, of course, a map are a must when on a visit to the Sof Omar caves. Maps are provided by the Ethiopian Tourism Enterprise. Local guides also carry a copy of the map.

Bats (no trouble to the visitor), fish, and crustaceans are the only living creatures inhabiting the caves. There are crocodiles in the nearby river, but they seem to shun the caves themselves' fortunately! The countryside around the caves has an abundance of dik-dik and kudu, serval cat, rock hyrax, giant tortoises, snakes, lizards, and more than fifty species of birds.

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