Lynn Cheikh Moussa
Days off, vacations, and long weekends all share one thing in common: the need to get far, far away from the dull routine of work, eat, sleep, and repeat. If we are not spending our days off slaving away at an endless heap of work, we are probably looking to spice things up and go somewhere.
While our bank accounts, motion-sickness and downright lack of time some days do not enable us to get very far in our adventures, our Lebanese mountain scapes, historic landmarks, and iconic beaches give us just another opportunity to get away. Here are four adventurous locations to spice up your getaways and give you a sense of adventure.
- The Niha Forest
Located midway between the South, the Bekaa district and Chouf, the Niha Fortress is a historic fortress carved right into the side of a rocky cliff. Overlooking the road connecting Saida and the Bekaa valley, the fortress is the place Emir Fakhr-al-Din II sought refuge in as he fled from the Ottomans.
While much of the fortress has fallen victim to the ruins of time, the base of it still stands. It dates back to the days of the Crusaders, and contains epic historical tales not many Lebanese people know of.
For the mere price of 7,000 L.L., which goes to funding the Chouf Biosphere Reserve, the ticket grants you a guided tour of the entire fortress and additional access to the Barouk Tree Reserve for the day. Epic views and lovely historical tales are guaranteed.
- Cedars of God
While this one is for the strong-hearted who can persevere through the endless hours of driving, it is most definitely worth every minute spent on the road. You have got to see the national symbol at least once, no?
The cedar forest stretches far and long, and the cold breeze and purely natural ambience are indisputably unique. Head over there for a hike, a good time, and even a night to spend as several hotels are within the area.
For those who prefer to soak up every last piece of the area, you can take a little detour away from the forest and set up a campsite near the ski slopes. There you can light a fire, and stargaze with friends. Tip: It is also a wonderful idea for a date.
You can also get some magical sights if you choose to stop by the village of Bcharre, which is also on the road up to the forest.
- Baakline Waterfall & River (in Summer)
Everyone who knows anyone in Lebanon has heard of the Baakline waterfall and river at least once in their lifetime. This place is a tourist staple!
Several restaurants overlook the Baakline river and waterfalls, yet only one place makes for a more enjoyable experience; the Paradise resort – more like small cafe, but that’s up for debate – gives you the luxury of swimming, diving, and barbecuing all for a modest price of around 15,000 L.L. per person.
The waters are some of the coolest you may ever experience, and the cold breeze will make you forget all about the hot winds of summer. Warning: Skin may turn blue after being in the water for a while, but that’s perfectly normal.
For those who opt not to barbecue, do make sure to bring along a few snacks if you intend on spending a full day there as Paradise only offers a bar with no restaurant facilities.
On a hot summer day where sandy or rocky beaches just won’t do, road-trip to Baakline and, literally, take a swim with the fish.
The town of Jezzine has become quite famous over the summer with Lebanese and foreign individuals constantly filling its restaurants and hotels.
If you are looking for an entire weekend getaway, look no further. Head to Jezzine to take a hike in the nearby Bkassine forests, have a wonderful lunch in one of the many restaurants it has to offer, then spend the night at a modest cafe or on a stroll with your friends, family, or lovers, before retiring to a peaceful night’s sleep back at the hotel.
Not a minute will be wasted at Jezzine! Surrounding it are some of the best Chouf sights, like the previously mentioned Niha Fortress, the closeby – and infamous – Moussa castle, and many more. You cannot miss it!