Sof Omar Cave


Yet another mysterious site takes you 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 fascinated with one of the most spectacular and extensive underground caverns in the world: the Sof Omar cave system, an extraordinary natural phenomenon of Ethiopia’s secrets. They are reputedly the largest cave system in Africa with up to 16km of tunnels have been explored and have been carved out of the limestone rock by the web of River.

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 religious history of over thousand of year, 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.