Lebanon has been a melting pot of many civilizations, beginning with the Phoenicians, who see their origins from what today is Sidon in southern Lebanon, to later conquerors, occupiers and more; Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Crusaders, Arabs and more. The diversity of Lebanon is embodied into the country’s Constitution which provides representation for its eighteen confessional groups, ranging from Christians, Muslims, Druze and other confessional groups.
Having gone through a lengthy civil war from the mid-1970’s until 1990, Lebanon has been rebuilding both physically and psychologically. Throughout its modern years, it has been known for its ability to revitalize itself due to the education and business ingenuity of its people. Today Lebanon is playing host to more than two-million Syrian refugees, swelling the country’s own population of some six million people. Part of the revitalization is due to the nearly 14 million Lebanese in the diaspora who continue to support their home country thru their remittances and investments.
Iconic Journeys Worldwide has always seen travel as a way of educating travelers to the reality of a destination, as well as being a cultural bridge in the process. This very special tour of Lebanon follows embodies philosophy.
Joining us throughout this tour is noted Lebanese Professor Ziad Fahed, whose efforts to cross the country’s confessional divides extends to the university environment, his cable television show’s discussions and the reality of bringing people together. With a Doctorate in Theology from the Catholic University of Lyon- France and a Fulbright recipient, his research focus has been religion and politics, inter religious dialogue and pluralism.
Co-hosting this tour with his friend Dr. Fahed will be Iconic Journeys Worldwide founder
A specialist in Middle East and North Africa, Philadelphia based Jerry is a veteran activist in using travel as a cultural bridge and has spent many years both traveling and living in the Middle East and North Africa regions, having led tours to many destinations in the region. He is also an adjunct at
Temple University’s Osher Institute.
Day 1, Wednesday, June 12: Arrival to Beirut
Upon arrival into Beirut, you will be transferred to your hotel in central Beirut. We will embark on some light touring after participants have had a chance to refresh themselves at the hotel.
With a long tradition for its cuisine, tonight’s “Welcoming Dinner” will be just one of many Lebanese culinary treats that will be interwoven throughout the trip. Overnight in Beirut. (D)
Day 2, Thursday, June 13 – Touring Beirut
Today we tour Beirut, a city spread out between the Mediterranean and the mountains. There are times during the years when Lebanese can swim in the sea and then drive to the mountains to ski. Our touring will take us through some of the neighborhoods that were central during the country’s civil war which have since undergone renovations, as well as discovery of archaeological remains.
We will also learn throughout this trip how the many faiths and ethnic groups among the Lebanese interact in daily life, from the confessional system of the government, to neighborhoods to more outlying regions of Lebanon that we will visit in the days to come.
Dinner and overnight in Beirut. (B, L, D)
Day 3, Friday, June 14 – Southern Lebanon
Today’s touring will take us to southern Lebanon, where we visit Tyre, a Phoenician city, also referred to as “Sour”, its name from Roman times. Our visit will include meeting with the Iman Sader Foundation, an organization that focuses on providing education, health and women’s empowerment, with one of its most important aspects being education for kids with special needs.
We continue our visit of southern Lebanon by visiting another coastal town, Sidon, referred to as “Saida” in Arabic. We will walk thru the marketplace (souk) of Sidon and its former caravansaries, including a visit to one of the city’s old soap factories, and the Citadel of St. Louis which dates to the 11th century Crusader period.
Before returning to Beirut, we will also have time to visit the 8th Century Cathedral of St. Nicolas and learn about this place where the Apostles Peter and Paul met while Paul was on his way to Rome.
Late day return to Beirut. Overnight in Beirut. (B, L, D)
Day 4, Saturday, June 15 – The Bekaa Valley
Today is a long day, but one filled with lots of wonderful visits. We check out of our Beirut hotel and head east to the region of the Bekaa Valley. Along the way we will visit the Ommayid ruins of Anjar, today a city with a large Armenian population.
We then continue to Baalbek where we visit this large and impressive antiquity site, whose origins date to the Greek period from the 3rd century BC and then under the Romans.
From Baalbeck, we travel to a nearby winery, Chateau Ksara, one of many in Lebanon. The wonderful climate of the Bekaa Valley has allowed it to be a source of vineyards dating back generations. We will have an opportunity to taste the wines of Ksara, enjoy lunch and visit the extensive underground caverns that store the wine.
From Ksara, we continue to Zahle, a city near the Beirut – Damascus road and after Beirut and Tripoli, Lebanon’s third largest city. The population is predominantly Christian, the majority of whom are Greek Catholic. As we will find throughout much of our touring in Lebanon, the various Christian communities have always been a more part of the Lebanese population, particularly in the rural regions and mountains. Overnight in Zahle. (B, L, D)
Day 5, Sunday, June 16 – more of eastern Lebanon
This morning after touring the town of Zahle and seeing the Berdawni River, which plays an important role in the town, we depart and head to the Cedars. This is a beautiful, mountainous area and forested reserve where, needless to say, is the heart of the Cedars, an important symbol to Lebanon and featured on the country’s flag. Among the beautiful mountain villages we will visit is that of Bcharre. It is hear where one finds the museum and burial grounds of Lebanon’s most famous poet and write, Khalil Gibran. While Gibran lived much of his life in the US, its is here in Bcharre that he chose to return and live out his later life. Overnight in Bcharee. (B, L, D)
Day 6, Monday, June 17 – Qadisha Valley
Today we visit the beautiful Qadisha Valley. Hikers come from Beirut and other places to hike this beautiful area and also learn about its important role in the life of Christians in Lebanon. We will not make it a strenuous walk, but the experience will require a modest level of physical activity.
From the Qadisha Valley, we return to the coast and stop in Byblos, home to Phoenician, Roman and Crusader ruins. Today, this port city has been revitalizing itself since Lebanon’s civil war and has become a popular resort area for Lebanese and other tourists. We will have time to explore as well having free time to enjoy this charming town, followed by dinner in Byblos.
Post-dinner return to Beirut. Overnight in Beirut. (B, L, D)
Day 7, Tuesday, June 18 – Beirut area
This morning we go to the outskirts of Beirut to visit the Jeita Grottos, spectacular underground limestone crystallized into beautiful stalactites and stalagmites.
We then return to Beirut for some final touring and the opportunity to have some time to explore and have lunch on your own.
We then return to our hotel and tonight enjoy a wonderful “Farewell Dinner. Overnight in Beirut. (B, D)
Day 8, Wednesday, June 19 – Departure
Transfer to be arranged to the airport for departure flight(s) from Beirut.
Iconic Journeys Worldwide reserves the right to make itinerary changes, if necessary.
NOTE: U.S. citizens are eligible to receive their visa to Lebanon at the airport upon arrival. Passports must have at least six months remaining prior to expiration. Passports with stamps showing travel to Israel will be cause for denial of entering Lebanon.
Beirut: The Four Seasons or similar
Zahle: Massabki or similar
Serai: Hotel Le Tournant or similar
Beirut: Le Gabriel Sofitel or similar
$5,395 Per Person. Single or Double Occupancy.
* Meals included as indicated by B, L, D. Any other references to meals are for logistical purposes, only.
* Domestic air
* Hotels listed in itinerary or comparable properties.
* English speaking guide and private vehicle
* English speaking Lebanese specialist, in addition to local guides.
* Private vehicle with driver
* Any purchases of a personal nature, hotel expenditures such as laundry, mini-bar, business center related expenses and spa expenses. All expenses in addition to included room and breakfast
* Gratuities to guide and driver
* Alcoholic drinks not included during group meals.
* International air
Pre and Post Tour Options: Iconic Journeys Worldwide will be happy to arrange pre and post tours to Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and other destinations in the region.