7th  to  14th May 2010 | Lebanon

The Lebanon Mountain Eco-Trail 2010

Lebanon 2010 Group Fun
  • Lebanon 2010 Group Fun
  • Lebanon 2010 Charity Tricia
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"They say that if one understands himself, he understands all people. But I say to you, when one loves people, he learns something about himself"
Khalil Gibran

The Lebanon Mountain Eco-Trail (In the Footsteps of Khalil Gibran)

Qoubayat to Hasroun, Lebanon

May 7 - 14, 2010

Trek - 5 days - 117km

This was G4G's 29th challenge.

In this challenge we discovered Lebanon's remote natural beauty, got connected with her warm and friendly people, and experienced age-old culture and culinary delights on the first long-distance hiking trail in Lebanon! Determined to conserve their unique natural and cultural heritage through environmentally- and socially-responsible ecotourism, the mountain communities created this trail with sweeping vistas of snow-capped mountains, deep lush valleys and the sparkling Mediterranean; remote villages; literature; nature reserves; castles; palaces; monasteries; and Roman/Medieval/Ottoman remains…. We would really like to go back there again!

THE CHARITY:
Funds raised will support the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund and SOS Children’s Villages.

MIN FUNDRAISING TARGET: AED12,000

TRAINING: This was a HARD test of our fitness, but was achievable by anyone who maintained a certain level of fitness, i.e., regularly in the gym, swimming, walking, etc.

ACCOMMODATION AND FOOD: Offering another chance to get to know the local people, we stayed in home stays and local motels. Meals and drinking water were also included.

Level:This was a HARD test of fitness and determination, but was achievable by anyone who maintained a certain level of fitness, i.e.: regularly in the gym, swimming, walking. G4G held a number of free training sessions before the challenge.

Number of participants:Maximum 25 per group.

Registration Fee: AED 1,850/-

Minimum Sponsorship: AED 12,000/-

Assistance provided in advance by G4G: Fund-raising ideas; training & fitness suggestions; safety & medical advice; clothing & equipment advice.

What G4G provides on the Challenge: Flights and transfers, hotels/tents (on a double-occupancy basis), food, guides, medical & vehicle back-up.

Essential to leave behind: Day-to-day problems.

Essential to bring: Determination & a sense of humour!

The Lebanese Mountain Eco-Trail

May 7 - 14, 2010

Day 1: May 7, Friday

Departed Dubai – arrived Beirut

Arrived in Beirut & transferred to the hotel.

Voted the No.1 capital for 2009 by the New York Times, Beirut is a fascinating mix of modern and traditional.   From dusk till dawn, the city is bustling and the capital boasts ancient history and modern restaurants where one can discover the renowned Lebanese Mezze. That evening was free for us to explore at our leisure.

Overnight in Beirut - Mozart Hotel

Day 2: May 8, Saturday

Toured Beirut City - visited Byblos - Transferred to Akkar

That morning, we had a guided walking tour of the Beirut downtown area, followed by an hour’s drive along the Mediterranean coast to Byblos.  

Reputed to be the oldest town in the world, Byblos features excavations which have unearthed artefacts dating back to Neolithic times. After a snack lunch and a tour of the Crusader castle, we discovered the old town around the port, which features artisan shops along cobbled alleys displaying local handicraft.

We then transferred to Baino, Akkar in Lebanon’s remote North, where we had dinner and stayed overnight at the Motel Sayad - a comfortable, family-owned establishment located in the remote northern hills and offering fabulous views of the Akkar region.

Overnight at Baino, Akkar – Motel Sayad

Day 3: May 9, Sunday

Trekking: Qoubayat - Qammoua Plain - Mich Mich (ca. 25km)

After a half hour transfer to Qoubayat, we commenced our trek on the Lebanon Mountain trail (LMT).

This trail followed agricultural paths, passing forests and orchards, with dense fir and pine forests as well as junipers dotted along the hills. The views from the cliff of Kaif el Towaily are spectacular, especially in spring, when the fields are blanketed in wild flowers. Had dinner and stayed overnight at Mich Mich Hotel a small family owned guesthouse.

Overnight in Mich Mich – Mich Mich Hotel

Day 4: May 10, Monday

Trekking: Al Qemmamine - Kfar bnine - Sir Al Dineyeh (ca. 30km)

After a short transfer to Qammoua plain (15 min), our trek took us to some extremely remote areas and passes through fields offering incredible scenery –
on a clear day you can see the Mediterranean and the Lebanese /Syrian coastline. The spring of Ras el Sin is along this trail and makes a perfect spot for a picnic lunch. The region is also renowned for its unusual rock formations.

We reached our guesthouse ready for a well-earned dinner in the village of Sir
el Dineyeh.

Overnight in Sir el Dineyeh - Guesthouse

Day 5: May 11, Tuesday

Trekking: Sir Al Dineyeh - Bqaa Sefrine - Karm Al Mohr - Bchennata - Al
Sawaqi - Ehden (ca. 23Km)

Our route passed through vegetated highlands across the Douraya hills, where
we viewed the remains of an old village and an ancient burial site.  Immense oak trees can be seen there, some hundreds of years old.  Then we reached the Horsch Ehden Nature Reserve known for its unique biodiversity.  Spring is the perfect time to discover this reserve, home to wild flowers and cedar, cypress and juniper trees.

Our evening meal was with a local family and we stayed overnight in cosy wooden cabins.

Overnight in Ehden nature reserve – wooden cabins  

Day 6: May 12, Wednesday

Trekking: Ehden - Aintourine - Arbet Qozhaiya - Qannoubine – Bsharre (ca. 20km)

Our hike passed through a World Heritage site, the Qadisha Valley. This valley is home to several historic monasteries and hermitages, which we viewed along the way. The trail was along ancient footpaths and surrounded by oak and walnut trees offering shade during the day.

The last 9km was uphill, so we welcomed a delicious dinner before settling down to rest!

Overnight at the St Elysee monastery / at the Hotel Chbat, Bsharre.

Day 7: May 13, Thursday

Trekking: Bsharre - Hasroun (ca. 19km)

Commencing in the hometown of the Lebanese writer Khalil Gibran, author of The Prophet, the day’s hike passed cultivated terraces, with a panorama stretching far to view traditional Lebanese red tiled roofs of the highest village in Lebanon, Bqaa Kafra. Then we descended into the village of Hasroun, known for its preserved architecture, where the trek ended in the beautiful village square.

We were then transferred to visit one of the charities we are supporting with the fund raised through this challenge, before returning to Beirut.

Overnight in Beirut - Mozart hotel

Day 8: May 14, Friday

We were free for personal exploration until we transferred to the airport for the return flight to Dubai.

Climate
Summers in Lebanon are pleasant with temperatures averaging highs of 25 degrees Celsius and lows of 15 degrees Celsius. The daytime heat is usually tempered by an afternoon sea breeze on the coast. Summers are delightfully sunny, fresh and cool in the Mountains. Snow lies on the higher Mountains until mid June and some small patches survive throughout the dry and sunny summer.

Health
The most important and simple thing you can do to prevent illness is to be properly immunized. Seek advice from your doctor on the necessary immunizations. Malaria is a problem, so you will need to take tablets, starting before your departure. You need to be fit and healthy to participate, so start training as early as possible. Keep hydrated on the hike by drinking water regularly.
Training

You will be hiking for several hours per day.  Therefore, it is important that you start a gym or training programme at least three (3) months prior to the challenge.  Most gyms will be happy to assist you in achieving your fitness.

 The challenge is described as hard.  You need to be fit and healthy to participate.

Visa information
Check if your passport is valid for at least 6 months prior to travel. You should also have a couple of clean pages (no stamps!) left in the passport. All International passport holders require a travel Visa for Lebanon. For several nationalities such as Australian, Canadian, American, British etc. a Visa can be acquired upon entry into Lebanon. For all other Nationalities, a Visa for travel needs to be acquired from the Consulate of Lebanon. For further information contact Consulate General of Lebanon at (971) 04-397-7450 or at www.lebanonconsulate-uae.com

Please submit a copy of your visa to Gulf for Good.

Travel & Medical Insurance
G4G can arrange travel insurance for all the participants.  You will be required to pay your insurance premium at least two weeks before departure.  Further details about the premium, type of cover, insurance terms and conditions, etc. is available on request.

Fundraising
Enclosed in the Challenge pack is a comprehensive fundraising booklet, containing hundreds of ideas.  It is always preferable to arrange fundraising “events” rather than ask family, friends and colleagues for money.  Fundraising in this way increases your profile, creates more goodwill and raises awareness of the work of the nominated charities.  The G4G office can give you names of previous Challengers who will be happy to offer advice and maybe even assistance.

Safety
We take your safety very seriously.  It is our first and never forgotten priority.  Please listen to your guides and follow their instructions.

Respect for the Environment
We maintain a firm commitment to conserve the areas we work in and ask you to do the same.  Take only photographs and leave behind only footprints!

What We Supply
Flights, daily meals, water and accommodation.  All your gear will be transported each day to the night stop, except daily necessities carried in your own daypack.

 A Typical Day
Days vary according to terrain and distance. You can expect a lunch stop. Dry fruits are supplied during the trek. There will be time to socialize and explore before dinner.

Special dietary requirements can be catered to with prior notice.  Bottled water is available throughout the day.

Personal Equipment
Travel light! Try to limit your baggage to around 15 kgs. All bags are to be clearly marked and lockable. Do not take or wear any valuables on the trek - it is best to leave them at home.  

Thoughts & Ideas
Buy new footwear in good time and use it well to break it in. Bring foot/blister treatment and treat blisters early (on hands, too) Reduce the risk of blisters by wearing correctly fitting footwear, socks and gloves. Prepare your body well for the trip; get plenty of practice before you go! Stuff sacks are great for storing your gear. Use different sizes and colours to differentiate the contents. Plastic bags are also helpful to separate clean and dirty clothing.  If you normally wear contacts, bring a pair of glasses in case of eye irritation from dust.  Some of the trails are rutted and dusty. It is a good idea to pack camera equipment in plastic bags to protect them from dust in addition to their normal cases. Also bring some lens cleaning material. Laundry is difficult on this trip but you can hand wash a few quick-drying items. Make one copy of your passport and take it with you. We will have a second copy in our files.

Miscellaneous

  • UAE is 2 hours ahead of Lebanon. The currency of Lebanon is Lebanese Pounds (LBP)
  • 1 USD = 1,504.50 LBP (as of Dec10, 2009)
  • Take US Dollars to change.

Compulsory

  • Inform us of any important changes in your medical condition.
  • A relaxed attitude - and a sense of humour !

Funds raised supported two charitable organisations doing great work for children in Lebanon:

Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (http://www.pcrf.net/) – emergency dental equipment and x-ray machine for use in refugee camps

Read more...

SOS Children’s Villages (http://www.sos.org.lb/) – furnishing two concrete houses for 16 orphaned children and their ‘house mothers’

Read more...

For a little more info about the charities from one of the participants on this challenge, please go to Sally Prosser's Blog:

http://trekforlebanon.wordpress.com/

The PCRF visit was on day 1 of the challenge and the SOS visit was on the last day of the challenge.

How to pack:
Your clothes and equipment should fall into the following categories:

  • What you are going to wear and need on the trip. This should preferably fit into a single bag (soft kit bag, not a suitcase), which will be transported each day from site to site.
  • What you are going to carry in your daypack. Do carry an extra shirt in your daypack. When you stop hiking, you may feel cold after sweating and need to change or add a layer to prevent chills.

What to bring: (tick as you collect!)
Mandatory:

  • Good 3 - 4 season Sleeping bag

Bags:

  • Bag - a lockable, good-sized duffle bag with a top length zipper and nametag
  • Daypack - a light small and comfortable daypack (30 litres) with padded straps.

Footwear

  • Several pairs light weight socks
  • 1 pair hiking boots with ankle support
  • 1 pair lightweight trainers/sneakers for flat trails
  • 1 pair sandals/comfortable shoes to suit hotel/camping terrain

Underwear

  • Several sets regular underwear

Outerwear

  • 1 Light fleece or similar for evenings
  • Lightweight wind/rain protection jacket with hood
  • Brimmed hat for sun and rain

Pants

  • Trousers or shorts suitable for hotel/camping terrain

Shirts

  • A selection of quick dry shirts

Day Pack

  • Water bottles
  • Sunglasses/Sun lotion
  • Prescribed medicines
  • Camera/spare films
  • Reading material
  • Toilet Paper/Tissues
  • Chapstick
  • Extra shirt
  • Wet Wipes/water-free hand wash
  • Small change for souvenirs
  • Buff (bandana)

Other

  • Towel (fast drying)
  • Flash light or headlamps, spare batteries and bulbs
  • Toiletries

Optional

  • Trail snacks