ESP 2023-09 Dara Expedition for Exploration and Protection, Lebanon

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The Deep 23 expedition comprised a team totalling 16 cavers from Lebanon, Canada, USA, Armenia, Poland and United Kingdom. The team was based in Broumana, north Beirut in Lebanon.

The DEEP23 expedition took place from mid-August through to early September of 2023.

The expedition targeted Fouar Dara Sinkhole, the deepest cave in Lebanon (depth estimated between 612 and 622 m) located within the eastern Mediterranean coastal mountain range. The cave is cold (6-7ÂșC), wet, and physically demanding.

The expedition had two main objectives:

  • To protect Dara Sinkhole, which is under threat from quarrying and construction of new roads and houses, through documentation, surveying, detailed inventory of the cave’s biology, collecting samples of calcite speleotherms, photos and filming.
  • Support and work together with the local caving community, both financially and through education and improved connections with international cavers. All equipment used and in good condition was left with the local caving community which is experiencing severe financial difficulties due to the dire economic crisis in Lebanon.

The rigging of Fouar Dara began on 10 August 2023 by the Lebanese cavers, before the overseas cavers arrived on 18 or 19 August 2023.

Exploration in Dara remains a challenge. The 120m pitch near the entrance, the distance and nature of the cave with the amount of equipment required, means that any expedition is a significant undertaking. Future expeditions to Lebanon will depend on the political situation within the country and the surrounding area.

Read the full report.