My first hike in Lebanon! (and my first EPIC FAIL poster)

Last Sunday, I went on my very first like in Lebanon.  I KNOW, I KNOW..I shouldn’t have waited soooo long to hike for the very first time.  But you know how it is, something always seems to come up (laziness, late night pubbing, laziness, and more laziness).  Especially when going on a hike requires you to wake up at 6:30am on  SUNDAY!! (that’s  an hour and a half earlier than I wake up on workdays!!)  No excuse, I know.

Anyway, I’m writing this to say that I had an INCREDIBLE time, and all thanks to the persistence @mjoundi who has been trying to persuade me to go on a hike for about a year now (during which time he has completed around 19 hikes!!).   Thank you dude, for opening up my eyes to a side of Lebanon that I didn’t know..and you were right..one time is enough to officially get you hooked!

Hiking in Lebanon

Our hike through Turbul..not bad for my first time, right?!?!😀

My first hike was to Jabal Turbul, a round-topped peak, which stands 681 m high and boasts excellent views of Tripoli, the Al-Mina coastline, Palm Island, Syria, and Ouyoun el Samak.  Jabal Turbul is a barren landscape, which makes spring the ideal time for hiking there since the weather is cool and spring flowers are in bloom.  I went on the hike with Vamos Todos, “an ecotourism club that promotes and encourages the love of nature amongst its members, thus seeing life through a new perspective.”  According to their website, “The name Vamos Todos , which means “Let’s go all together” was chosen to reflect the spirit of our club, where everyone can participate in any of the multitude of activities which will be organized for you, with one major goal in mind: HAVING A GREAT TIME.”

Hiking in Lebanon

Marc, our guide and the founder of Vamos Todos, explains exactly where we are.. close to the Syrian border..

The hike was absolutely fantastic (I really liked the fact that there were different levels for newbie hikers like me), the views breathtaking, the people friendly, and the air CLEAN!!!  I had forgotten what it felt like to breathe in clean, non-polluted air.  It was so refreshing.  Being up there completely recharges your batteries.

Hiking in Lebanon

Check out that view...!! As you can see, the terrain is very rocky..which reminds me, if I'm going to be doing this more often, I need to invest in some proper shoes. My Nike's just ain't going to cut it!

Early on in our hike we came across a Shepard and his sheep (oh, and a huge telephone tower thingy which looms in the background).  I just had to get a photo..

Hiking in Lebanon

That would be ME with goats! and a Shepard. (Don't think I've ever seen a Shepard before..)

I don’t know much about the history nor the geography of Lebanon..I will be the first to say that.  But I was really surprised to find turtles, shells, and fossilized coral all along our hike!  It’s obvious that this land was once under water.

Hiking in Lebanon

Aww da widdle baby tuuuuurtle! I must've seen about five of these throughout the day..

Hiking in Lebanon

A shell I picked up on the trail..I put it in my backpack to keep as a souvenir

Hiking in Lebanon

Fossilized coral in the rock

Next to the turtles, shells, and fossils were..you guessed it..shotgun shells.  Which, as you can imagine, didn’t really make me feel comfortable, especially when we passed quite a few people walking around nonchalantly with a shotgun over their shoulder.  Did they know that people hike there occasionally?  Even if they did, I don’t think they care.

Hiking in Lebanon

Shot gun shells were scattered everywhere along the way..

One of the more striking photos of the day was taken when we stopped for a rest at Turbul Church.  Everyone was really shocked to see how this woman was bending, cutting, and picking whatever herbs it was she was after.  I mean, just look at her!  She must be well into her 70’s!  Seeing her in this position reminded me of Krikorian’s post “She is still working.”

Hiking in Lebanon

OUCH!

And what would a hike through the mountains be without running into the proverbial village donkey!

Hiking in Lebanon

Hello dunkeyyy..where's SHREK?

And so we continued..onwards through Turbul..

Hiking in Lebanon

One of my favorite photos of the hike. It looks as if we are falling off the face of the Earth!

Until we stopped for lunch.

I have to pause for a second to pay tribute to the man below.  He is a 75 year old (I think) Italian man who has been living in Lebanon for the past 25 years.  Kind of like me, he came here for a month long project, and never left!  He goes on these hikes every Saturday and Sunday and always chooses the most advanced level.  I was so surprised to see him get off of the bus before me, to tackle the steepest part of the mountain, with his camera around his neck and heavy backpack on his back.  If you look closely, he is sitting next to a pot of coffee which he brewed and then proceeded to pass around to everyone during lunchtime!  What a gem!

Hiking in Lebanon

The most fascinating man on the trip.

As we made our descent back to the bus, we came upon a group of children really eager to had their picture taken..  I couldn’t resist..their smiles and enthusiasm were contagious.

Hiking in Lebanon

A group of children we ran into along the way...

Before heading back to Beirut, we stopped to visit a mosque with an old tomb inside.  While on the way up there, @mjoundi and I spotted this..someone found a new use for an ABC Dbayeh poster.  How resourceful!

Hiking in Lebanon

Found: ABC Dbayeh poster now being used as a curtain.

Overall, I had a wonderful day, I’m sure you can see that.  But hell, something has to be done to solve the Sunday evening traffic issue heading back to Beirut!  UGHH!!

Hiking in Lebanon

Sitting in traffic for an hour and a half on the way back to Beirut is NOT COOL!

And this post wouldn’t be complete without me showing you a little something special that @mjoundi created for me.  You can take the girl out of the city, but you can’t take the city out of the girl!  (To be fair, I was bbming friends and telling them what a great time I was having! lool)

Epic Fail Poster

Guilty as charged! (Loving my first Epic Fail poster though..)

To see panoramas from my hike click here!

All photos taken by @mjoundi

40 Comments

Filed under life in Lebanon

40 responses to “My first hike in Lebanon! (and my first EPIC FAIL poster)

  1. Great (highly detailed) post!!! I should go hiking again…if I could wake up that is! : P

  2. BBM Madness I suppose😛 #EpicFail indeed LOL

  3. I am not a hiking person and probably would never be🙂 but checking out your photos gives us a breath of fresh air, they are amazing and remind us of the beauty of our nature especially to someone living in the dessert right now (me)😀 Thank you for sharing this wonderful post, glad you are having a great time🙂

  4. What a great experience! What an opportunity and great photos. I loved the turtle, how cuuuuuute. And the beauty of blogging is that we get to share the day with you🙂

  5. Hiking is one of my favorite activities during spring and summer… and this my friend is just the tip of the iceberg… last year I learned that there is something called the LMT (Lebanon Mountain Trail) done by the USAID. Gorgeous locations all around!

    • My friend Mokhtar was telling me about that! Apparently it’s like a two week thing! Sounds fantastic! Not sure if I’m up for that just yet tho..I’m still a novice!

      • Well, yes, the April Walk-thru is for pros… but they have opportunities for people who want to meet up for a day or two. Tomorrow evening I’m setting off to meet them for the weekend hike… my first weekend trip… I’ll keep you posted then🙂

  6. Looks like you had a ton of fun😉 If you plan to hike some more, you might want to look into a pair of Timberlands – I usually wear those when I am up hiking, they’re good.

    Congrats on your first #epicfail poster!

  7. Fadi

    cool post! I’ve been trying to go on one of these hikes but something has always come up on Sundays, hopefully I’ll manage to go soon

  8. Great summary and observations, although you failed to mention the part where you started crying you wanted to go home half-way through😉 (j/k)

  9. Sietske

    Finally! You’re getting out of the city! I’m looking foreward to more post. And what’s tha nifty little device that shows your the route and elevation? I want one!!!!! What is it? A GPS?

  10. Youssef Chaker

    My friend was a guide for Vamos Todos before he moved to KSA for work. I wonder if he’s still doing it now that he’s back in Lebanon (I should ask).

    That Italian man should be sponsored by Dos Equis😛

    Man, that looks like a great time, i might have to sacrifice a sunday when I’m there and do it!

  11. mjoundi

    @ Sietske: I record the GPS waypoints and other data using an iPhone, then designed that visual you see up there based on those stats.

  12. what a great hike you had! and lovely photos… you sure got the best out of it! I used to hike every sunday with Esprit Nomade and Greenline association, until i met my husband (hiker too) and got married and got our first child! that is when i last hiked! 7 years ago! I really should start again!!! fresh air and nature!
    you must visit the Lebanon Mountain Trail Association website, see what they are up too!!!! http://www.lebanontrail.org/
    happy hiking

    • So nice to see you here leelouz! (love ur blog btw..so inspirational!) 7 years since you last hiked? WOW! You should definitely pick it up again, no? And take your daughter along with you!!

      • thank you for your sweet comments! My blog is a mirror of what goes on in my head!!! and yes, IT is time to go hiking again, with the little ones…guess i would have to create my own hiking association for families with kids!! and by the way, check out LMT (my brother is the president of the association and has walked every single km of it, back and forth… you can do it in sections, so 1 days trip is also feasible!)

      • Really? That’s amazing! I will definitely check it out..and I think that creating your own association would be a raving success!😀

  13. Terry

    First of all, my thanx to @mjoundi for the great pics, stats and bringing this blog to my attention. I moved back to Lebanon from California about 2 years ago. Instead of joining the various hiking groups in Lebanon, I decided to organize hikes for Cyclamen instead as a way of being involved on a regular basis and meeting environmentally minded people. I encourage you to make such outings a regular activity in your life. I’m not going to list the benefits you may reek here. You should already know that by now. My advice is to try as many groups as possible. Each group has a different style, flavor, pace, and type of hikers. They’re all fun!
    Advice from a true and tested hiker and an aspiring mountaineer (currently working with Gravity Trek organizing mountaineering trips to Mt. Everest base camp, Mt. Ararat, Kilimanjaro, ect…), if you intend to purchase legitimate hiking boots (though selection is limited in Lebanon) go for the known professional outdoors brands, such as North Face (Mike Sport), Columbia (Sports 4 Ever), Dolomite (La Maison Du Ski), Osolo, Tecnica, Mammut, Montrail, Keen, Merrell, Lowa, etc… Novice and non-hikers have this notion that classic Timberland boots are actually hiking boots. They’re NOT! Though Timberland makes specific boots for hiking, I’ve never seen them in Lebanon. Hiking boots are the single most important hiking equipment any hiker should possess. Proper hiking boots MUST have waterproof Gore Tex liners or the like; Stiff Vibram bottom soles; ergonomic insoles, gusseted tongs to keep water & debris out; breathable and waterproof leather, fabric or a combination of both top; and finally solid ankle support. Classic Timberlands don’t offer most of these. I can’t even count the times I encountered Timberland wearing hikers with sore blistered wet feet that were begging in agony to end their suffering half-way through the trail. Disclaimer: I got nothing against the Timberland brand by the way. Just hate to see people fall into the same pitfall other uninformed hikers have before.
    Any advice regarding anything hiking or the outdoors, feel free to pester @mjoundi for my contact info. Be glad to help.
    Happy hiking!

    • Thank you for the long, detailed, and valuable comment! I will surely be looking into buy a pair of PROPER hiking boots as I intend to make hiking a regular activity!! Such a refreshing change to get out of the city and get to know a different side of Lebanon. Hope to meet you on a hike one of these days!😀

  14. Wow! Beautiful photos! The most I’ve seen is from Harissa which has a great view but I hear going to the south is gorgeous… glad you had fun and may you take many more hikes and post amazing photos. Hopefully, when in Lebanon, one day I’ll have a chance to do this, it looks fun!

  15. mjoundi

    @keelouz: I’ve been with Esprit Nomade a couple times, but had no idea they’ve been around for that long. As for the LMTA, they’re having the 2011 through-walk this month- and people can join along the wa, for different lengths of time. For those who don’t know, they hike the entire length of Lebanon’s mountain range (440km) in 28 days.

    @Terry: Thanks for the incredibly informative post. I’m sure many will benefit from it, I know I did. It’s true that footwear can make all the difference in having a comfortable/enjoyable time.

    • mjoudi: esprit nomade has been for a while, and Nidal ghorayeb the creator and owner of it is a good friend of mine, he used to hike with us during the Greenline days!! LMT is a great way of seeing all of Lebanon, the brochure is found at all bookstores, 10 usd i think.. with explanations on each section… A Million Steps is the book written by a Hanah El hibri who hiked the entire trail 2 years ago. (beautiful pic!)..

      • Mok

        Yeah, Nidal is a great guy. It seems many of these guides who have founded their own hiking groups did so after embarking on hikes with other companies, learning the ropes and recognizing the potential market opportunity.

        And yes, I own that book, it’s fantastic, and one of the factors that motivated me to want to see more of the country. I’ve also hiked with several other people featured in the book, such as Lise-Lotte, who is currently a guide with Libantrek. The mix of photography and personal insights make it a very worthwhile and engaging read for anyone with even a passing interest in the subject matter.

  16. Way to go girl! The views look breathtaking🙂 I’ve been on several trips with Vamos Todos and they’re one of the best groups out there for outdoor activities.. Always a fun group!

    BTW did you end up getting a camera to brush up on your photography skills?😉 When i first saw the pics I thought they were actually yours and was gonna comment how well they came out lol!

  17. WOW! Beautiful photos!!!
    And very nicely written Dani. Kept me engaged while i read this.
    Can’t wait for my own hiking experience now! Thanks for sharing..

  18. Mok

    Just for the sake of equality, here’s a page which lists many of the hiking groups in Lebanon, with their respective websites. (note there’s a 2nd page, by clicking on the arrow @ bottom). I’ve been several of them and agree with what Terry already mentioned, in that they’re all unique in their own way, and some may be personally attractive than others depending on your preferred hiking group size, average ages, level, meeting point, etc.

    http://www.discoverlebanon.com/en/directory/index_v.Eco-Tourism%20&%20Hiking_28.html

  19. I love this! I’ve got to take my kids (on an easy one).

  20. Pingback: Better you than me! | This is Beirut

  21. Carina

    So much great information here. As I mentioned in another response, Im planning on moving to Lebanon soon and Im looking to get more active (well, just active in general coz Im a coach potato lol). The trip looks amazing!
    Ive come across the group Tados Vamos and cant wait to go on my first hike!

    The other posts here were so informative too. This is such an awesome blog😀

    I think the BBMing is a testimony to how much fun you were having😉

  22. Richard

    BBM? Was this in 2005?

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