Ideal for those who don’t want to venture too far, three rivers are virtually on the doorstep of Beirut city center. While the mouth of each river doesn’t leave much to be desired, heading inland a few kilometers reveals some great springtime surprises.
1. Beirut River
Nestled in a valley between the Beirut suburbs of Mansourieh and Hazmieh, the Beirut River flows under a Roman aqueduct, aptly named the Aqueducts of Zenobia. Restored and maintained by the Ministry of Tourism, there are ample pathways along the river that take strollers among all manner of plant life and wild orchards. To reach the area, head towards Mansourieh and turn right, down to Belle Vue Medical Center.
2. Antelias River
Antelias Upper River is amazing after heavy rain. Gigantic water pools form jets from holes deep underground. The scene is best viewed at the 100-year-old Casino Fawar, where water springs emerge from beneath the restaurant. It’s an ideal stop over for breakfast or lunch as the river gushes by, before heading onwards and upwards to a prehistoric cave situated to the left side of a quarry.
3. Nahr el-Kalb
Just north of Beirut, the peaceful waters of this short river flow from a spring in Jeita along a 31km course, through a scenic valley to the Mediterranean Sea. The mouth of the ‘Dog River’ has been the site of a series of monuments erected by past conquerors and generals, such as the graceful bridge built by Sultan Selim in 1914. The best walk is along the inside river bank on the opposite side to the road. Stroll along the pedestrian only path and discover wild orchards and traditional Lebanese houses.
4. Nahr Ibrahim
Popular with picnickers, the valley of the Ibrahim River is a wild and beautiful area famed for both its historical and religious significance. A Roman aqueduct can be seen where the valley forks as well as the Roman temples of Yanuh, Aqoura and Afqa. Upstream, there are a number of riverside cafés that make for a pleasant stopover.
5. Al Assi River
Known as the ‘rebel’ or ‘disobedient one’, the Al Assi River flows from its source in the Bekaa northwards into Syria and onwards to Turkey. Flowing a rocky course, the Assi is ideal for those seeking white-knuckle thrills. Rafting is the sport of choice here with class I to III difficulty at certain parts near Hermil. The website boats.com offers day long rafting courses for beginners including lunch or two-day rafting and camping trips.
6. Litani River
The Litani River, flowing at 140km entirely within Lebanon, is the longest river in the country. A good place to walk is by the Latini Dam at Qaraoun, where there is a 1,350m long artificial lake lined with a few small hotels and restaurants serving fresh trout. At Nahr Abou Assouad, just 10 km north of Tyre, a great landmark is the Leontes Bridge, with a segmental arch structure that dates back to the ancient Roman era.