A day in the Chouf

With the weather really starting to heat up, and facing the prospect of yet another weekend at home in Beirut, we decided to go exploring in the Chouf district. This mountainous area south-east of Beirut is the heartland of the Druze and is one of the less spoiled parts of Lebanon.

Key highlights are the fabulous 18th century Beiteddine palace, the Jumblatt ancestral home, and one of Lebanon’s two remaining cedar forests (the other, more famous forest is in the hills above Bcharre, see here).

We had a lovely time driving around the mountains, never getting lost thanks to Alex’s new GPS (which he got for his birthday the other day).

But the highlight was the cedar reserve. It was just lovely to be the only people sitting under the cedars, enjoying the cool breeze blowing up the valley and with a soft bed of pine needles underfoot. There was nobody else about and we had this magical place to ourselves. Mitchell loved being able to roam, although he did have a particular interest with throwing rocks off the edge of the platform. Sheridan really enjoyed getting out and stretching her legs too. Alex just found the fresh air to be so invigorating after day upon day of air conditioning in smoggy Beirut.

Of course, there is always the sad knowledge that Lebanon’s mountains used to be covered with these magnificent old trees, some of which would have been alive when Jesus and his friends wandered through the area.

For more info about the Chouf Cedar Reserve, check out this website.

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