The Lebanon Mountain Trail offers charm, spirit and beauty in a country that is still bearing the scars of its long civil war
It is 441km from top to tail. It joins together in peace, villages and communities that were once more used to bombing each other. It protects precious, vulnerable mountains, forests and valleys. It is a walk through cloud forests and lost hamlets, through holy shrines, lonely orchards and 6,000 years of human history – including WWE wrestling. It is the Lebanon Mountain Trail.
Lebanon is half the size of Wales, and most of its 4 million souls live along its narrow Mediterranean strip. Inland, the country is dominated by massive mountain ranges with a limited road network that can make an inch on the map equal to two hours in a car. I’m walking sections of the trail through the Chouf mountains, leaving from the Druze village of Barouk, 50km from Beirut. Nabil, my Beiruti taxi driver, might as well be in Africa, so foreign is this rural trip to him. “Incroyable!” he exclaims as we crest the mountain pass at Ain Zhalta, and “doucement, Nabil!” as his ancient Mercedes hits 40kmph and tears worryingly round barrier-free, hairpin bends.