Beqaa Ecotourism

The word “Beqaa” is synonymous with the term “Beqaa Valley” due to the eye-capturing plain that occupies the region’s central terrain. Surrounding the fertile plain are the beautifully barren Anti-Lebanon mountains to the East and Mount Lebanon to the West. The Beqaa region offers tourists diverse natural locations – from arid to luscious green – rendering it suitable for all sorts of outdoor activities. Exploring the Beqaa’s historical sites is an added incentive not to be missed.

Ammiq Wetland

(900m – 54 km from Beirut)

Ammiq Wetlands (100 hectare – 250 acre) is the last significant wetland in Lebanon, a remnant of much more extensive marshes and lakes that once existed in the Beqaa Valley. This natural beautiful spot remains an important staging and wintering area for migratory waterbirds en route between Europe and Africa. Reedbeds of Phragmites sp. and Typha sp. dominate, interspersed with open fields of coarse pasture.

The site has been designated as an Important Bird Area: notable species include the globally threatened Black-winged Pratincole, Ferruginous Duck, White Pelican and Great Snipe. Local people and visitors from other parts of the country use the area for outdoor recreation. During the summer the site provides irrigation for the surrounding agricultural land and supports livestock grazing.

Getting There …
From Chtaura, drive two kilometers to the west, i.e. toward Beirut, then turn left to the village of Qab Elias. From here it is another four kilometers to Ammiq.

Ain Zerqa

The “Blue Source” of the Assi River (the classical Orontes), is about 200 meters southwest of Deir Mar Maroun (monastery of. St. Maroun) in the Hermel region. The source, which gushes out from beneath the rocks, is an ideal picnic place. The caves nearby are also worth exploring. Look for the niche facing the springs and some walls of classical masonry on the hillside above.

Getting There …
Take the road from Baalbeck north toward Hermel, passing through Deir Mar Maroun (The Monastery of St. Maroun). The source of the Assi River is some 200 meters southwest of this town.

Dirdara

This lovely spot is about 58 kilometers north of Baalbeck via Hermel. At the base of fast-flowing rapids are several outdoor restaurants where diners can enjoy the cool atmosphere of rushing water Large rubber dinghies are available for mini-excursions to the foot of these impressive cascades on the Assi River .

Getting There …
Take the road from Baalbeck north toward Hermel, Dirdara is about 58 km north of Baalbeck.

Qaraoun

Being the only man made lake, the Qaraoun lake, 11 sq km, is very famous in the country. Located in the Beqaa, it constitutes the most important source of water in the area.

Further more, it is considered one of the most fascinating sights of the country that shouldn’t be missed.

You can also find different fish serving restaurants on the lakeside as well as enjoy boat rides, and water skiing.

Getting There …
From Beirut take the Beirut-Damascus highway towards Chtaura. From Chtuara head south toward Mashghara. The lake is 30km away from Chtaura.

Yammouneh

(950m – 110km from Beirut)

The Yammouneh area is an interior valley located at 1100m elevation with highly specialized characteristics. The Yammouneh valley represents a geologic fracture between the two continents of Asia and Africa along the eastern Mediterranean. The fresh water at this elevation and location constitutes a special ecosystem for animals (fish, reptiles, birds), and plants (junipers, abies, cupressus and cedars).

The golden fish, thought to be extinct in this habitat, was found recently in small ponds and in few numbers. Rehabilitation is badly needed for this unique species of fish and distinct habitat. The medicinal plants, numerous at such habitats, have very high potential and are important for future economic development.

Getting There …
From Chtaura take the Baalbek road, passing through Zahle to Ablah. Choose the left fork. Yammouneh is about 66 km from Chtaura.