Ba’atara Waterfall, Lebanon
Located in the northern part of Lebanon, near the town of Tannourine, Baatara gorge waterfall was discovered recently – in 1952, thanks to the efforts of an entomologist and speleologist from France – Henri Coiffait.
A unique creation of nature, formed in the limestone chasm about one hundred and sixty million years ago, is also known as “Three Bridge Chasm”. The second, figurative name assigned to Baatara because of its unusual “structure”: the stream falling from a height of two hundred and twenty-five meters, passes through the cave, which consists of three overhanging each other natural bridges.
Scientists found out where the water goes only in the eighties, when they guessed to paint Baatara and “saw” it near the village of Mgharet al-Ghauagir.
The cave itself was formed even earlier than the waterfall, in the Jurassic period of the Mesozoic era. Today it is still forming, being deformed both by the Ba’atara and by the natural change of seasons (e.g. spring floods caused by the rapid melting of the snows). The first of the three was the uppermost bridge. The lower “cofferdams” were formed later, when the soil, subject to erosion, began to collapse.
The Baatar Falls are difficult to see from afar. It is hidden behind such lush vegetation that to observe it you have to get close to the water. The best view of Baatar is from one of the three cave bridges. There is a free entrance to the waterfall, which follows inconspicuous steps that merge with the landscape. Not far from the mountains there is a place to park your car.
Baatara gorge waterfall – VIDEO
Baatara waterfall on the map. Coordinates: 34°10′ 35°52′
Baatara gorge waterfall – PHOTO
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Baatara Falls – a waterfall falling into an abyss of three bridges
The Balaa gorge waterfall in Lebanon was discovered in 1952 by the French bio-heliologist Henri Coiffait.
The waterfall has several other names: Ballouh Baatura, the Balaa Sinkhole (Ballou Balaa in Arabic), Baatara Sinkhole. The waterfall falls from a height of 255 meters into a huge limestone cave from the Jurassic period.
It is located on the Mountain Trail in Lebanon and the chasm into which it falls is known as Three Bridge Chasm. It owes its name to the fact that as it falls into the valley, the stream passes over three natural bridges, each overhanging the other.
The waterfall reaches its power when the snow begins to melt and the water cascades into the abyss. In the 1980s, scientists stained the water and it eventually emerges near the village of Mgharet al-Ghaouaghir.
The waterfall is one of the most remarkable geological formations on the planet. Consideration was given to equipping it with protective devices and pulling a rope or other similar climbing devices to serve the athletes. Fortunately, this idea was rejected, as the authorities felt that the installation of such equipment would disturb the incomparable beauty of the site.
It is strange that the speleologist Henry Coifé, who made the waterfall a property of the masses, discovered it only in the 20th century, although it (the waterfall) is located near the small village of Balaa. Perhaps this was because the cave was hidden by a meadow and even if you go straight to it, you may not notice what lurks in the wilds. Now every year, local speleologists explore it, reaching all the way to the bottom. The cave appeared on the map 30 years after its discovery.
The chain of limestone superstructures at the top of the cave is more than 160 million years old. The formation is vital to the local ecosystem: this is where the main source of fresh water comes from. For more than a thousand years, water from the creek has slowly washed over the limestone.
After the appearance of the upper bridge, it was long destroyed by vertical and circular erosion, which, combined with a series of collapses, created the middle and lower bridges.
Even today, the formation of the cave is not complete-and it will not be as long as the water flows. The most destructive factor for the cave is the icing during the winter months. Melting ice causes fractures in the cave’s surface, resulting in chipping of the cave’s surface.
Nothing marks the location of the chasm and the waterfall except for the signpost, which clearly informs visitors not to approach close to the slippery edge of the cave under any circumstances. A fall in almost all cases ends in death. In addition, because of the danger of collapse, it is forbidden to walk on the middle bridge with extra weight.
One can only guess how long this geological wonder stood before erosion destroyed it. But throughout time, the outstanding waterfall and cave remain something that invariably delights Lebanese and visitors to the country.