© 2005 by John and Susy Pint - Photos by J. Pint unless otherwise credited
Updated September, 2013
this fine cave was found by Lars Bjurstrom
and Andrea Chow back in January of
2001 exactly while Mahmoud Alshanti and I were perched on top of a
supposedly searching for good caves...
The Gecko's Lair.
...The first room in
the cave had five geckos
on the ceiling, one of which turned out to be an ideal photographers’
We believe it is Ptyodactylus hasselquistii. This gecko was observing
us strange invaders from a wide, thin, translucent stalactite
and stayed there for at least an hour while each of us took turns
it from every possible angle… and all we had to do was tap it on the
tail to get it to move up or down. That’s where the name Gecko Cave
but in Arabic it eventually became known as Kahf Al Rootoobah, which
Steamy Cave and is also quite appropriate as you’ll see below.
was only late in May of 2002 that we were able to return to Gecko Cave
and photograph its many interesting features. In the month of May,
temperature soars right up to the highest number reached by most
and the success of our mission depended on finding a refuge for our
equipment and drivers while we went about our work.
first choice was Abu Marwah, where we hoped to find shade at the bottom
steep walls. Alas, before we were halfway down the slope we felt we
entering a hellhole which was hotter than the surface! Next, we went to
Cave, figuring its 24 degrees (76 F) would seem cool on a day like
alas again, the high humidity in the air wafting out of the cave was
steam my glasses and get me dripping wet in two minutes. “Forget it,”
said and drove off with no goal in mind, just stopping at every hole we
reaching out a hand to feel for blessed cool air.
like in the movies, we were saved at the very last moment. Exactly as
upon us, we drove up to a very large depression. This hole had a long,
sandy slope leading down into a wide, beautifully lit room which looked
welcoming and comfortable. Behind what immediately became our dining
found several rooms with flat, sandy floors, 45% humidity and a cool 21
C (70 F). Some were partially lit, others were in total darkness and
perfect for sleeping.
coordinates, we discovered we had chosen for our refuge, B31 Cave,
which is only
three kms away from Gecko.
next morning we drove off to Gecko Cave, whose entrance is a low,
slot at one end of a rather
Mahmoud squeezing out of the tortuous entrance passage.
special characteristics of Gecko cave are its smooth, soft, sandy floor
rather low roof, forcing you to crawl on hands and knees or at least
bent-over in a Groucho Crouch in order to get anywhere. Unfortunately,
the few places in Gecko cave that doesn’t have a
soft, sandy floor, is
the entrance passage, which is maliciously paved with sharp, broken
has a ceiling so low that only a long belly crawl will get you inside.
course, if you happen to have a ton of equipment with you, each piece
pushed or pulled through that same long slot. Now, we not only had to
our cave packs, survey and photography gear (including tripods and
lanterns), but also various other items like GPS, satellite phone,
etc. which could not be left sitting in a car which would quickly be
an oven while we were inside the cave.
all that gear under that hot sun and through the tortuous entrance
all of us in such a sweat that we had to spend nearly a half hour
cave’s first room, just panting and cooling down...
...Then we began
taking compass readings both forward and back (Every time we have run
problem turning our data into a map, it’s always been due to a bad
reading). Once again, we saved lots of time by using our Disto laser to
measurements up, down, left, right and forward.
This shot proves there is no danger of going hungry in Gecko Cave.
Here is just one of many displays of stalactites of many sizes and shapes, some with delicate red bands...
course, surveying forced us to peek into previously overlooked corners
cave and we discovered (a) a place where we could actually stand up (!!) ....
and (b) a room with two ceiling holes which eerily resemble the
tooth-encircled black maws of ferocious sharks.
And here we present the sad saga of a doomed caver, fatally obsessed by the mystery of THE GREAT WHITE CAVE SHARK
IN A TURKISH BATH
|50 meters into the
cave, you hook a right and head SW. It’s another low belly-crawl
followed by a squeeze into a wide room, stretching off both left and
Here you can see the cave’s most impressive displays of stalactites,
stalagmites, columns and flowstone, but there was something weird about
place… in a matter of minutes I lost all my enthusiasm for exploration
could barely muster attention for the surveying. Listless, I dragged my
over to a piece of flagging tape that had been hanging in this room for
and a half.
that flagging tape looked very strange indeed. Down both sides of it
sliding numerous drops of water which then dripped off the end to the
had created artificial stalactites! Even stranger, quite a
few stalactites in the room are dripping, but the source
appears to be the humidity in the air, not water from outside the cave.
Even stranger, quite a few stalactites in the room are dripping, but the source appears to be the humidity in the air, not water from outside the cave.
The hygrometer showed the humidity of this area to be a whopping 97%. It was a natural steam bath and I am sure lots of Turkish tourists will especially enjoy a visit to Gecko Cave, which Mahmoud decided to call Kahf al Rootoobah for its humidity and also, perhaps, because there was nary a gecko to be seen on either of the days we worked in the cave.
me it was a great relief to leave that sticky zone and crawl back into
“normal” part of the cave with its pleasant 66-69% humidity. In fact,
next day I was quite content to photograph every other corner of the
the Steam Bath, with the help of Said, while Mahmoud and Abdulrahman
wrote up a
geological description of the cave, which required their return to this
energy-draining area. During the course of their studies,
they came across what seems to be a beetle
larva... wandering awfully far from the entrance. Here, too, was where
Mahmoud's legs refused to follow him out of a tight passage, resulting
painful sprain, which eventually resulted in a knee operation for
During the course of their studies, they came across what seems to be a beetle larva... wandering awfully far from the entrance. Here, too, was where one of Mahmoud's legs refused to follow him out of a tight passage, resulting in a painful sprain, which eventually resulted in a knee operation for Mahmoud.
|This is the Coral Room (so named
because it's where those nasty sharks hang out). Here we held some long
|..Resulting in this picture titled :
THE CAVE PHOTOGRAPHER'S ASSISTANT
After hours of dragging equipment around, unpacking it, posing for several eternities, repacking the gear and then dragging everything to a new spot, you'd feel like this too!
|And now it's back out into the
50-degree Centigrade heat!
might imagine from my comments that only a Turkish midget would feel at
a cave like this, but in reality, it’s quite a fascinating place and
appeal to adventurous souls. You'll find this one on our list of Caves
Potential for Ecotourism.