Mount Lebanon is the name of the mountain range that bisects the country. They are one of its greatest gifts. In the summer they provide spectacular views, hiking, and a relaxing escape from Beirut. In the winter they provide the region’s best skiing. Throughout much of history, they protected the coastal cities from invaders, allowing trade to thrive. The highest peak is Qurnat Al Sadwa, which rises to 3,088m above sea level.
The range was once covered by Lebanon’s famous cedars. For two thousand years they provided Lebanon the region with building materials for ships and buildings. They even provided the resin used in the ancient Egyptian mummification practice. Conservation efforts date back to the Roman Empire, but in the last few centuries their numbers in the wild have steadily dwindled. Today the old growth forests only survive in isolated, higher elevations, with some trees between 1,200 and 2,000 years old. Though they’re isolated, trips to the Cedars are available.
The main attraction of Mount Lebanon is skiing. Posh resorts are scattered throughout the country. The most famous is the Mzaar Resort in the village of Faraya. The slopes are located at nearby Ouyoun Al-Siman in the Kfardebian area. During the winter, skiers from all over the Gulf and beyond converge on the resort, located 1,891m above sea level. The highest run starts at 2,463m. On a clear day you can see all the way to the Mediterranean. The skiing here compares favorably to skiing anywhere in the world, with snow machines, modern ski lifts, and challenging runs. It’s easy to see why Lebanon is nicknamed the ‘Switzerland of the Middle East’.
Location: Besharre, 120km northeast of Beirut
Hours: Open daily except Monday.
Location: 50km northeast of Beirut