From Phoenicians to Contemporary Society
March 20- 29, 2020
Lebanon has been a melting pot of many civilizations, beginning with the Phoenicians, to later conquerors, and occupiers; Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Crusaders, Arabs and more. The diversity of Lebanon is embodied in the country’s Constitution which provides representation for its eighteen confessional groups, ranging from Christians, Muslims, Druze, and other confessional groups. Today, Lebanon is playing host to more than two million Syrian refugees, swelling the country’s own population of some six million people.
Participants will have the opportunity to meet with members from many of the country’s confessional groups and organizations involved with inter-faith dialogue, as well as exploring this country which remains an off-the-beaten tourist path to Americans. Leading this special mission will be Founder Jerry Sorkin, who has a long involvement in various forms of diplomacy.
JERRY SORKIN has been involved with Middle East issues for more than three decades, having quietly brought together people from various sides of the issues since the late 1970s. Conversant in several languages, including Arabic, Jerry travels extensively throughout the MENA region including having been based more than six years in Tunisia. Jerry represents Tunisia’s Foreign Ministry as Honorary Consul for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
ITINERARY: Specifics on speakers/groups will be updated upon confirmation. All meetings subject to change due to unforeseen events. Substitute speakers with a similar background will participate, lead-in time permitting.
Day 1, Friday, March 20- Departure for Beirut
Depart the US for your overnight flight to Beirut, Lebanon.
Day 2, Saturday, March 21- Beirut arrival
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. (B, D)
Day 3, Sunday, March 22- Touring Beirut
Today we tour Beirut, a city spread out between the Mediterranean and the mountains. There are times during the year 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 has since undergone renovations, as well as the discovery of archaeological remains. Touring, while visiting Beirut, will include the Archaeological Museum of Beirut, as well as a walking tour through areas of Beirut that were resurrected under the project, beginning under the auspices of Solidere Construction. The Solidere district is a modern construction to help revive the very heart of Beirut that was so heavily damaged during the years of Lebanon’s Civil War, from 1974 – 1990.
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 4, Monday, March 23- Beirut and Jeita Grotto
Today we will have some briefings with either political actors/academics/journalists.
We then depart for an excursion to the Jeita Grotto outside of Beirut.
For your independent dining tonight, suggestions will be provided as well as for instructions on how to get around.
Overnight in Beirut. (B, L)
Day 5, Tuesday, March 24- 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 a 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 through 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.
Later today we return to Beirut. Overnight in Beirut. (B, L, D)
Day 6, Wednesday, March 25- 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 via Zahle (a city near Beirut), the Damascus road, and after Beirut, we head to 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 part of the Lebanese population, particularly in the rural regions and mountains. We continue with our primary stop for today being Baalbek, where we visit this large and impressive archaeological site whose origins date to the Greek period from the 3rd century BC and then under the Romans.
From Baalbek, we travel to one of the many wineries of Lebanon; Chateau Ksara. 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 north and west, through scenic mountain villages, eventually arriving at our base for the next two nights at Serai. Overnight in Serai. (B, L, D)
Day 7, Thursday, March 26- more of eastern Lebanon
This morning we depart and head to the Cedars. This is a beautiful, mountainous area and forested reserve where one finds cedar trees; an important symbol to Lebanon and is featured on the country’s flag. The cedar trees have become an endangered tree and can no longer be forested. Among the beautiful mountain villages that we will visit is that of Bcharre. It is here where one finds the museum and burial grounds of Lebanon’s most famous poet and writer, Khalil Gibran. While Gibran lived much of his life in the US, it is here in Bcharre that he chose to return and live out his later life. Return to Serai. Overnight in Serai. (B, L, D)
Day 8, Friday, March 27- Qadisha Valley
Today we visit the beautiful Qadisha Valley. Hikers come from Beirut and other places like to hike this beautiful area and 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 drive to the coast and stop in Byblos, home to Phoenician, Roman, and Crusader ruins. Claimed to be the oldest, continually inhabited city, Byblos’s ancient 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 the archaeological ruins, as well as 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 9, Saturday, March 28- Beirut area
This morning we visit an outdoor market called ‘Souk el Tawlet’, which brings local farmers and producers of many food products to Beirut for the day to show their products.
We will have some final touring in Beirut before giving you the opportunity to have time to explore and have
lunch on your own. We will later rendezvous at our hotel and tonight we will enjoy a wonderful “Farewell
Dinner. Overnight in Beirut. (B, D)
Day 10, Sunday, March 29- Departure
Transfer to be arranged to the airport for departure flight(s) from Beirut. (B)
NOTE: Iconic Journeys Worldwide reserves the right to make itinerary changes, if necessary.
NOTE: U.S. citizens are eligible to receive their visas 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.
Myra, our local Lebanese guide throughout the tour.
Beirut: Intercontinental Le Vendome ★★★★★
Serai: Ehden Hotel★★★★★
Beirut: The Four Seasons ★★★★★
COSTS: All costs covered on the ground, including guides, bus & drivers, hotels, transfers for those participants with the designated group air, plus all meals including local wines, if alcohol is served as part of the group meal. Honorariums for guest speakers, donations to organizations and high-level meetings are included.
NOT INCLUDED: International air. Any purchases of a personal nature, hotel expenditures such as laundry, mini-bar, business center related expenses and spa expenses. Gratuities to Lebanese guides and drivers. Travel Insurance is highly recommended. We recommend Allianz to our clients, but guests can use whichever company they wish. Please note that Iconic Journeys Worldwide does not offer travel insurance, so any questions regarding travel insurance policies will have to be answered directly by the insurance company.
Cost per person: $5,800 per person, based double occupancy.
Single supplement: $550 per person.
PAYMENTS: All reservation forms must be accompanied by a deposit of $500.00 per person. Full payment of the balance is due 60 days prior to departure. Checks for the balance or for the deposit should be made payable to Iconic Journeys Worldwide, the tour operator. Iconic Journeys Worldwide also accepts Visa, MasterCard, American Express, plus a 3% processing fee that will be applied for balances paid by credit card. Deposits may be paid by credit card and will not incur the 3% processing fee.
CANCELLATION: All cancellations must be received in writing.
1. Cancellations received up to December 1, 2019 – $250.00 per person will be assessed.
2. December 1, 2019 – January 11, 2020 – forfeit $500.00 per person plus any cancellation from suppliers.
3. January 12 – March 13, 2020 – forfeit $2,500 per person.
4. March 14 to departure– no refund.
5. There will be no refunds for unused services.
VISA & HEALTH: A valid passport is required for all participants. There is no Visa requirement for citizens of the USA to travel to Lebanon, though 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. Other nationals should contact the appropriate consulate for regulations.
BAGGAGE: Baggage is limited to 1 piece of luggage per person and may not be larger than 62 inches or exceed 50 lb. One piece of carry-on luggage is allowed, the total combined dimensions not to exceed 45 inches. Baggage is at “own risk” throughout the tour. Iconic Journeys Worldwide is not responsible for lost or damaged baggage.