Credited for its outstanding beaches, wineries and archeological landmarks, Batroun also boasts an array of natural wonders. As USAID’s Trade and Investment Facilitation (TIF) project is working to raise the profile of the district and improve its tourism offering, we decided to take the opportunity to explore four natural wonders of the Batroun District and the most remarkable sites for nature enthusiasts.
1. Baatara Sinkhole (Balou Balaa)
Also known as the Cave of the Three Bridges, the Baatara sinkhole of the Batroun District is a breathtaking natural wonder located in Chatine. This sinkhole is believed to be over 160 million years old and was discovered in 1952 by a French speleologist.
Formed by a vertical shaft that opens into a large cave system, with three natural limestone bridges spanning the gap, the Baatara sinkhole is surrounded by a lush forest. The sound of waterfalls, which come to life in spring, echo through the cave as the river flows through its underground caverns.
The site attracts thousands of tourists a year, especially those who enjoy hiking, caving, rock climbing or geology.
For more information, call Dr. Fady Chaer, President of Balouu Balaa, on +961 71 454060.
2. Tannourine Nature Forest Cedars Reserve
The Tannourine Nature Forest Cedars Reserve is home to some of the oldest and largest cedar trees in the world. These majestic trees, with their distinctive flat tops, stand tall against the backdrop of rugged mountains, creating a breathtaking vista. The reserve also boasts an abundance of other plant and animal species, including wild boars, wolves and various birds.
The Tannourine Cedar Forest was declared a nature reserve in 1999. Covering an area of 625 hectares, ranging in altitude from 1,300 to 1,800 meters, the reserve protects the largest and most dense forest of cedar trees in Lebanon. Indeed, cedars account for more than 80% of the total number of trees. Other native trees include oak, juniper and maple. The unique geography and topography have, in large part, protected the forest from human exploitation.
Named an Important Bird Area (IBA) in 2006, the reserve offers five hiking trails, which vary in difficulty level and altitude to satisfy a wide range of visitors.
For more information, call Challita Tanios, manager of the reserve, on +961 3 223428.
3. Tannourine Climbing Site
A popular destination for rock climbers, the Tannourine climbing site has over 300 routes, from easy to extremely difficult, with heights ranging from 10 to 70 meters. The area is characterized by towering limestone cliffs and picturesque landscapes, making it a scenic and challenging place for outdoor enthusiasts.
For more information, call Jad Issa, the climber space owner, on +961 71 454060.
4. Millennial Olive Trees of Bchaaleh (Noah’s Olive Trees)
Classified a National Heritage Site by the Lebanese Ministry of Tourism, Bchaaleh has been named as a point of interest by the Routes des Olive, one of the cultural routes of the Council of Europe and was nominated as one of the most beautiful villages in Lebanon in a public poll.
Approaching the village from the south, visitors are greeted by a group of 11 magnificent millennial olive trees. It is believed that the olive branch brought back by the dove following the biblical Great Flood originated from one of these ancient trees, which is why they are often referred to as Noah’s Olive Trees.
The trees are huge, with tall branches planted in a straight line. One of these trees has a diameter of about 28 meters, making it a corral for cattle and poultry.
What makes Bchaaleh even more unique is the fact that it is that at 1,250 meters above sea level, it is the highest village in the world to produce olives.
Despite being thousands of years old, the trees are still healthy and productive. Both the olives and the extra virgin olive oil that comes from these precious giants are highly sought-after by consumers all over Lebanon and beyond.
For more details or to discover more sites of the Batroun District, call Bchaaleh Trails Association on +961 3 808 072.
This article is part of a joint project to promote tourism destinations across Lebanon, launched by the Trade and Investment Facilitation (TIF) activity, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and Hospitality Services.