Phoenician Riches – A Luxury Tour of Lebanon

Embark, in style, on an adventure to the crossroads of humanity, on this tour to discover wonders past and present in the land of Lebanon. Explore the trading centres of Byblos and Tyre, used by the mysterious Phoenician peoples to ship goods all over the ancient Mediterranean world. Wander through the streets of one of the most epic archaeological wonders ever discovered at the site of Baalbek and gaze in awe at the huge temples of Jupiter, king of the Gods, and Bacchus, god of wine. Take some time out for the finer things in life with visits with vineyards to taste some of Lebanon’s famous wine, eat in some of the countries best restaurants and even learn to cook a traditional Lebanese meal.

Walk among the Cedar trees in the Kadisha Valley, visit the beautiful Beiteddine Palace and learn all about Lebanese handicraft making at Bkerzay.

This tour is all of the adventure with none of the inconvenience! Stay in beautiful boutique and historic hotels throughout, experience a stay in a working monastery in the Kadisha Valley and relax in an eco-retreat near Shouf.


LUXURY TOUR OF LEBANON HIGHLIGHTS

  • Explore the imposing archaeological site of Baalbek which includes two of the largest Roman Temples ever discovered
  • Visit the small coastal cities of Byblos and Tyre, two of the oldest inhabited places on Earth and which were used as trading ports by the Phoenicians, a people who traded with Egypt, Mesopotamia, Anatolia and Greece
  • Explore the ‘Cedars of God Forest’ and walk among the trees famed in the land of Lebanon since the dawn of civilisation
  • Learn to make a home cooked Lebanese meal and taste some of the wine Lebanon is famous for at a chateau in Ksara
  • Stay in boutique hotels throughout as well as a working monastery in the Kadisha Valley and mountain retreat near Shouf, the perfect way to unwind on your luxury tour of Lebanon.

The Basics

Start: Beirut

Finish: Beirut

Trip style: Luxe

Max group size: 15

15 Days

BEIRUT – BEIRUT

$10 750 AUD*

Departure date: 15 June 2023

OR CONTACT US for more information

Trip code: PRBB *from

ITINERARY

Arrive in Beirut where your driver will be waiting to take you to the tour hotel. Meet your trip leader and travel companions for a welcome meeting and pre-tour briefing for your luxury tour of Lebanon at 17.00. After the meeting, head out into cosmopolitan Beirut to a local restaurant for a special dinner.

In the morning we will leave Beirut and transfer to Jeita Grotto. The grotto is a system of two separate but interconnected limestone caves spanning an overall length of nearly 9km. On arrival embark on a short sailing trip to admire the lower grotto.

After visiting the grotto, we will transfer to Harissa to see the beautiful basilica of Saint Paul and Our Lady of Lebanon Church, after which we will stop to have lunch in one of Harissa’s local restaurants.

After lunch we will travel to the coastal city of Jounieh to gain a spectacular vista over the sea and the city via the use of a cable car.

In the late afternoon we will transfer to the ancient port city of Byblos, one of the oldest inhabited places on Earth and check into our boutique hotel where we will spend the next two nights on our luxury tour of Lebanon.

This morning we will head out to explore ancient Byblos, a site used by the Phoenicians to launch trade with ancient Greece, Egypt and the entire Mediterranean region. It was here in Byblos that Lebanon’s famous Cedar wood left for construction works in ancient Egyptian tombs, Assyrian chariots and war machines, the pillars of the temples of Persepolis and of course in the form of the ships of the Phoenicians themselves.

We will spend some time wandering the ancient port city before paying a visit to Byblos Citadel. The citadel of Byblos was built by the crusaders in the 12th century and was known as the ‘Castle of Gibelet’. It was built from indigenous limestone and the remains of Roman structures and was once protected by a moat.

After our visit to the citadel we will try our hand at cooking the traditional food of Lebanon with a home cooking class, before a walk through the old souq of Byblos where we will become part of the trading history of this town.

The remainder of the afternoon is yours to explore Byblos.

We depart Byblos this morning and head to the town of Rachana, our next stop on our luxury tour of Lebanon, to view to enigmatic Basbous Sculptures. The works of Lebanese modernist artist, Alfred Basbous, the sculptures are set up in a UNESCO listed sculpture park and show influence from Phoenician culture, Lebanese folk art and Christian Maronite Church iconography.

On leaving the sculpture park we will head to the picturesque fishing village of Batroun to see the old Phoenician wall, take a stroll through the souq and eat a scrumptious lunch in a local restaurant.

This afternoon we are in for a real treat with a tasting of Lebanese wines at a traditional winery.

In the late afternoon we will transfer to the city of Tripoli, for a walk along the Al Mina promenade and stop to smell the roses with a leisurely coffee.

After our wander we will check in to our hotel in Tripoli where we will spend the next three nights.

This morning we begin our exploration of the city of Tripoli. Our first stop will be the old Tripoli Railway Station, set on a line which once connected Beirut with the city of Homs in Syria, and which once formed a terminus of the Orient Express. The line was abandoned in 1975 and the station now contains locomotives which are relics of the steam era.

Continuing our exploration of Tripoli, we will visit the Al Mansouri Mosque or ‘Great Mosque of Tripoli.’ We will explore the AlSaboun Caravanserai, an antique trading lodge used in the times of the Silk Road, before visiting a traditional soap factory, where soap is made in the traditional way from olive oil.

Today we will have some free time for lunch before a wander through Tripoli’s many souqs.

The afternoon is free for you to continue to explore the souqs, shop or explore Tripoli on your own.

This morning we will pay a visit to the Tripoli citadel, another of Lebanon’s castles built during the time of the Crusades, followed by a visit to Our Lady of Balamand Patriarchal Monastery. The monastery has been a centre of Antiochan Greek Orthodox dedication to both the Virgin Mary and St George since 1603.

Our final stop for today will be the green-domed Taynal Mosque. The mosque is built upon the ruins of a crusader church which was, in turn built upon the ruins of a Roman temple to Zeus, locally called Baal, the site on which the mosque is built has been as the centre of worship for different gods for many centuries.

This afternoon is free for you to explore Tripoli on your own, this evening we will regroup at the hotel for a special dinner at Shater Hassan Palace.

Today we journey into the mountains to the Kadisha Valley to walk among the cedar trees in the ‘Cedars of God’ forest. The earliest mention of the cedar forest is in the ‘Epic of Gilgamesh’ which was first written down in 2100 BCE by the ancient civilisation of the Sumerians. The cedar was used as a valuable hard wood commodity by many ancient civilisations including the Phoenicians, Egyptians, Assyrians, Persians, Babylonians, Romans, Arabs and Turks. To prevent further modern deforestation the ‘Cedars of God’ were enshrined on the UNESCO world heritage list in 1998.

After our walk in the cedar forest, we will have some free time for lunch in the town of Bsharri before a visit to the Gibran Museum. A biographical museum, the Gibaran museum is dedicated to the Lebanese philosopher, Kahlil Gibran. The museum was formerly an old cavern in which hermits sought refuge in the 7th century CE.

In the afternoon we will travel along a winding mountain road until we reach the monastery of St Anthony, where we will stay to experience monastic life for the next two nights.

Today is a free day for you to relax and experience life at the monastery. You may want to rest, spend this time in quiet reflection or take a walk through the stunning scenery in the surrounding area.

We will depart the Kadisha Valley this morning and travel to the east to the ancient site of Baalbek. On arrival we will have a tour of the ancient city by a local expert including the imposing temples of Jupiter and Bacchus, forum and the Nymphaeum. The site has been in almost continual habitation down to the present day for 9 000 years. It has seen the conquest of Alexander the Great when the site was known by its Greek name ‘Heliopolis’ or ‘City of the Sun’, was occupied by the Muslim army in the Middle Ages and was conquered by the Ottomans along with the rest of Lebanon and Syria in the 16th century CE.

We will have some free time in the modern city of Baalbek to grab some lunch, before returning to the ancient city to explore at our leisure.

We leave Baalbek this morning and transfer to the town of Zahle to see the Lady of Zahle Church. Located on a hill in the Bekaa Valley the church is an imposing tower like structure, with a ten-metre-high statue of the Virgin Mary on top. An elevator will take us to the top of the tower to view the surrounding countryside.

Lunch today will be served at the winery of Chateau Ksara along with a tasting of some of the chateau’s finest wines. Lebanon’s oldest winery, Chateau Ksara have been producing wines since 1857 and use a combination of centuries-old and modern practices to ensure an amazing product.

After lunch we will transfer to the southern city of Tyre, once laid siege to by Alexander the Great, where we will spend the next two nights.

This morning we will head to the ruins of ancient Tyre to explore the hippodrome, Arch of Hadrian and of course the Phoenician port. Tyre is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world, is mentioned numerous times in the Bible and according to myth was the birthplace of Europa (who have her name to ‘Europe’) and Dido of Carthage.

The remainder of today is free for you to explore the modern city of Tyre on your own.

Today we transfer to the town of Nabatiyeh for a sobering visit to the ‘Hezbollah Museum of Resistance.’ The museum marks the 10th anniversary of the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon and aims to preserve the place where the resistance fighters once lived.

After our visit to the museum, we will travel to Shouf to the retreat of Bkerzay where we will spend the next two nights. Bkerzay is Lebanon’s largest lodge completely powered by solar energy and is driven by conservation of the country’s traditional practices. The villas and rooms of Bkerzay are made from local stone and decorated with a mix of vintage furnishings, locally produced linens and custom pieces from nearby craftsmen.

On arrival we will be treated to a pottery demonstration and possibly even get to try our hand at the art of Lebanese ceramics ourselves.

In the afternoon lunch will be served at Bkerzay and then the remainder of the afternoon will be yours to relax.

Today is free for you to rest and relax or indulge in some of the experiences on offer at Bkerzay. You could take a swim in the outdoor pool, enjoy a rejuvenating scrub in the hammam, try out some yoga or go for a scenic hike to see the vistas of the natural reserve.

This morning we will start to make our way back to Beirut. Along the way we will make a stop in the city of Sidon. Another city, originally of Phoenician origin, we will explore the ancient temple of Eshmun, the god of healing, followed by a visit to the Estate of Saray Nassib Basha. The estate is a 19th century example of the splendour and opulence of the Ottomans and was the winter retreat of the Joumblat family. The ‘saray’ or ‘palace’ is built overlooking the sea and is recognized as one of Lebanon’s greatest homes.

We will have some free time in Sidon for lunch before transferring to the village of Bsous near Mt Lebanon to visit the Silk Museum. The museum links with the scented spice routes of antiquity, the Silk Road and ancient exchanges of silk between the land of the Cedar trees, the East and the West.

After our visit to the museum, we will travel back to Beirut and check back into our hotel, the remainder of the afternoon will be for you to rest and relax.

This evening we will head out into Beirut for a special dinner to farewell your trip leader and traveling companions and the celebrate the completion of your amazing Lebanese adventure!

Your adventure through Lebanon comes to an end today, depart at any time with a convenient departure transfer to the airport to ensure you don’t miss your onward flight

Trip Map – Phoenician Riches

Details

Duration: 15 Days

Trip style: Luxe

Group size: Minimum 6 / Maximum 15

Trip code: PRBB

Cost: $10 750.00 AUD twin share

Single supplement: $2755.00 AUD

Inclusions

  • 14-nights’ accommodation in boutique, traditional hotels and in a working monastery in the Kadisha Valley (2-nights – please note this accommodation is of a shared nature).
  • Meals as specified in itinerary (B = Breakfast / L = Lunch / D = Dinner)
  • Airport transfers on arrival and departure
  • Services of your Inverted Atlas trip leader and local guides

Tour price does not include

  • International airfares or domestic airfares
  • Visa for Lebanon (please note, if you have Israeli stamps in your passport, you will be denied entry to Lebanon)
  • Any expenses associated with COVID-19
  • Meals not included as per tour itinerary including drinks and mini bar
  • Additional accommodation before or after the tour
  • Items of a personal nature including but not limited to laundry, souvenirs, porterage etc.
  • Travel insurance – please note comprehensive travel insurance is a condition of travel with Inverted Atlas

Journey Rating – Journey

This is a luxury tour of Lebanon, a country not so accustomed to tourism and people may be curious about you and where you come from but will be, in general, friendly in nature. Toilets you encounter in public restrooms or in remote unscheduled stops along the way may be of the eastern ‘squat’ variety. There are some long travel days, but rest assured on arrival we will always be checking in to accommodation that is of a good standard and all transport is via the use of an air-conditioned coach. The weather in Lebanon can change rapidly depending on the area we are traveling through, and it can be a bit chilly in the mountains. Facilities such as pharmacies, banks and ATM’s can be found in large cities and towns but may be absent from smaller villages and remote places.

Any dietary requirements should not be an issue while traveling on this tour, provided they are disclosed to Inverted Atlas at the time of booking.

A note about fitness

This luxury tour of Lebanon requires a moderate level of physical fitness. You should be able to walk up to 2km over, at times uneven surfaces during sightseeing. In addition, you should be able to use an eastern style squat toilet if necessary (beware if you have knee issues).

You will need to be able to carry your own luggage to and from the coach and on and off the trains and ferries. (Due to OH&S regulations our trip leaders are not able to assist with luggage.)

In addition, you should be in good health, with no major chronic conditions requiring frequent medical attention. This trip often travels through remote locations where the availability of a hospital or even phone reception to call an ambulance is limited. While all our trip leaders are required to have a valid first aid certificate, they are far from doctors and any assistance they are able to provide will be limited to basic first aid. For more information please see our booking conditions.

Single supplement

Traveling by yourself? No problem, we love single travellers and don’t believe in penalising them by charging half the tour price again for our single supplement. With us you are only paying the actual cost to have a room all to yourself. If you’re up for making a new friend, you can elect to share with another single traveller of the same sex and only pay the twin-share price. The choice is yours!

Please note, the single supplement on this tour does not include the monastery stay in the Kadisha Valley where the accommodation is of a shared nature.

Trip leader description

Accompanying you along your journey will be your Inverted Atlas trip leader. Your trip leader is a logistics extraordinaire, keeps the trip running smoothly and ensures you have the best time possible on your trip. It is important to know that while your trip leader has the best job in the world, they aren’t actually on holidays, but rather they are there to make sure you have the best time while you are on your holiday! Your trip leader may at times need some time out so that they can complete back of house tasks that ensure everyone continues to enjoy the trip. It is also your trip leaders’ job to handle any issues (heaven forbid!) that come up while you’re on your trip like:

  • If you lose your passport or other travel documents
  • If there is a problem with your room at the booked accommodation – seriously please tell your trip leader don’t wait until you leave
  • If you become unwell and need to find a pharmacy
  • Assisting with restaurant recommendations or additional sightseeing during free time
  • Questions regarding the itinerary

Your trip leader will have some good local knowledge about the destination in which you are traveling, however they are not a ‘local guide’. You’re welcome to ask your trip leader anything about the trip and if they don’t know they will find out and get back to you. Other people you will meet along the way are ‘local guides’ who are generally available to the group in specific towns or at specific sites like national parks, temples or archaeological sites. These people are the local experts and will be able to answer any questions you may have about the history and culture of a specific site.

Itinerary disclaimer

This itinerary is correct at the time of upload to our website and we have composed it in good faith. From time to time we may elect to make changes before departure, if we are making a big change we will of course notify you, however if it is a small change this will be reflected in the final tour notes. So, make sure you download these prior to departure. Small changes prior to departure are usually made with the groups best interests in mind and come about due to liaising with our best resources – our past travelers and of course our tour leaders! The ability to change and evolve depending on what our travelers enjoy is what makes us such a great tour operator.

While we strive to operate our tour exactly to the letter of the itinerary, sometimes we may need to make changes on the ground while the group is on the road. This is all part of the adventure of traveling and we would ask that you come on your tour with an open mind and a good sense of humour because as much as we want it to, everything doesn’t always go to plan. In fact, these impromptu situations often make the best stories that you can have a laugh with your friends about later.

Age requirements

Minimum Age: 18 years

Due to the shared nature of some of the accommodation, children are not permitted on this tour.

There is no upper age limit for this tour, but you should consider the above fitness requirements prior to booking. If you are 65 years or over, you will be asked to complete our Health Check Form and have your medical practitioner sign it to confirm you are in good health and able to participate safely on this tour.

Travel insurance

Please note that comprehensive travel insurance is a condition of travel with Inverted Atlas. Insurance must include provision for medical situations, emergency medical repatriation to your home country and personal liability at a minimum. Proof of valid travel insurance will be requested by your trip leader on arrival at the pre-departure meeting. Please have this paperwork available for them. If you are unable to provide proof of comprehensive travel insurance, you may not be allowed to join the trip and no refund will be payable.

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