When a friend of mine approached me with a Sunday plan for a hike in Akkar, I responded with the typical “Menshouf”, equivalent to “probably not”. All he had to do was show me a picture he had taken two weeks ago at the Azer Forest for me to change my mind.
Having went on the hike myself, I can now say that the 70 minute drive from Hazmieh to Tripoli at 6:30 AM, and the 2 hour bus ride from Tripoli to Amou3a Akkar was surprisingly and definitely worth it. The group I was with go by the name Real Hikers, and we joined the local guide team Discover Akkar (إكتشف عكار).
Where: Amou3a Akkar, North Lebanon
When: a Sunday in November
What: 7 km hike (Medium level)
At an altitude of 1,500 – 1,650 meters above sea level, the hike began in Dahr el Kef, an area overlooking Akkar’s valley as well as the Syrian and the Lebanese coasts. Unfortunately it was a bit foggy while we were there so we could not identify the Syrian coast.
The trail continued 7 km to pass through areas with unique rock formations and trees that are said to be more than 2,000 years old, and the forest said to have more than 50 different tree species.
Our first break was at a site named “Makam Al Nabi Khaled”, a popular camping site where you cannot miss the two humongous trees (شجر العذر) in the field, and a Cedar tree said to be more than 2,018 years old. Under one of the trees, you will find a burial. Creepy thing about this green space is a yellow patch of grass less than 10 meters away from the burial site, symmetrical to the burial site itself.
Around 2 hours into the hike, we started to descend into the Azer Forest. A majestic space of golden trees and leaves that have fallen from the long and slim towering trees to create the most beautiful golden crisp carpet you might ever set foot on. There couldn’t have been a better time to visit this forest. The trees are Silver Oaks, a very rare species, in Lebanon found only in this forest and in Horsh Ehden.
What is strange however is that I did not see any saplings (baby trees). I am not sure if this is normal in a forest this size, but I sincerely hope that serious efforts are made to protect these forests and their wildlife. I choose not to discuss the issue of the many bird hunters we encountered on our way and the government officials’ negligence in executing the law.
There is an indescribable comfort that comes with watching the golden leaves fall around you in slow motion as you lay on a bed of them beneath the trees.