From the +4,000 meter heights of the Bale Mountains, the Web River descends nearly 3000 meters in elevation as it flows east and enters Holqa Sof Omar, a 15 kilometer long network of caves.
Currently on UNESCO’s list of proposed World Heritage Sites, Holqa Sof Omar is described by UNESCO: "In this realm of dry, cool caves nature has worked a marvel of architecture — soaring pillars of stone twenty meters (66 feet) high, flying buttresses, fluted arch ways, and tall airy vaults. Finally the river itself is reached, a sunless sea flowing through a deep gorge."
Named for the Muslim saint who took refuge there in the 11th century, Sof Omar is an important shrine not just for Muslims but has long been a sacred place for Oromo local religions.
Sof Omar is most easily reached from Goba (a gateway town to the Bale Mountains National Park) about 120 kilometers away. The drive will take about 3 hours so it's best to camp near the caves if you want to thoroughly explore them.
Photos courtesy of Jamal Kassim