Bcharre and evirons - the Cedars and Qadisha Gorge
Bcharre and evirons - the Cedars and Qadisha Gorge Reviews
Scenic Mountain Escape in Lebanon Jan 11, 2010
Introduction: I just had to write a review for Bcharre, one of the most beautiful and unique towns that I have ever had the pleasure of visiting.
Bcharre Town: The ride up from Tripoli along the side of the Qadisha gorge is an attraction in itself. You can view many monasteries and small towns clinging to the side of the steep cliffs. Beware as the road from Bcharre to Baalbek crosses over a high mountain pass, and is often closed due to snow. I visited in May, and the pass was still closed so I had to conduct a six hour round trip via Beirut and Tripoli.
During my visit, the kindness of the locals in Bcharre was uncanny. Locals would openly greet me upon seeing that I was a tourist, and congratulate me on my Christianity after seeing my necklace (northern Lebanon is predominantly Christian. French is used in daily Arabic in this region, with ‘Bonjour, Merci and Bonvoyage’ replacing the phrases I was used to hearing in the Middle East.
The town of Bcharre is very quaint, I stayed at the fantastic Tiger Nest (I’ll review it if I get more details) at the top of the town. It was fun to interact with the locals, who are all very educated and speak excellent English. There are a variety of places to eat, one restaurant is under a waterfall. All locations have great views and sell cold beer. I recommend to find somewhere to settle down and watch life tick by.
The Cedars: I hiked from Bcharre up to the Cedars, it took about two hours. I’d recommend getting a taxi really, as the final viewpoint beats any others on route. Bear in mind that Bcharre is 1600 metres above sea level, and the Cedars are almost another 600 metres higher. Arriving at the Cedars a local souvenir store holder immediately made me a wodden key chain and burnt my name on it, for free. She nearly didn’t accept money for postcards I bought too – another example of kindness.
I visited Bcharre in May, and there was still some snow on the ground. Sadly I was informed that the Cedars, where thousand year old Lebanon Cedar trees now stand, was in fact closed for the season. Nearby souvenir store holders told me not to worry, and instructed me to climb over the fence using one of their plastic chairs. 'You've come all this way after all' they told me! The Cedars themselves are interesting enough, it’s fantastic to imagine all the things that they have witnessed throughout their long lifetimes. In winter the Cedars is a bustling ski resort.
The Qadisha Gorge: If you don’t want to hike up to the Cedars, you can hike down or around either side of the deep Qadisha Gorge. Beware you have to come out eventually though! It was quite unusual for me, this being the first time a hike has been harder on the return leg.
As the walls of the gorge close in, the tranquil greenery is only penetrated by a fast flowing mountain river. There are a few scenic food stops on route, but they do not spoil the beauty. A number of secluded monasteries occupy areas of the gorge, and they are always delighted to show you around, the caretakers never asking for a donation, but obviously it is better to. There are plenty of different places to exit the gorge, I came back out after a couple of miles and caught a mini bus back to Bcharre from the northern cliff edge.
The path down to the Qadisha gorge starts behind Bcharre’s large red church in the photos. The Lonely Planet map of the gorge will suffice, but if you can, get a better one. There are food/water selling facilities in the gorge, who are capable of calling a taxi (long drive out the bottom) if you get too tired.
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