By: Heather Keys
Escape the hustle and bustle of city life and immerse yourself in the stunning natural beauty of Tannourine, Lebanon—just 70 kilometers north of Beirut, this area is home to gorgeous waterfalls and forest reserves, as well as ancient monasteries and villages.
If you’re into outdoor activities and exploration, Tannourine may just be the perfect place to visit for its hiking, climbing, skiing, and everything in between.
Let’s have a quick look at this amazing region of the Middle East!
Tannourine’s Wonderful Landscapes and Wildlife
Tannourine’s landscapes are made up of mountains, valleys, forests, waterfalls, gorges, and grottos. Each of these provides a thriving sanctuary for a wide array of wildlife and plant species—here are a few top places to check out:
- The Tannourine Cedars Forest Nature Reserve is really special: it’s home to one of the few remaining cedar forests in Lebanon, and hosts a network of hiking trails, picnic spots, and interpretive centers designed to enhance your experience and teach you about the area. Visit this protected reserve and enjoy a bit of hiking and birdwatching.
- For a totally different view, the Baatara Gorge and Waterfall is an extraordinary limestone cavern system that houses an underground waterfall—the spot is also known as the Three Bridges Chasm. This subterranean marvel also is home to some very cool geological formations like stalactites, stalagmites, and intricate crystalline structures. Take a guided tour to help navigate this incredible underworld and learn more about it!
- About an hour-and-a-half drive from Tannourine, you’ll find Qurnat as Sawda (the Black Peak), the highest peak in Lebanon, and part of the Lebanese Mountain range in the northern part of the country. From here, you can see the Mediterranean Sea while enjoying the hospitality of the local towns and villages in the area.
Tannourine is home to a wealth of wildlife as well—some of the most memorable residents you might come across include:
- Syrian brown bear: Rare and elusive, this relatively small bear can still grow up to 250 kg, so don’t get too close!
- Mountain gazelle: This medium-sized antelope is agile and graceful, and has distinctive long, curved horns and a reddish-brown coat.
- Wild boar: A robust and adaptable creature, the wild boar calls the dense forests home and is known for its keen sense of smell and strength.
- Eurasian griffon vulture: A majestic bird of prey with a wingspan exceeding eight feet, this scavenger has an unmistakable tuft around its neck.
- Rock partridge: A ground-dwelling bird with striking markings, the rock partridge can be found foraging among the rocky terrain.
While exploring Tannourine’s wonders, you might also bump into other fun animals like the rock hyrax, long-eared hedgehog, and fire salamander.
If you’re looking for a more immersive experience, try birdwatching, butterfly-watching, or insect-spotting. Alternatively, join a guided nature walk to deepen your understanding of Tannourine’s diverse flora and fauna!
Hiking, Cycling, and More in Tannourine
There are tons of amazing hiking trails throughout Tannourine and beyond—a few that you may want to consider:
- Tannourine Cedars Forest Nature Reserve: There are trails throughout the reserve that are excellent for short walks and sightseeing.
- Tannourine-Hasroun Trail: Enjoy sweeping views of the valley and mountains on this beautiful trek, which is part of the larger Lebanon Mountain Trail.
- Bazaoun to Tannourine el-Faouqa: Follow a path leading to a natural spring and orchards—also part of the Lebanon Mountain Trail.
- Balou Balaa: Discover the gorgeous surroundings of the Balou Balaa cave and waterfall.
- Tannourine-Qurnat as Sawda Trail: Take on the black peak—the highest mountain in Lebanon—with this challenging, multi-day hike.
- Wadi Qannoubine Hike: Walk through a scenic valley and visit historic monasteries tucked away within the landscape.
Tannourine has a variety of camping sites as well, from basic facilities to luxurious tents and cabins.
Tannourine’s varied landscape offers exciting opportunities for cycling enthusiasts of all levels. Bike through picturesque mountain trails, valleys, and towns while enjoying the region’s beauty and historical sites like monasteries and even ancient villages. Several bike rental shops and guided tour services are available to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience.
Tannourine’s rugged terrain and cliffs make it a popular destination for rock climbers seeking challenging routes. With a well-established climbing scene, you can find climbing schools, guides, and equipment rental shops throughout the area. Popular climbing areas include Tannourine El-Thata, Baatara gorge, Tannourine El Fawqa, and Teffehat, where routes range from easy to difficult and showcase stunning views of the mountains, valleys, and waterfalls.
Tannourine’s favorable wind conditions, thermals, and incredible views make it an excellent destination for paragliding. The relatively new but growing paragliding scene offers licensed pilots and schools for interested adventurers.
The Laqlouq resort is a popular winter destination in Lebanon, where you can go skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, sledding, and of course warming up with après-ski activities. The resort is well-equipped with a variety of slopes and lifts, rental facilities, and ski schools to cater to every skill level.
Ready to Travel?
Whatever outdoor activities you love the most, you’re bound to find something amazing to do while visiting Tannourine! Whether you’re interested in wildflowers and birdwatching, or looking for the adrenaline rush that comes with rock climbing, Tannourine is a fantastic destination.
Have you had the opportunity to visit Lebanon? Share your stories and advice with the Frayed Passport community!
Featured image by Canaïma on Wikimedia Commons.