Exploring Stalactite Cave Nature Reserve: Family Travel Guide

Stalactite Cave Nature Reserve

Welcome to Stalactite Cave Nature Reserve! This is our 7th NP in our National Park Challenge – to visit and document each national park in Israel. All of our adventures are shared via blog posts and on our Instagram account – Hochdorf family adventures. Join us as we discover Israel’s beauty! 

National Parks and National Reserves of Israel

Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority was put in place to protect Israel’s natural, historical and heritage treasures. There are currently 81 national parks and nature reserves to be explored. 

Stalactite Cave Nature Reserve

Stalactite Cave Nature Reserve is the largest stalactite and stalagmite cave in Israel. The incredible cave, also known as Sorek cave, is full of stalactites and stalagmites – made from years of dissolving dolomite and limestone rocks. 

The cave was actually discovered by accident in 1968 from a routine explosion at a nearby quarry, opening up and revealing the cave. And since then, it was declared a nature reserve. 

Because the cave is continually evolving, the Parks Authority takes excellent measures to conserve the cave while still allowing the public to visit. The LED lighting inside the cave helps preserve the cave and is ecological, doesn’t emit heat, and uses wavelengths to prevent algae.  

Tip: There is no flash photography allowed in the cave, but you can still take pictures and videos. But with NO FLASH to preserve the cave. You’ll definitely want to take pics, though, so use night or dark settings. 

Stalactite Cave

Where is Stalactite Cave Located?

Stalactite Cave is located in the Judean hills, just east of Bet Shemesh. From Tel Aviv, it’s about a 50-minute drive; take the 1 south/6 south/38 south. From Jerusalem, it’s a quick half-hour drive. Simply take the 386 west/3866 west. 

map to Stalactite Cave

Waze Location: Stalactite Cave Nature Reserve

When is Stalactite Cave Nature Reserve Open?

Stalactite Cave is open daily with a winter and summer schedule. 

Summer Hours:

Sunday – Thursday and Saturday: 8:00 – 16:00; Friday: 08:00 – 15:00

Winter Hours: 

Sunday – Thursday and Saturday: 08:00 – 15:00; Friday: 08:00 – 14:00

Park Tip: The park’s entrance closes an hour before the actual closing time. 

What is the Entry Price? 

The price for an adult’s entrance is ₪28.00 (shekels), and children’s entrance (ages 5-17) is ₪14.00 – and children under 5 enter free. Buying an annual National Park Pass gives you free access to all national parks for a year. 

Price Tip: We definitely recommend purchasing the annual pass, especially for a family who visits multiple parks a year. Our yearly pass paid for itself after just 3 parks. 

When is the Best Time to Visit Stalactite Cave?

Stalactite Cave is open year-round, but during the winter rainy season (December – February), it may close from time to time due to extreme flooding, so always check with the National Park authorities first.

The winter hours visiting times are shorter than the summer times, so make sure you arrive early enough to enter. 

Is Stalactite Cave NP Kid-friendly?

Stalactite Cave is a kid-friendly, but because of the nature of the cave, it’s important to be aware of certain precautions with little children. 

The walking area is quite slippery, so running is not permitted. You also cannot touch any of the stalactites or stalagmites, and they are quite strict about this. Make sure your children are aware of this before entering. And visitors must talk in quiet voices, so yelling and screaming is not permitted in the cave. It’s also a bit dark, although the cave is lit up, so take this into consideration if your child is afraid of darker areas.

But all of that being said, our daughter absolutely loved it! The breathtaking structures throughout the caves make you feel like you’re in a whole other world. Most children love the cave! 

Stalactite Cave Kid Friendly

The Observation Deck

Before you enter the cave, the observation deck provides some of the most spectacular views of the Judea plain, along with the city of Bet Shemesh. You can see other smaller caves jetting from the hills and the quarry that once existed. As you can see, the views are incredible! 

Inside Stalactite Cave

Observation Platform 

As you enter the cave, you’ll stand in the observation area, where you can see a view of the entire cave. This platform is the beginning of the tour, and the panoramic view of the lighted cave is stunning. 

Tip: The Observation platform is the perfect place to get a picture or video of the cave in its entirety. 

Stalactites and Stalagmites

As you begin walking through the cave, you’ll see hundreds of stalactite and stalagmite formations. Walking through the entire cave takes between 45 minutes and an hour, depending on how many stops you make. There is a paved path to follow, but there are quite a few steps, so I suggest bringing a baby carrier for younger children. 

  • Stalactites – grow from the roof downwards
  • Stalagmites – grow from the floor upwards 

Some of the famous formations inside the cave are the pillar, the elephant’s ears, the sculptures garden, the macaroni field, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Romeo and Juliette, and more. If you are taking a guided tour of the cave, your tour guide will point out these formations along with other interesting points.  

Tip: A great game for kids is to try and find these formations inside the cave. 

Stalactite and Stalagmite

How are Stalactites and Stalagmites Created? 

Stalactites and Stalagmites are formed from the process of dissolving limestone and dolomite rocks. First, water that enters the soil dissolves the carbon dioxide and creates carbonic acid. This acid water is what dissolves the limestone and dolomite rocks in a process that takes thousands of years. 

As these drops reach caves below the surface, precipitation begins and starts to build the stalactites and stalagmites. What’s really cool about the formation is that it’s not random at all – they follow the cracks in the cave’s roof.

How Stalactites and Stalagmites are created

Tip: Touring the cave is a great learning opportunity for kids. Introduce science by teaching them all about stalactites and stalagmites.  

FREE Stalactite & Stalagmite Science Experiment Activity Page

Stalactite Cave Nature Reserve Rating 

The Stalactite Cave is a fantastic opportunity to see nature at work. It’s also a great chance to provide children with science integration of stalactites and stalagmites formation. The overall experience of the cave is extremely unique and special. It feels like you’re in a completely alien world – which in fact, you are! We all enjoyed our tour of the Stalactite Cave very much. Mia gave it her 4-year old approval. 

Overall, we give Stalactite Cave Nature Reserve 4 out of 5 ibexes. (The Ibex is the symbol for the Israel National Parks.) 

4 out of 5 ibex

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