There’s a reason why Lebanon is on our list of 2023 Exceptional Trips, and Lupine Travel, a tour company dedicated to delivering off-the-beaten-track adventures at an affordable price, are here to prove it…
Pearls. People everywhere recognize their beauty. Many religions refer to them in their holy texts. Despite their small size, humanity values them. Like gold, they shine. Like emeralds, they are beautiful. These little orbs of natural wonder stand for something rare and admirable.
So it makes sense that Lebanon is called ‘The Pearl of the Middle East.’ It’s one of the smallest countries in the world – yet within its borders are sights, sounds, and experiences that can only be defined as rare and admirable.
From ancient cedar trees mentioned in the world’s oldest piece of literature, to Roman ruins with a history extending into Mesopotamian times, here are two destinations you can’t miss on your next trip to Lebanon.
Even in ancient times, Baalbeck was old. The site has existed since 9000 BC. It was a holy destination – the place where Mesopotamians, Romans, Christians, and Muslims would go to find spiritual nourishment throughout different eras.
The structures still standing today are from the Roman imperial period and were built over two centuries. Pilgrims came here to worship the Heliopolitan Triad: Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury. The Temple of Jupiter is a massive structure with twenty-metre high columns. The Temple of Venus is completely original, making it one of the most unique and harmonious structures of its time. A stairway carved from rock serves as the last remaining structure from the Temple of Mercury.
Visit Baalbeck, and you will travel through history itself. Your feet will walk the same trails that ancient pilgrims walked, travelling in search of wonder, hope, and spiritual guidance. While you may have your own motivations for visiting this iconic destination, just as it did your predecessors, Baalbeck will leave you stunned. It’s gorgeous, powerful, and hums with the forces of antiquity.
The Epic of Gilgamesh is the oldest surviving work of literature, written between 2,100 and 1,200 BC. In it, Gilgamesh takes a six-day journey through the Cedar Forest and its vast body of trees, where he fights the demon Humbaba. Later, he cuts down the entire forest to make a gate for the city of Nippur.
Unfortunately, Gilgamesh’s deforestation was a sign of what was to come. Over the last few centuries, cedar forests have been razed down by humans. Where once the mountains of Lebanon were thick with these giant trees, today’s vegetation is much more sparse. Cedars, the main emblem of Lebanon’s flag, have been reduced to a few surviving pockets deep within the Lebanese mountains.
Fortunately, things are looking up.
In recent years, conservation efforts within Lebanon have produced impressive results. Go to the Forest of the Cedar of God, and you will see a thriving population of these coniferous trees. Around the country, cedars are treated with love and many protected areas have been established, ensuring that the symbol of Lebanon will survive for generations to come.
Walking among these behemoths is a rare natural experience, yet as time goes on, cedar populations will continue to grow. Humanity went from exploiting cedars in the past, to ensuring their survival in the present – a vital turnaround, and one which you will see in action on your next trip to Lebanon.
While the Roman ruins of Baalbeck and the cedar forests are two must-see destinations, they are just a sliver of Lebanon. The Pearl of the Middle East has it all. Every type of traveller can feel at home here. So book a ticket, pack your bag, and prepare for a trip to one of the finest countries in the Middle East, or, perhaps, the world.
Lupine Travel offer tours that promote the economic growth of its destinations, while also protecting the communities, environment, and people that make these places unique. Operating since 2008, they currently offer trips to over 30 different countries.
You can find more information about this Exceptional Trip, including details on how to book it, on the Lupine Travel website.
See the full list of 2023 Exceptional Trips here.