This 8 day tour, starts and ends in Beirut, Lebanon.
Welcome to Beirut! You will be transferred to your hotel and the remainder of the day is yours free to explore at your own pace.
We start off the day with a visit to Barouk Cedar Nature Reserve where many wild animals, hundreds of plant and bird species may be found. We then drive to the Chouf Mountains and the village of Deir al Qamar, 17th century capital of Lebanon. It is a charming place and is rich with historical significance. We then visit the gorgeous 19th century Beit ed-Dine Palace. Constructed around an old Druze hermitage, the palace is one of the greatest remaining Lebanese architectural achievements. Finally return to Beirut to enjoy an evening out in this busy city.
We start this morning with a tour of Lebanon's capital city, Beirut. A city of contrasts, Beirut features ancient architecture alongside cotemporary buildings. Highlights of the tour include the downtown area, the corniche, and the Beirut Souks. You also see Raouche Rocks, a well-known natural formation that rises out of the ocean. After leaving Beirut and heading north towards Byblos, we'll stop for an adventurous visit to the Jeita Grotto, where we can see one of the largest collections of stalactites and stalagmites in the world. We then head to Harissa, where we go to the top of the Our Lady of Lebanon Basilica by cable car and enjoy great views over the bay below.
Finally the tour finishes in Byblos, possibly the oldest continually-inhabited city in the world, significant both historically and archaeologically.
After spending the morning exploring Byblos's harbour and attractions, our destination today is the spectacular Baatara Gorge Sinkhole and Waterfall. Baatara Gorge consists of an enormous cavern, into which a waterfall cascades hundreds of metres, over three naturally formed bridges, when the mountain snows are melting and after periods of heavy rainfall. You can choose to do a small hike, or to explore the nearby Douma Village. A traditional Lebanese lunch is included today. Finally today we drive to the scenic Qadisha Valley where we spend the night at the Qozhaya Monastery (subject to availability), or a nearby guesthouse.
If we have been able to spend the night in the Monastery, you will have the opportunity to join the monks for morning prayers.
After breakfast we'll take a short hike passing springs, waterfalls, churches and monasteries, in the beautiful Qadisha Valley, a UNESCO Heritage Site and one of the most important early Christian monastic settlements in the world. From the valley we visit the village of Becharre, the birthplace of Khalil Gibran, the legendary poet and artist. His museum contains many of his manuscripts, paintings, and personal effects.
We'll then proceed to the Cedars Ski Resort where found nearby is the Cedars of God, one of the last remnants of the cedar forests that used to cover these mountains. En route to our overnight stop, Zahle "the City of Wine and Poetry", the tour crosses the Col des Cedres pass and descends along a sharply winding road into the Bekaa Valley. This high plateau sits between the Anti Lebanon and Mt. Lebanon mountain ranges and has been the heart of Lebanon's wine growing industry for centuries.
Today we head to Baalbek which features the most well-preserved temple complex in the Middle East. It is still largely intact after earthquakes, wars, and ravages. The Greeks and Romans dedicated the temple to the god of the sun, Jupiter. We then visit the only significant Umayyad site in Lebanon, Anjar, founded in the 8th century, its mosques, palaces, and baths provide evidence that it was an imperial residence which also features 600 shops, indicating that it was also an important commercial centre.
Next we go on a guided tour of the Ksara Caves, which are dated from the Roman era, and also visit the winery where a tasting is included. If you wish, you can also purchase some of the finest wines in Lebanon.
Today's itinerary consists of a full-day tour of South Lebanon. We start in the city of Tyre, a UNESCO Heritage Site, an ancient Phoenician city and home to a number of important historical sites. Its golden age was during the reign of King Hiram who fostered close ties with the Hebrew kings David and Solomon, and contributed to the construction of the Temple of Solomon by sending skilled workers and cedar wood.
We then drive to Sidon, also known as Saida, another important ancient Phoenician city which grew wealthy due to the trade of murex, a type of shellfish from which an expensive purple dye used to be produced, as well as glass.
Today, Saida is an important administrative and commercial centre of South Lebanon. You will visit the Great Mosque, the Crusader Sea Castle, Khan el Franj, and other interesting sites. You can also enjoy browsing through the old souks.
After breakfast our tour concludes and we say goodbye to our new friends and are transferred to the airport for your onward flight.