The limestone caves of Jeita are simply stunning. They're filled with stalagmites and stalactites and (when we went) hundreds of little Lebanese middle schoolers running around. They look so magical that you kinda feel like they're not actually real. The upper cave has a walk way and the lower cave is explored by a boat since it's filled with water. Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed inside so the ones below are from the internets. The caves are currently finalists for the new 7 wonders of the world.
While not exactly natural, this cable car in Jounieh (an hour north of Beirut) starts at the ocean and goes up into the mountains. I love cable cars--they're the reason I still go to Six Flags Great America. On the Telepherique, we got some pretty amazing views of the city ...until we hit the fog. Then it felt more like a horror movie as we got higher up and were unable to see more than 10 feet in any direction. At the end of the cable car is a massive Maronite Catholic church and a statue of St Mary outside of it known as Our Lady of Lebanon.
Our Lady of LebanonThe gift shop sold many things including these stickers. I particularly like "Jesus is The Bible's JOY STORY" and "I heart boys who love Jesus."
The Holy Valley and the Forest of the Cedars of God
"The righteous will flourish like a palm tree; they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon." Psalm 92:12
Lebanon is famous for its Cedar trees. The only image on the Lebanese flag is a cedar. The cedar is an important biblical symbol; God even commanded that the Temple of Solomon be built by the cedars of Lebanon. Lillie and I decided to go make the long trip up north to Bcharre, an area known for the Holy Valley which is filled with churches and monasteries and an excellent place for hiking. Another 20 minutes from the valley is an area known as the Forest of the Cedars of God (what an epic name) which boasts some pretty old trees. This area is famous for skiing and there was still some snow on the mountain tops but most of it had melted.
Waking up early was totally worth it.
After negotiating with a taxi driver, we went up to the forest and had about an hour to explore before we went back down to the main town.
Listening to the Cedars of GodWho am I to disobey the Cedars of God?Baby Cedar! What have they done to you?There's so much more in the Lebanon landscape that we didn't get to see. The south has tons to explore but it's currently controlled by Hezbollah so we opted out of a visit. Maybe next time.