Friday, May 7, 2021

Myth Busting: What's inside the Musfur Sinkhole?!

You might have heard about a highly-accessible natural wonder just 40-45 kilometers off Doha called Musfur Sinkhole. Here is some more information about this destination that you may want to know.

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1. What is the Musfur Sinkhole?

According to an article from Offbeat Qatar, the Musfur Sinkhole is the largest known of the still accessible sinkhole caves in Qatar, which is relatively easy to reach and explore (as mentioned above and to be elaborated as you scroll along).

Two types of sinkholes exist. One forms when the roof of a cave collapses and exposes the underground cavern. The second type forms when water dissolves the rock underneath soil and creates an underground chasm. Without rock to support it, the soil layer collapses and creates a hole on the surface.

Local scientists are yet to confirm what cause sinkholes to appear in various parts of the country. But one thing's for sure: the Musfur that we know now is not only easy to locate, it also demands to be seen as there's nothing like it that you've ever seen in Qatar before.

2. How to locate it from Doha?

Head west to Salwa Road for about 13 miles until you see the signboard for Umm Ash Shubrum. It is recommended to use a map app or GPS system to locate the exact spot.

For GPS coordinates, refer to this: N 25 10’30” E 51 12’41”

3. How to prepare for your descent?

If you've watched the 2009 critically-acclaimed British horror film The Descent, then you must have an idea on what and how to prepare for your descent, regardless the Musfur Sinkhole's relatively beginner approach.

Please be well-guided that as there is no clear path down into the cave, you can basically scramble down anywhere. It is not too difficult and normal shoes with laces are fine but never go down there with a slipper, sandal, or worst—barefoot. Bring water, an extra shirt, flashlight/headlamp, and a yoga mat just in case

4. Any safety tips once inside?

For safety reasons, the Musfur Sinkhole is enclosed by a chain-link fence, but is accessible to visitors via a small gate anytime of day. There are no steps going down the hole, but the ground is steady enough for a descent.

A pro tip from Offbeat Qatar:

We went to the Sinkhole many times and nothing happened, but please be advised that the cave roof is not protected and rocks of different size might potentially fall anytime. Descending into the cave is entirely up to your own judgement and only you are responsible if anything happens. Look up and observe the wall and any loose stones or rocks and avoid walking/staying underneath them.

5. What are some of the fun and unique activities that a visitor can do inside the sinkhole?

One of the least expected activities you can do inside is the lesser-known sport of rock climbing, or bouldering to be precise. Also, as the sinkhole's interior provides a cool feeling despite Qatar's mostly temperate quality, you can even do yoga inside for meditation purposes.

Now you know why we're urging you earlier to bring a mat just in case!

6. When's the perfect time of the year to visit?

The temperature drops as you start to climb down, offering a much-needed break from the desert heat. With that said, a visit during the summer months in Qatar (May till mid-October) is the most recommended.

So if you're looking for a temporary respite from the humid weather in this part of the globe, then you might have already found the best spot!

7. So what's really down there?

Whoever says that there's a lake or a pond underneath the Musfur Sinkhole haven't been to the vicinity yet. And whoever speculated that vicious and carnivorous animals lurk in the dark down below it are too fond of superstitious stories.

Well, we can't blame such speculations as the visible bottom is around 100m deep (the deepest that you can safely reach is more than 325 feet), pushing some scientiests to suspect a larger cave-system to extend below.

The truth is, there's nothing but sand, layering of rock sediments, and darkness (that's why we thought that bringing a headlamp with you would be a great idea) at the bottom of the sinkhole. But if you will try to look around, you'll arrive to the realization that there's this unseen 'darkness' beneath the sinkhole that needs more attention.

Unfortunately, people have recently added many more graffitis to the cave walls, including random scribblings of names, phone numbers, and even Instagram usernames which spoil the experience in an alarming way. Not to mention the excessive amount of trash scattered all over the place when we last visited.

7. How to make your stay worth the while?

Simple: Please take all your trash back with you. Climb down to minimize the garbage pollution by bringing a trash bag and picking up random litter. If you can't do that, at least don't leave anything behind. There are very limited natural destinations in such a small country like Qatar and we can't afford to lose any of them because of negligence.

Be mindful enough by following this very basic etiquette not just in the Musfur Sinkhole but anywhere you are in Qatar. Let's start within ourselves and stop at nothing.

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