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Essential Lebanon 2 - Itinerary
DATES & COST 

October 2 - 11, 2019
10 Days / 9 Nights

Tour starts and ends in Beirut

$3,460 per person/double occupancy
$1,340 optional single supplement
Additional nights $320 single or double room
(airport transfer included)
Includes all fees and taxes

TOUR DIRECTOR 
TOUR DIRECTOR
TOUR MAP 

Click on the image to enlarge the map

This tour starts at 7:00PM on Wednesday, October 2, 2019 in Beirut.
You flight should arrive no later than 4:00PM.

Day 1: Beirut - Arrivals  

On your arrival at Beirut International Airport, you will be met by our chauffer for your private transfer to our luxury hotel overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. After some time to refresh and relax, we'll meet in the evening to celebrate our upcoming adventure with a welcome dinner featuring traditional Lebanese mezze at a restaurant in the heart of this seaside metropolis.
Meals included: Dinner
Accommodations: Four Seasons Hotel, Beirut

Day 2: City tour of Beirut  

On our first full day in Lebanon, we'll set out for a guided tour through the vibrant neighborhoods of Beirut, known today for its artsy character and glitzy nightlife, which exist alongside the city's intricate and dramatic history. Within a single neighborhood, we'll be able to witness layers of history spanning millennia, from the ruins of a 6th century Roman bathhouse to apartment buildings draped in vibrant flowers hiding lingering traces of the country's tragic civil war. We'll start with a visit to the National Museum of Beirut, displaying over 1,300 archaeological objects, ranging from the prehistoric era to the medieval Mamluk period. We'll continue with a tour of the Place de l'Etoile, with Beirut's iconic clock tower and the Parliament building, St. George Maronite Cathedral, the recently excavated ruins of the Roman baths, the impressive Al-Amin Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque. After free time for lunch, we'll admire Beirut's iconic Pigeon Rocks, where we'll take a boat along the coast of Mount Lebanon, and admire the spectacular sunset over the city of Beirut. In the evening, we'll convene for dinner at one of the city's spectacular restaurants.
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner
Accommodations: Four Seasons Hotel, Beirut

Day 3: Baalbek, Anjar  

Today we will tour the ancient sites which defined Lebanon's history and today are its most significant historical landmarks. In the morning, we'll travel to the picturesque Beqaa Valley, where ancient Roman columns tower above remains which rival even those found in Rome itself. Our first stop will be Baalbek, a Phoenician city, called Heliopolis during the Hellenistic period, where locals worshiped a triad of deities. Baalbek retained its religious function during Roman times, when the sanctuary of the Heliopolitan Jupiter attracted thousands of pilgrims. This famous sanctuary of the Roman world is one of the finest examples of Imperial Roman architecture at its apogee and a model of Imperial Roman architecture. After a guided tour of the magnificent Roman remains with its colossal Temple of Bacchus, we'll have some free time for lunch, before continuing to Anjar, a picturesque town at the foot of the Anti-Lebanon mountain range which boasts the Middle East’s last remaining Umayyad era archaeological site. Here, we'll tour the site with its leading archaeologist for a fascinating historical insight. We'll return to Beirut in the evening, and enjoy an exquisite dinner at a restaurant with a view of the Mediterranean Sea.
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner
Accommodations: Four Seasons Hotel, Beirut

Day 4: Our Lady of Lebanon, Jeita Grotto  

After a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, we will leave the city and travel along Mount Lebanon’s magnificent coastline, until we reach one of the country's natural wonders: Jeita Grotto. Time and water have shaped these karstic limestone caves into a stunning landscape of stalactites, stalagmites, and even an underground lake. The grottoes were discovered in the late 19th century, and today, the upper grotto, featuring the fantastical formations and the world’s longest stalactites, is explored by foot, and the lower grotto, with its translucent subterranean lake is toured by boat. Afterwards, we'll take a cable car up to Harissa, from where we can take in the beautiful vista of Lebanon’s Mediterranean coastline at the mountaintop shrine to Our Lady of Mount Lebanon, a pilgrimage site for Maronite Christians from Lebanon and from around the world. We will finish the day at a French restaurant perched high above Jounieh Bay, where Lebanese families have been dining for generations, and after returning to the hotel, the rest of the afternoon will be free for individual exploration of Beirut.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodations: Four Seasons Hotel, Beirut

Day 5: Kadisha Valley, Cedars of God, Bsharri  

In the morning, we'll leave earlier to travel north to the picturesque Kadisha Valley, where Lebanon’s majestic cedars preside over wildflower-studded valleys and rugged mountain paths. We will drive up the Mediterranean coast, then turn east towards the valley’s picturesque green landscape stretching toward snow-capped mountains, where we'll see Lebanon’s oldest cedar trees in the Cedars of God Forest, which once covered the country’s mountains, but today are less common, seen most often on the Lebanese flag. After lunch at an Italian restaurant, we'll get a glimpse into the life and art of Kahlil Gibran, Lebanon’s most celebrated writer, as we travel through his hometown of Bsharri and visit a museum displaying hundreds of his works and offering a spectacular view of the valley. After lunch, we'll explore some of the dozens of Kadisha Valley’s chapels carved into the rock and decorated with medieval mural paintings and we'll stop to visit St. Anthony Monastery in Kozhaya, where Maronite monks sought solitude and refuge in times of persecution. After returning to Beirut, tonight we'll have dinner at a restaurant with Beirut's iconic sight of the Blue Mosque and St. George's Church.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations: Four Seasons Hotel, Beirut

Day 6: Beiteddine Palace, Deir al-Qamar & Al-Chouf Cedar Reserve 

Today, we will get to know the illustrious leaders of Lebanon’s past. After leaving Beirut, we'll drive south to Deir el-Qamar, a hilltop town which played an important role in Lebanon’s history. It became the capital of Mount Lebanon in 1590 under emir Fakhreddine, and today it's a charming mountainside retreat that retains its medieval legacy and architecture. We'll be able to enjoy its ambiance and history, as we take a walk through its central square that once hosted jousting tournaments and explore the Mosque of Fakhreddine Maan, built in 1493. From Deir el-Qamar, we'll travel to Beiteddine Palace, the residence of former princes and today’s Lebanese presidents. The palace is a blend of Arab and Italian architecture with a sweeping view of the surrounding hills and valleys. Lebanon’s final ruling prince, emir Bashir Shihab II, resided here in the 18th and 19th centuries before he was banished to Turkey, and the palace was used for Ottoman and French Mandate governmental purposes after the emir’s departure. After enjoying lunch at a relaxed restaurant with spectacular views of the valley, we'll travel to the Al-Shouf Cedar Reserve, where the country’s famous trees spread across a much wider expanse than in the north. We'll be able to appreciate the diversity of Lebanon’s landscape, with the cedar trees presiding over rocky, shrub-dotted hillsides, so different from the green valleys of the north. After returning to Beirut, the rest of the afternoon will be free to enjoy the city's diversions.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodations: Four Seasons Hotel, Beirut

Day 7: Beqaa Valley Wineries  

Lebanon is one of the the world's oldest wine-producing regions, where grapes have been turned into delicious drink for thousands of years. The country's best known wine-producing region is the Beqaa Valley, so today we'll spend the day visiting two vineyards and wineries here and comparing their wines. Studded with villages, vegetable farms, wineries and ancient ruins that cover the valley like a kaleidoscopic carpet, the plains of the Beqaa, nestled between the Mount Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon ranges, are a natural pathway between northern Syria and Palestine, a route once frequented by trading caravans and invaders alike. We'll start at Clos St Thomas, a professionally and passionately run family winery, where the tour of the vineyards and the cellar will be followed by a wine tasting session. Afterwards, we'll visit the underground Roman cellars and enjoy a wine tasting at Chateau Ksara, one of Lebanon's iconic wineries in the country that introduced new grapes such as Riesling, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. Our lunch here will be accompanied by another wine tasting session.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodations: Four Seasons Hotel, Beirut

Day 8: Sidon, Tyre  

Today we'll travel to the port cities of southern Lebanon, Sidon and Tyre which retain a traditional air and religious identity far different from the cosmopolitan feel of Beirut. We'll first visit Sidon, once a major port for the Phoenicians, who sailed the Mediterranean, trading cedar wood, glass items, and the famous purple dye used to color royal robes and Roman senatorial tunics. We'll tour the Crusaders Sea Castle built in the 13th century atop a Phoenician temple, then we'll visit the Khan al-Franj, an icon of Sidon’s economic prosperity in the 17th century, and we'll walk through Sidon’s souk market. After leaving Sidon, we'll stop at Our Lady of Waiting church in Maghdouche, the site where Virgin Mary waited while Jesus preached in Sidon. Then, we'll continue to Tyre, an ancient coastal city with extensive archaeological sites including the Roman necropolis, triumphal arch and hippodrome. In the evening, we'll enjoy another unforgettable Lebanese dinner.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations: Four Seasons Hotel, Beirut

Day 9: Byblos, Baatara Gorge 

Today, we will visit Byblos, a lovely town on the Mediterranean coast that has been continuously inhabited for thousands of years. The town, with the dramatic background of Mt. Lebanon, is dominated by a Crusader castle which sits on millennia of history and seven layers of different civilizations, going all the way back to the Neolithic age. From a small fishing port, it expanded under the Phoenicians, Canaanites, and the Greeks, who renamed the town Byblos. It was here that Phoenicians developed the first 22-letter phonetic alphabet, which is the foundation of our modern alphabet, a point of pride for many Lebanese. After touring the site, we’ll have some time to spend at the art and souvenir shops in Byblos’s famous souks. In the evening, we’ll enjoy our farewell dinner featuring the amazing Lebanese seafood, Lebanese mezze and meats at a restaurant surrounded by sea cliffs.
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner
Accommodations: Four Seasons Hotel, Beirut

Day 10: Beirut - Departures 

After breakfast at the hotel, and depending on your flight's departure time, you may have another day (or half a day) to explore the city of Beirut at leisure. Your private airport transfer will be arranged according to your flight's departure time.
Meals included: Breakfast

This tour ends after breakfast on Friday, October 11, 2019 in Beirut.
You can schedule your return flight any time during the day.

Itinerary specifics subject to change.

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Why travel with other women?
Many women do not have families or compatible friends who wish to travel. When going on a main-stream tour, women often find that most activities are geared towards couples and quite often they feel left out. Singles' tours are not always what women are looking for. If you do not have a traveling companion, there is also the issue of the expensive "single supplement", sometimes as much as 50 or even 100 percent of the tour cost. By going on women-only tours, women can easily avoid paying for the single supplement by sharing a room with another woman traveler.
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