Few people have heard of the Sof Omar Caves but they are worth knowing. The caves are one of National Geographic’s top 10 sacred caves. They are known for their many pillars, particularly in the ‘Chamber of Columns’.
Sof Omar Caves are a labyrinth of caves stretching approximately 15 km in the Bale Mountains. It is the longest cave system in Ethiopia and some sources claim the longest system of caves in Africa. It is located to the east to the Robe, in the Bale Zone of the Oromia Region in south-eastern Ethiopia, through which the Weyib River (Gestro River) flows.
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The Sof Omar has 42 entrances, but generally, only four can be used for entrance. The cave is formed along a network of joints: one running north to south and the other east to west. This zig-zag of passages runs in an approximately south-easterly direction. The Weyib River, which sources from the Bale Mountains National Park, also penetrate the caves year round.
Inside the cave tributes, there are bats and fish, and wildlife about in village – the dik dik, kudu, several cats, rock hyrax, giant tortoise, snake, lizard, as well as more than fifty species of birds.
The caves do not only have majestic architecture but an equally rich religious history. Sof Omer Caves are an important Islamic Shrine named after the saintly Sheikh Sof Omar who took refuge here many centuries ago. The caves are also sacred to local Oromo traditional religion. Many pictures show worshipers praying in the caves.
Check out these magnificent pictures of the caves below: