Syria, Lebanon and northern Israel were once an ancient civilization composed of independent city-states located along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea called Phoenicia. The Phoenicians were a great maritime people, known for their mighty ships adorned with horses’ heads in honour of their god of the sea, Yamm, the brother of Mot who was the god of death.
The city of Tyr and the city of Sidon were the most powerful states in Phoenicia with Gebal/Byblos and Baalbek as the most important spiritual/religious centres. Phoenicia thrived as a maritime trader and manufacturing centre until 332 BCE and was highly regarded for their skill in ship-building, glass-making, the production of dyes, and an impressive level of skill in the manufacture of luxury and common goods.
Our small group tour, Land of The Phoenicians, is a journey to discover and explore ancient Roman ruins, majestic cedar forests that lend their image to the national flag and a sea port town that once boasted the greatest naval fleet of its time. Explore the mysterious Crusader Castle of St. Gilles, be enchanted by the Jeita Grotto’s, witness the raw beauty of the countryside as you travel along the Mediterranean coast. What are some of the highlights of this tour that you can expect to experience – read on to find out more about this fascinating region.
Beirut – ‘Paris of the Middle East’
No other Middle Eastern city has proved itself to be a hub of art and fashion quite like Beirut – a vibrant fusion of East and West as well as of tradition and modernity. From colony to couture a visit to Beirut will show how the Lebanese capital earned the nickname: The Paris of the Middle East. War-torn and tired, the people of Beirut have shown they can turn tragedy into cultural innovation.
City of Tyr
According to legend, purple dye was invented in Tyr. This great Phoenician city ruled the seas and founded prosperous colonies such as Cadiz and Carthage, but its historical role declined at the end of the Crusades. There are many important archaeological remains, mainly from Roman times, located in this city and is associated with the important stages of humanity.
Astute navigators and merchants, the Phoenicians were reputed to have given birth to the great figures of mythology including Cadmos, credited for the introduction of the alphabet to Greece and his sister, Europe, who gave her name to the European continent.
Village of Bcharre
Quaint, welcoming and charming – all words that describe this village in the heart of the Qadisha Valley. What Bcharre lacks in size, it more than makes up for in art, history and culture. The village of Bcharre is also the birthplace of Gibran Khalil Gibran, the world famous poet, artist and novelist. You will have a chance to visit the modified 7th century grotto originally designed for hiding monks that was adapted into Khalil Gibran’s tomb before becoming a museum about his life.
Khalil Gibran (1883-1931), who immigrated to The United States and published his most famous work, The Prophet in 1923, was buried in a 19th century monastery built into the rocky slopes overlooking Bcharre. The monastery, which has been converted into a museum, houses a large collection of Gibran’s paintings, drawings, gouaches and some of his manuscripts. His coffin is in the monastery’s former chapel, which is cut straight into the rock. The views of the valley from the museum’s terrace are quite amazing!
Crusader Castle of St. Gilles
The Crusader Castle of St Giles was originally built during the period from 1103 to 1104 and stood as a towering fortress above Tripoli and the river. Burned down in 1297, it was partly rebuilt the following century and is still used by the Lebanese military. Today, it’s an impressive structure whose most impressive element is the imposing entrance with its moat and three gateways (one Ottoman, one Mamluk, one Crusader).
Jeita Grottos – Lebanon’s Natural Miracles
The longest cave in the Middle East, Jeita Groota, is the pride of Lebanon. Located a short drive north of Beirut, this natural wonder has an array of breathtaking rock formations coupled with some incredible stalactites and stalagmites. A river flows through its glistening caverns and feeds the nearby Nahr al-Kalb, also known as the Dog’s River. Your visit will be sure to leave you speechless when you see what strong water currents can do over millions of years – truly an amazing sight! The cave’s name – Jeita – comes from the town within which it is located, and can be translated to ‘roar’ or ‘noise of water’.
Make this experience yours, let us help you secure your spot on this amazing adventure of a lifetime – Land of the Phoenicians. Contact us today!
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This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.