I don’t know what I expected from Lebanon’s cedars, but I don’t think it was a thin slice of forest covering the foothills of the mountains with breath-taking views on the way up.
Tall, and reminiscent of California’s redwoods, these majestic trees apparently used to cover the land.
Today, due to lack of regulation and protection, these beautiful trees are now limited to two shrinking forests.
I visited the northern cedars (125 km from Beirut), where, though already May, the snow was still visible on the nearby mountain peaks.
My plans for the day fell through, so I ended up hitching a ride with some other North Americans (they paid for the taxi!), with my friend May as our tour guide and translator.
The entrance to the park is a bit of a tourist trap, but the park itself is well-maintained and peaceful.
The entrance fee was a suggested donation of something around $5.
One of the best parts of the journey was the trek up the mountains, where I annoyed the taxi driver by calling for him to pull over every few minutes to take a few more photos.
This meant I had to wait for everyone else to unload so I could crawl from my snug spot in the third row of the station wagon.
At least the driver took advantage of the smoke break.
And I’m thinking I need to take lessons from the Lebanese on rug cleaning.
Everyone was doing it.
Vineyards, waterfalls, sweet red-roofed villages and poppies made up the scenery.
Of course, the taxi driver got pulled over at a checkpoint for having 6 people in the car instead of the allowed 5, but with a little bit of arguing and a handshake, the soldier let us go. (Sorry for being your plus-one, random tour group that I joined!)
The weather was amazing, the trees beautiful, and the drive incredible. And it was all topped off by the most perfect lunch… but then, you’ll have to wait for tomorrow for that.
Until then, remember: Lebanon’s Cedars: you should go.