Lebanon has a mere 225 km of coast line, much of which is neither free nor clean to enjoy. Compared to this, it has a lifetime of trails and walks to discover that lead through pristine natural landscapes of great diversity, passing through or near small villages and hamlets, rivers, orchards, places of heritage and of course, many local food delicacies. [NowLebanon]
NowLebanon, with the help of CVS (Club Des Vieux Sentiers) and LMT (Lebanese Mountain Trail), compiled a list of summer hikes that you can check [Here].
The Club Des Vieux Sentiers was founded back in 1971 and has been organizing hikes ever since. You don’t have to be a professional to join them as there are several hikes of varying difficulties offered. I’ve never been to any hike yet but I have a friend who goes all the time and uploads the most amazing pictures. The hikes are a great way to discover many parts of Lebanon we haven’t heard of, but more importantly switch off after a long week, meet new people, get some exercise and enjoy nature.
If you are interested in going on one of the CVS’s hikes, check their [Website] and [Facebook Page].
If you wish to go for something more extreme, you can try to hike the [LMT].
PS: If you don’t know what to bring or wear on a hike, there’s a hiking checklist and tons of information on the LMT website that you can check [Here].
Picture from the 80s night at B018 – Tribute to Michael Jackson
If Lebanon is truly paying the price of Syria’s war, then why is there traffic everywhere I go? Why is traffic increasing on a daily basis from Beirut to Jbeil? Why are all the nightclubs and rooftops packed from Wednesday to Sunday? Why are the beaches packed on weekends?
I know that numbers suggest that Lebanon’s economy is suffering, Arab tourists are not coming and tourism is bad but it honestly doesn’t feel that way wherever I am going lately. This makes me wonder how bad traffic would be if all these tourists were here.
“As soon as you even utter the word ‘weapons’ you’ve killed tourism,” Paul Achkar, head of the Lebanese hotel association, told AFP. “Three hundred tourism establishments have closed down since the start of the year,” he said.
Although confident that the industry will recover, Tourism Minister Fadi Abboud said the figures for the start of the season were pitiable.
“The occupancy rate at hotels in Beirut is barely 35 percent this month, half of the usual at this time of year.
“Outside Beirut, it’s catastrophic. We’re talking about five percent compared to the usual 35 percent,” Abboud told AFP.
The atmosphere in Beirut, dubbed party capital of the Middle East, is not so morose, and Christian areas such as Byblos or Jounieh have also fared better than other areas. [AFP]
The Jounieh International Festival kicked off with an amazing synchronized firework show all over the bay. I saw a lot of pictures yesterday on Instagram and Facebook and was able to find this nice video.
You can read more about the festival [Here] and lots of pictures [Here].
Every time the summer is here, we are reminded that the beaches in Lebanon are becoming for the rich and that the entrance fees to beaches and pools are even more expensive that the previous year, yet somehow we have new resorts opening every year and the beaches are getting more and more packed.
We know for a fact that people are not getting wealthier in Lebanon, so it’s either people are willing to spend a big portion of their salaries to go for a swim or the numbers are exaggerated. I think that while entrance fees are unbelievably high at certain resorts, there are a lot of cheaper alternatives and free beaches that few of us know of.
However, this doesn’t justify the outrageous prices that we have to pay for beaches that are illegally occupied and exploited. The numbers are scary and there doesn’t seem to be a proper way to resolve this issue except setting up high taxes on these properties and forcing their owners to pay substantial amounts of money to cover our debts (Or in Lebanon’s case, go into some of the politicians’ pockets who will reinvest them in some of these illegal beach resorts they “own”).
Many Lebanese are fed up with this reality but that’s one of these issues in Lebanon that is very hard to tackle as there are way too many parties involved.
The ministry estimates the total area of intrusions in this region to be more than 2,247,884 square meters (m²). They include 1,651,707 m² of reclaimed sea, and land facilities taking up to 162,383 m². Mount Lebanon’s share of aggressions totals half that of the country’s coastline. [Link]
I posted few days that Lebanese beaches are no longer safe for swimming according to a study published in the DailyStar and a statement from the Green Party’s President Nada Zaarour. However and as pointed out by Habib, Zaarour’s statement contradicts with the study results as shown in the map (which is not clear) in the same article.
I looked for a bigger and clearer map and was able to find one on Afedmag.com that you can check [Here].
It doesn’t mean we don’t have a pollution problem but at least there are still plenty of beaches where one can swim in Lebanon, such as Chekka, Batroun, Amchit, AUB beach, Damour, Jiyyeh, Rmeileh, Tyr and Naccoura.
There’s something still confusing me though, how samples collected from Jbeil and Sidon all measured above the 100 fecal coliforms mark, and samples collected in Mina and Sidon came back borderline toxic, yet the map shows Sidon, Jbeil and Tripoli beaches as acceptable.
I have already prepared a post on how to spend a day in Faraya but I will save it till next week and share this post on the ATV road trip adventure Mark had during the last weekend.
It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time but never had time to plan it. If I am not mistaken, you can also plan a trip from Faraya to the Cedars during winter using a skidoo.
Here are few excerpts from the post. You can read it the full post [Here].
This trip will take the whole day so there’s no need to plan anything before or after it. Just have a proper breakfast because it’s a long ride and get a jacket.
This past long weekend I spent it in Lebanon and among the activities I did the most fun was an ATV road trip adventure. I didn’t really know what to expect, I had just previously heard off a friend that you can take an ATV trip with a guide from the popular ski area Faraya, all the way to the Cedars (a few mountains away) and back. The trip ended up being just unbelievably fun.
Depending on where you stay in Lebanon, getting to Faraya will take you anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour with no traffic. Faraya is a popular destination in the winter since a lot of ski resorts are based there, but in the summer, it’s a popular destination for outdoor activities like offroading, mountain biking, camping and ATV exploration. I had booked a bunch of ATVs for me and my friends before arriving to Lebanon and because we wanted to start the day early we got to the starting location in Faraya at around 9:30AM. From there we got geared up, given basic safety tips and the chance to try out the ATVs before heading out on our trip.
The trip is 80% off road with the rest of the time being tiny tarmac roads. It was an incredibly fun journey full of beautiful scenery and general seclusion with no people for miles and miles away. The route heading out was different than the route coming back so that way we didn’t get to experience the same scenery twice. We weren’t expecting the weather to be cold so we didn’t get jackets but our guide recommended we got some since we would be going up to the highest peak in Lebanon (around 2,750 meters high). Luckily we found a small store near the starting point that rented out ski jackets and good thing we got them because with the jackets on we were still freezing our asses off in some stages of the trip.
This was an incredibly fun adventure and one I really can’t wait to go on again. Since we were four people the cost for the trip was $225 per person (guide included). If you’re less than four it’s $250 and if you’re more than four you could probably negotiate a better price. You could also share an ATV with someone else since it can hold two people and that way split the amount. But I have to say it was EXTREMELY worth $225. Make sure if you do take this trip to expect to end up covered in dust and dirt. Also bring a jacket with you as well. We rented the ATVs with the guide from a place called Red Runner. Their phone number is +9613178666. Have fun!
According to CNN Travel, Almaza is the No.1 beer in the Middle East and North Africa. Almaza is indeed great but now I am interested in tasting the other 5 beers on that list. I don’t think we have any of them in Lebanon though (Definitely not the Israeli one haha!).
In at number one is the king of Middle Eastern beers and the staple of any trip to Beirut, the one-and-only Almaza. At a low 4% ABV, Almaza may be a light and fairly standard pilsner, but served ice cold at a Hamra Street café on a warm summer evening, it amounts to far more than that.
“Almaza tastes like a Lebanese summer night would if you could bottle it, with a side of nuts,” said Beirut native Karl Baz, 33. [CNN]
In case you are wondering whether it’s better to swim in a beach or a pool, this LBC report and DailyStar article will make you reconsider going swimming in the first place in Lebanon.
According to the DailyStar’s article, samples collected from swimming areas in Nahr el Kalb, Jounieh, Tabarja, Ramlet al-Baida, Jbeil and Sidon all measured above the 100 fecal coliforms mark which meant that the beaches are no longer safe for swimming. The samples collected in Mina and Sidon came back borderline toxic!!
The results given to The Daily Star reveal a widely polluted coast undermining Lebanon’s image as a beach and resort destination. Unsafe levels of fecal coliforms can lead to rashes, diarrhea and vomiting and can spread disease depending on the extent of exposure.
Results can vary widely in the same city based on where the sample is taken, it often depends on where waste is exhausted, which is not widely regulated. Environment and Development Magazine conducted their studies at the American University of Beirut and will publish full results in next month.
I honestly stopped going to the beach since the 2006 war and the pollution that followed. I go to specific pools which I hope are as clean as I think they are.
“This is an emergency,” said Nada Zaarour, president of Green Party, about the study. “People shouldn’t be swimming at Lebanese beaches.”
“It’s a very serious problem that the Lebanese people are dealing with since we have some of the most expensive resorts on the Mediterranean coast,” she added.
I wish to ask the Green Party’s president about the activities or actions undertaken by her party in the past years to prevent all this pollution. I think it’s too late to call it an emergency at this point. This question goes as well to the concerned parties and ministries.