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Unforgettable moments

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We asked our sustainable tourism experts for their suggestions about such destinations for this autumn

Walking in nature
Pascal Abdallah, tourism development consultant, as well as managing director of Responsible Mobilities, proposes a tour in the Jabal Moussa Biosphere Reserve. It was declared Lebanon’s third biosphere reserve, in 2009, after Shouf and Jabal Rihane. Jabal Moussa extends between “Nahr Ibrahim” (the Adonis) and the “Nahr EdDahab” rivers, ranging in altitude from 500 to 1,575 m, above sea level.

You may start your ecotourism hiking day at “Baydar esh-Shawk,” the upper entrance of the reserve, where Elias the local guide will be glad to accompany you on the trails of his childhood forest. The first part of the walk crosses oak and pine forests. On your way he will point out common plants such as the peony and the marjoram. And if you are quiet enough you will succeed in meeting the hyrax, a small mammal, called the “tabsoon” in Arabic, lying peacefully on the grey limestone rocks.

The second part of the walk is the most interesting since you will be amazed by the autumn colors, in the heart of the pristine forest composed of hophornbeam trees and flowering ash trees. The trail then leads you to a giant cross, where there is a panoramic view overlooking Yahshoush and Nahr Ibrahim valley. Elias will enchant you with cultural information about the surrounding villages and the legend of Adonis, the Greek god of beauty.

On your way back you can have a rest at the mountain refuge known locally as the el-Byoot site. The last part is a downhill winding trail that leads to the hamlet of el-Msheteh, where you can have a traditional meal at the local guesthouse owned by Nazih Nader.

With Nazih, you may visit a 1,500 m long Roman stairway in el-Msheteh known locally as “el-daraj el-Roumani.” If you continue by car to el-Ghineh village, you can visit one of the most beautiful Byzantine mosaic remains of Lebanon and the rock carving known as the rock of Adonis, representing a hunter being aggressed by a huge animal.

The Jabal Moussa Biosphere Reserve has a high ecological and socio-cultural value waiting for you to be discovered in a very responsible way, due to the high quality level management of the Association of Protection of Jabal Moussa that coordinates its development and conservation programs closely with the local communities of the region.

Responsible Mobilities
+961 3 451113
Christelle Abou Chabke (APJM)
+961 9 643464

The simple life
Gilbert Moukheiber, managing director of 33 North is also an alternative tourism consultant, as well as a mountain guide and rescuer. This autumn, he invites you to join Lebanon’s shepherds and be part of a unique nomadic experience, dedicated to promoting their way of living. The 33 North shepherd’s house, which will be your campsite, is located in Mount Lebanon’s Mnaitra at 1,800 m, above sea level.

From here you may pick your choice of several adventure trips. This could be one to several days’ hiking, or you could experience the migration of livestock with the shepherds and their way of living, daily tasks and 4-WD trips to the Cedars plateau and Kornet es Sawda, the highest point in Lebanon.

You will be accommodated in Bedouin tents and have the chance to savor authentic local cuisine, all in a picturesque framework. Most importantly is that you adopt the principles of leaving no trace behind.

33 North
+961 71 331138 

WHAT MAKES A TOUR OPERATOR A RESPONSIBLE ONE?
In the tourism industry the term responsible tourism has become familiar and many trip organizers and travel agents are using it as an added value to their product, but most of the tour suppliers don’t implement what they claim. Pascal Abdallah explains how

Here are the three most important areas and actions that should be undertaken in practice by a tour operator, in order to be considered responsible

1. Economic equity

• Uses local accommodation facilities
• Uses local guesthouses
• Always pays the price of the service offered in a fair and timely fashion
• Always eats locally, asking for local traditional food
• Always purchases other needed products locally
• Encourages local craftsmanship
• Encourages local agriculture
• Supports youth locally
• Doesn’t seek special treatment

2. Environment Protection

• At the business office Tends towards energy efficiency Tends towards a water management system and program Tends towards waste water management and reducing the use of chemicals
• Installs a waste recycling system
• Projects to invest in electrical transportation means
• Forbids the use of motorized vehicles (Quads, Skidoos) in the wilderness
• Chooses partners who have the same vision
• Provides walking in nature for peaceful discovery
• Prioritizes protected areas for visits
• Hires knowledgeable tour guides for nature interpretation
• Organizes nature conservancy events

3. Social cohesion

• Always thinks at the micro local level
• Supports local initiatives
• Always hires a local guide • Prepares the visit before visitors’ arrival
• Gives details to visitors before they travel to destination
• Tends towards slowpaced tourism
• Respects local traditions
• Forbids photography unless well prepared and with permission
• Sends small group numbers to destinations
• Respects carrying capacity of the place visited
• Thinks about safety first
• Encourages local identity
• Listens to his visitors by filling and analyzing the visitor’s feedback sheet
DATE 20 APR 2017

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