Even though the weather gets hot and humid this season, there are still many ways to chill out in Lebanon. With the help of athlete and outdoor enthusiast Jad Assi, we put together a list of activities to help you disconnect this summer.
Hiking is a fantastic way to explore the country, especially during the summer when you can admire the glorious green mountains and Lebanon’s colorful landscapes. “When hiking it’s important to pack smartly; a lightweight backpack, at least two liters of water, healthy snacks, like nuts and fruits, and even a light sandwich is what I’d suggest,” says Assi. “My favorite hiking locations are the Horsh Ehden Nature Reserve, Bkassine and the Qannoubine Valley.”
A hiking pole is a good idea if you have a knee or ankle weakness, or just pick up a sturdy wooden stick on your way. You can join hikes with Lebanese Explorers (78 833256), Tourleb (70 484545), Vamos Todos (03 917190, vamos-todos.com) or HighKings (70 270178).
From lush mountains to hidden valleys, Lebanon is full of inspiring places to camp under the stars; and in the absence of clouds during this time of year, the night skies are truly mesmerizing. “Camping requires much more equipment than hiking, so make sure you have around six liters of water, camping gear, wood for a fire and cooking utensils,” says Assi. “In terms of campsites, I’m a fan of Cedars Ground Campsite (76 634631) in Shouf and Heaven Ecoland (71 153141) on the Damour River.”
You can go camping with little to no hiking as some campsites are accessible by car. If you choose to hike before and/or after you camp make sure you pack extra supplies, especially water. If you’re looking to join a group camping experience (or a hike), you can contact Lebanese Explorers (78 833256) or Lebanese Wanderers (71 662862).
- READ MORE: 5 Campsites You’ll Love
Although you can go backpacking all year round, it is easier in the summer as the weather is a lot more predictable and you can wear lighter clothing. Assi says: “The most important thing to keep in mind when backpacking is having enough food and keeping yourself hydrated. You can never pack enough water.”
The best place to start backpacking is along the Lebanese Mountain Trail. Contact the Lebanon Mountain Trail Association (LMTA) to learn more about the trails. You can also purchase maps from their offices (Ghaleb Center, Sacré Coeur Hospital St., Baabda, 05 955302, lebanontrail.org).
- READ MORE: Backpacking Ideas Around Lebanon
It’s been proven that yoga does wonders for the mind, body and spirit; and if practicing yoga in a studio is beneficial just imagine how much better it is being outdoors. “Yoga connects the physical and the mental,” says Assi. “It helps you engage with your whole being, fixes your posture, strengthens your joints, elongates your spine and even detoxes your body.” Some of Jad’s favorite outdoor yoga spots include Beit El Qamar in Deir El Qamar (03 661411) and Tawlet Ammiq in Ammiq (03 004481). Assi says: “Nothing comes close to the beautiful and serene Ammiq.”
Depending on your goal, whether its developing strength or improving flexibility, there’s a type of yoga that will suit you. If you’re not sure where to begin, contact Jad who’ll put you on the right track.
Although meditation and yoga are often thought to be the same thing, they are two distinct practices. “Yoga and meditation are two very different practices. Meditation helps you focus on yourself in the moment, and keeps you grounded,” Jad muses. “It nurtures compassion, empathy, and gratitude, releases you from any dark thoughts and teaches you to accept yourself.”
There are many ways to meditate; the most common of all being mindful breathing, which is a very relaxing practice. Jad recommends downloading a mobile application, like Calm, to get started. If you prefer learning in the company of a professional, you can always register for some guided breathing exercises with Jad.
Photos by Jad Assi