Small group Lebanon tour
Description of Small group Lebanon tour
Lebanon, a small country tucked away on the Mediterranean coast often overlooked by travellers. From the busting and lively capital of Beirut to the small rural villages dotted with cedar trees, Lebanon cannot fail to captivate those visitors willing to explore.
This 9-day small-group tour takes in coastal communities including the pretty harbour at Byblos as well as the country's second city at Tripoli. Visit the Neolithic Sea Castle of Sidon and learn the art of soap making before watching fishermen drying their nets in the harbourside community of Tyre. Stroll the cedar forests of the Chouf Mountains and of course visit one of the highlights of the country, the historic ruins of Baalbek. Known as Heliopolis during the Hellenistic period, these UNESCO-registered Roman ruins are some of the largest in the world with colossal structures and historic temples.
This small-group tour has been carefully planned to offer a balance of the old and the new of Lebanon staying in remote guesthouses and even a traditional monastery offering opportunities to meet local people and learn a little about this compact and fascinating country.
|Day 1||Fly to Beirut. Land and transfer to a hotel. Enjoy the remainder of the day free in this bustling neighbourhood of Hamra before enjoying dinner as a group. (D)|
|Day 2||Spend the day exploring Beirut, one of the oldest cities in the world. Explore the National Musuem and the atmospheric Roman Baths. Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant before being joined by a local journalist for an informative walking tour of downtown Beirut. Early evening stroll the corniche before dinner. (B/L/D)|
|Day 3||Today drive south along the coast to Sidon and Tyre. Visit the Sea Castle at Sidon which was built by the Crusaders. Head into the old town with its maze of lanes which have remained unchanged for centuries and visit the Audi Foundation Soap Musuem to learn about the art of soap making. Enjoy lunch in a local eatery in Sidon before continuing the journey to Tyre. Discover the colossal Roman hippodrome and the triumphal arch before taking a stroll along the harbour side to see the fishermen laying out their nets. Enjoy a quick refreshment break before returning to Beirut for dinner and overnight. (B/L/D)|
|Day 4||Drive in to the mountains of the Chouf region which is home to many of Lebanon's cedars, many of which are over 2000 years old. Drive to the small village of Deir El Qamar once a seat of power during Ottoman times. Wander the village's stepped streets and enjoy a local lunch. Continue to Beiteddine and explore the beautifully restored palace which dates back to the early 19th century. Spend the night in the village. (B/L/D)|
|Day 5||Today will be spent exploring a real highlight of Lebanon - the Roman ruins of Baalbek. The journey takes us first to Aanjar, a small village which sits in the shadow of the Anti-Lebanon Mountains and home to the UNESCO registered Umayyad ruins. Continue the journey to Baalbek, the Roman site contains some of the largest Roman remains in the world. End the day in a local village and en-route stop at one of the wineries of the Bekaa Valley for a spot of wine tasting. (B/L/D)|
|Day 6||Enjoy breakfast with your village hosts this morning and then get back on the road for the drive to Byblos. En-route visit Jeita Grotto which is home to one of the largest collections of stalagmites and stalactites in the world. Take a cable car ride to the uppermost cavern before riding a small train to the lower cavern. Jump on a boat for a journey through the cave. Once in Byblos visit the Crusader Castle which sits is the middle of Phoenician ruins. Enjoy an early evening boat trip along the coast before enjoying dinner in a local restaurant. (B/L/D)|
|Day 7||Drive north to Tripoli which is a fabulous example of Mamluke architecture. Visit the Citadel of Raymond de Saint-Giles and explore old Tripoli to see the hammans, madrassahs and mosques which date back to the 14th century. After lunch head to the mountains of the Qadisha Valley for an overnight stay in a local monastery. (B/L/D)|
|Day 8||This morning take a scenic walk through the tranquil cedar forests before returning to the hustle and bustle of busy Beirut. En-route stop to visit the Khalil Gibran Museum and admire the 400+ drawings on display. Enjoy a final group dinner on your final night in Lebanon. (B/L/D)|
|Day 9||This morning return to the airport for the flight back to the UK. (B)|
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PlanetLebanon is a country where 'green' policies and principles are not exactly buzz words so it's all about the little things adding up to slowly start to make a difference. We are always talking to our local ground agents about the importance of stressing to clients the importance of basic responsible principles such as appropriate waste disposal, not to waste water, turning off lights on leaving the room in hotels, not replacing towels and bedding daily etc.
Our local agents are pioneers in responsible travel programs in the Middle East. They seek the revival of historical and cultural heritages through itineraries of “discovery and culture”. They specialise in programmes which trek, ride, and hike through the land allowing visitors to experience authentic encounters with local people. They are keen to stress to visitors the importance of not straying from marked trails at historic sites, an important step towards maintaining the sites for future generations. They have been a member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council since 2008 which was established to ensure sustainable tourism in the Middle East.
As a company we have introduced responsible practices in our UK office including paper, cardboard, aluminium and plastic recycling. We also support local UK charities including the RNIB and various charities around the world. 50% of our office staff use public transport (bus and train) and cycle to work. Management encourages this with their introduction of the cycle to work scheme which offers subsidised cycle ownership.
PeopleBy the very nature of life in Lebanon all services are provided by local people. This includes your local English-speaking group guides/boat crew, the drivers, local guides at various monuments/sites and hotel staff. All staff are paid a fair wage for Lebanon and all wages are kept within the local communities thereby supporting local people. Furthermore, by visiting these hotels and sites additional income is brought into the region, further helping to develop the local area.
Our local agents established a not-for profit organisation called CIFA in 2005 which is an in-house training initiative aimed at training unemployed locals as professional tour leaders to provide them with long-term employment opportunities. CIFA has initiated training programs which focus on the links between tourism, conservation and sustainable development, all within the movement for long term responsible tourism. CIFA supports and creates projects to provide motivation, income and livelihood for members of the local communities, with a focus on rural regions.
All of the food for meals included on the itinerary is sourced locally whether it is served in hotels or a local restaurant. Accommodation in the remote village locations featured on this itinerary are locally owned, run, staffed and managed guesthouses and small hotels. Many of these village locations don't see international tourists so these properties and the people who stay in them are an important source of income for these small communities. The itinerary also features a monastery stay
Possibly one of the key positive benefits of visiting Lebanon is the albeit sometimes small influence outside attitudes and cultures can make on the people of the country. Lebanese people are always welcoming and friendly and keen to learn a little about Western ways. This holiday helps to allow each culture to learn a little about the other.