Tour type: Small Group
Group size: Min: 2 | Max: 12
Accommodation: 3-4-star hotels, guesthouse & monastery
Transport: A/C car/minibus/coach
Highlights: Beirut, Beiteddine Palace, Tyre World Heritage Site, Sidon Souk, Baalbek temple complex, Ksara Caves wine tasting, Cedar Forest, Qadisha Valley, Baatara Gorge & Waterfall, Byblos harbour & history, Jeita Grotto, Harissa cable car
Situated on the Eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, Lebanon is a country rich in history, culture and boasts some of the world's oldest human settlements.
This Lebanon tour spends eight days exploring this magnificent country. From ancient Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon to the oldest continually inhabited city of Byblos, and not forgetting the City of the Sun, the well-preserved complex temple in the Middle East – Lebanon will wow you like no other. As well as discovering Lebanon's history, we also take in some of the country's beautiful scenery and natural phenomena such as the Ksara Caves, the Rock of Raouche, the Baatara Gorge Waterfall and the Jeita Grotto. Plus, you will get the chance to visit the birthplace of the renowned poet Khalil Gibran and see the famous Lebanon cedar trees that is mentioned in the Old Testament.
Single Room Supplement (LBSGLE)
Extra day in Beirut - pre-tour
We begin today by touring Lebanon's capital, Beirut – It is one of the oldest cities in the world, and has had a turbulent history, both ancient and modern. Highlights visited include the Beirut Souks, the Corniche, and the downtown region. We will also see the Pigeon Grotto, or the Rock of Raouché, a famous natural formation rising out of the sea.
Next we experience a thrilling visit to the spectacular Jeita Grotto. Here a system of limestone caves spans a distance of almost 9 kilometres, and contains one of the largest collections of stalactites and stalagmites in the world.
Finally, we visit Harissa – known for containing an important Christian shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary, known as Our Lady of Lebanon. We take a cable car to the top of the Basilica, from where we can enjoy a spectacular view of the Bay of Jounieh. We end the day in Byblos.
Today we start by touring Byblos, another ancient Phoenician city that has been inhabited since 5000 BC and is famously known as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Byblos is filled with significant historical and archaeological sites, and also features a lovely Phoenician harbour.
We'll then head inland to visit the unique Baatara Gorge sinkhole, where during the winter and especially rainy periods a 255-metre waterfall cascades into an enormous cavern known as the Baatara Pothole - this is a spectacular natural phenomenon and is perfect for a short hike.
Later in the afternoon we take a short drive to the Qadisha Valley where we spend the night in te Monastery of St. Anthony.
Qadisha Valley monastery or guesthouse
This morning you will have the option of starting the day with early morning prayers with the monks of the monastery. We'll next visit another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Qadisha Valley, known as the Holy Valley, and the Holy River, Nahr Qadisha, flows through it.
We will later explore a nearby village of Becharre – the birthplace of the iconic novelist and poet of Lebanon, Kahlil Gibran – the village contains a museum dedicated to him, featuring his paintings and manuscripts.
Finally, we head to The Cedars Ski Resort – famous for skiing and snowboarding. The area known as the Cedars of God is found nearby, and contains the last remaining groves of the cedar forests.
Extra day in Beirut - post-tour
Winter Season adjustments:
During the winter months (normally from December until sometime in May), many mountain roads in Lebanon are closed due to snow. During this period the tour will be adjusted to avoid the drive from Becharre to Zahle across the Col des Cedres. All the same places will be visited and the same activities included, but the itinerary will run as follows...
Days 1-2 - As above
Day 3 - Morning Beirut City Tour, then head to the Baatara Gorge to see the sinkhole, before finishing at the Qadisha Valley. Lunch included, and overnight at the Monastery or nearby guesthouse.
Day 4 - Morning hike in the Qadisha Valley, visit Becharre and the Cedars, then return to Byblos for overnight.
Day 5 - Explore Byblos, then drive to Zahle via Beirut, with stops on the way to discover Harissa by cable car, and to explore the Jeita Grotto. Overnight in Zahle
Days 6-8 - as above
This tour has regular small-group departures all year round starting on Saturdays. The tour is also available privately on any other dates. Please contact us for more information and prices.
The hotels and accommodations listed below are the ones we most often use on this tour. From time to time we may exchange these for similar properties at the same level. In general, specific hotels cannot be guaranteed on our group tours, but you may select your preferred options if you are booking a tailor-made trip.
The Casa D'or Hotel is a boutique 4-star hotel with a great location in the heart of the popular Hamra district of Beirut, surrounded by plenty of shops, restaurants and bars.
The Casa D'or Hotel is a boutique style 4-star rated hotel with a great location in the heart of the popular Hamra district of Beirut. There are lots of shops, restaurants, bars and banks within easy walking distance, including Beirut's largest shopping souk. The airport is around 20 minutes drive from the hotel.
All 84 rooms and suites are air-conditioned with flat screen TVs and en-suite bathrooms. Other room facilities include a mini-bar, tea/coffee tray, safety deposit box, hairdryer, toileteries, work desk and direct dial phone. Room service is available and the hotel front desk is operated 24hrs.
The hotel has a bar and restaurant on the ground level, which serves a buffet breakfast and Lebanese & international dishes for lunches and dinners.
This rustic B&B hotel is located in the Zahle city centre, within walking distance from the souks. It has several room types, and offers free WiFi. It features a bar, coffee shop, business centre, and garden.
Auberge Braidy is located in the heart of Zahle, surrounded by pubs and restaurants and near to the Zahle souks. It is a former old political house that has been refurbished into a rustic B&B hotel. It features standard, double, and twin rooms. Free WiFi is available in the rooms and public areas, and there is a business centre on site. Facilities include a coffee shop, bar, terrace, and garden, as well as a health club available for use at a partner property.
The Qozhaya Monastery is located in Lebanon’s Qadisha Valley, a World Heritage site. The guesthouse is set apart from the monastery and features simple rooms with en-suite facilities, with charming decor.
The Qozahya Monastery of St. Anthony is found in the Qadisha Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for the caves found along its steep sides. There is a guesthouse located at the monastery, which features simple but comfortable accommodation. The rooms are charmingly decorated and have en-suite facilities.
Aleph Boutique Hotel
This boutique hotel overlooks the Mediterranean in the historical city of Byblos. It is located close to the famous Byblos ruins, and has 26 rooms and suites. Free WiFi is available, as well as a range of facilities and services.
Aleph Boutique Hotel is found within the historical city of Byblos, overlooking the Mediterranean, just 5 minutes from the world’s oldest ruins. It has 26 rooms and suites with unique decor, each with TVs, minibars, and hairdryers. There are conference facilities, a rooftop restaurant, beach accessibility, a concierge service, and free WiFi in the lobby and rooms.
Our tours are designed to include all that you need to enjoy a really special time in the destination youre visiting. However, we do also offer some extra options to complement the tour and add some additional sightseeing or activities, or some extra time at either end of the tour.
All accommodation based options (e.g. Single supplements, extra nights, cruise upgrades) should be booked and paid for in advance so that we can make the appropriate arrangements. Other options may either be booked and paid for in advance or while you are on the tour, though we recommend booking in advance to ensure there are no issues with availability.
Many options are priced the same throughout the year, but some may incur single or high season supplements - full details are given on the tour reservation form or on request.
The detailed Tour Notes below have been written to give you some more detailed information about how the tour runs, what to expect, and how to prepare for your holiday. We recommend downloading an up to date copy of these shortly before you travel in case of any changes.
We use good quality 4-star hotels on this tour. Accommodation is based on twin, triple or double en-suite rooms with air conditioning. Please visit the accommodation tab of this tour for examples of the hotels normally used on this tour. If you have any specific accommodation requests please let us know and we'll be happy to provide you with a customised quotation.
You should ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including emergency evacuation and repatriation.
Recommended vaccinations and other health protection measures vary according to the country you are visiting and where you are travelling from. We recommend you contact your GP/medical practitioner or a travel clinic for current information on vaccinations needed for your destination. You should ensure that you are up to date with vaccines and boosters recommended for your normal life at home, including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions.
In addition, additional courses or boosters normally recommended for the countries in this region are:
Egypt: Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis A
Jordan: Tetanus, Hepatitis A
Israel: Hepatitis A, Poliomyelitis
Lebanon: Dipheria, Hepatitis A
Malaria is not generally present unless it has been contracted abroad; you do not need to take malaria prophylactics.
Note: We are aware of some places in Egypt using ‘black henna’ instead of pure brown henna. Black henna contains a chemical dye PPD (paraphenylenediamine) which can result in severe allergic reactions and resultant scarring. To be safe we recommend avoiding any henna tattoos while in Egypt unless you are certain they are using pure brown henna.
The time in Egypt, Jordan and Israel is GMT plus 2 hours. Daylight saving adjustments have historically been applied in some years but not others. At present it appears that there will be no daylight saving changes in Egypt 2016 and beyond, though this may change at short notice (with a resulting impact on flight times and schedules). In Jordan and Israel, daylight saving of one hour is generally applied between the end of March and the end of October, making it GMT plus 3 hours. Exact dates vary from year to year and sometimes the changes may be scrapped altogether.
Sockets are two round pronged and 220 volts (Type C). Universal adaptors are available in most airport shops if you don’t have one already. Standard European adapters will work fine, though sometimes they may feel a little loose in the sockets. All hotel rooms have electrical sockets where you can re-charge cameras, phones etc. Hair dryers are normally available on request from the hotel reception if not in your room already.
If you have US appliances (110 volts) you will need a voltage converter as well as a plug adapter.
This tour is designed as a sample tailor-made tour itinerary. As such we do not offer set group departure dates that you can join. Rather, the tour is available for you to do privately starting on any date of the year. Guideline seasonal prices are given below, based on 2 people travelling. If you would like to adjust the tour itinerary, or there will be more or less people travelling, please contact us and we will customise a price for you.
If you would like to book a place on this tour, please complete the online reservation form on our website (via the Dates & Prices tab on the tour page). You can pay your deposit or full balance online, or just hold a reservation if you prefer. We will then contact you with more details about how to complete your booking. Payments may be made by debit or credit card (subject to a card processing fee), or by making a bank transfer or posting us a cheque/bank draft. Full details will be provided in your booking confirmation email. Please contact us if you would like any more information or have any questions before making a booking.
Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our tours and needs to cover personal accident & liability, medical expenses and repatriation, travel delay & abandonment. We also strongly recommend that you take out cover against cancellation and lost/stolen baggage. Personal medical insurance does not normally provide sufficient cover and is generally not suitable for travel on our tours. You will not be able to join your tour if you have not provided us with details of your insurance or if you arrive without cover in place (no refunds will be due in this event). More information...
You may arrange your own insurance, or you can take advantage of a comprehensive policy that we can arrange for you through Endsleigh Insurance which has been designed to be suitable for our tours. The policy is available to travellers of all nationalities and you do not need to live in the UK to take out the policy. For full details of cover provided, prices and to apply for one of our policies, please complete travel insurance application form.
Note: Any country that borders the Mediterranean is considered as 'Europe' for the purposes of travel insurance (including Turkey, Israel, Egypt and Morocco). If you are doing a tour that visits one country in 'Europe' and one that is 'Worldwide' (for example, an Egypt and Jordan tour), then you need a 'Worldwide' policy. When completing the form you should enter your travel dates including any extra days involved in overnight flights or connecting travel between your home and the tour. Our policies are not able to cover any extra time or activities other than your tour and options booked with us and your travel to & from home.
If you plan to arrange a hot air balloon flight locally, or do some scuba diving during your tour, you should check the small print in your policy to make sure these are covered (these are covered in our policy). Please also check the maximum altitude that you will be reaching and that full cover including emergency evacuation is provided up to this altitude.
IMPORTANT: We must have your travel insurance details (policy number and type of insurance) before you depart or you may not be allowed to join the tour. If you haven't told us already, please let us know the details when you can. You should take a paper copy of your insurance policy with you as you may be asked to show this at the start of the tour.
We are a UK registered company and an ABTA Member (Y4447) and you can be confident when booking with us that your money is safe and protected. Financial failure insurance is provided through Affirma to protect all customers for the land portion of their tour.
Please see our website or booking conditions for more information.
It is impossible not to have an impact on the local environment, cultures and eco-systems when you travel. However, it is very possible to try and ensure that these impacts are as limited, or positive as possible. We are committed to ensuring that we try to leave our host countries in a better state than we found them and encourage and assist our travellers to help us with this.
The following are a few simple tips that require very little effort on your part but which will help ensure that any effect you have on the locations you visit is positive rather than negative.
All porters are employed and equipped following guidelines set by the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG).
You can stay in touch with us online by following us on Facebook and Twitter. We post updates on relevant travel news in our destination countries, special offers and discounts and other interesting travel related news and information.
www.twitter.com/encounterstravl (yes, without the 'e')
It is important when considering and preparing to travel anywhere in the world that you have a good understanding of the country you are visiting, its laws and customs, and the possible risks and situations that may occur. This includes specific risks related to your itinerary (eg. does it involve water & can you swim, are you fit enough for the activities included), as well as more general risks such as terrorism and natural disasters.
General details and links to more information about health risks, visa requirements, money, and travel insurance are given in these tour notes. We recommend that you re-read all these before your departure as well as the small print of your travel insurance policy so you know exactly what is covered and what is not.
You should take copies of your important travel documents with you and ideally also store them online securely as a backup. Make sure that you have given us your emergency contact details and told that person where and when you are travelling. Ensure you take enough money with you and that you have access to emergency funds.
Finally, you should read through and stay updated with the current official government travel advice for your destination. We are registered partners with the UK Foreign Office's 'Travel Aware' campaign which provides further useful and invaluable information.