May 03, 2009


It is spring time in Lebanon, and the wildflowers are coming out in full force. Although we’re officially situated in a desert biome, this place is absolutely green. I went on a number of walks (read strolls) over the long weekend, and the place was teeming with flowers.
A meadow in Jabal el Knisse (above Hammana)

A side-effect is the ticks; the place is teeming with those as well. Although I haven’t heard of Lyme disease in Lebanon (everyone over here is obsessed with swine flu at the moment), I had to pick off at least 20 ticks per dog every time I took them through the fields. And H. – after first giving an intricate explanation as to how come her dog had ‘fallen’ into her bed at night - woke up this morning with a tick right under her eye, and another one on her body. Well, you know what they say when you sleep with dogs.
Parasol Pine Forest
A staircase in the forest
Ground covered with Cistus salviifolius

On Saturday, I walked through a parasol pine forest, the ground covered with white flowers, until we - in the middle of the forest – stumbled upon a staircase that led all the way to the top of the hill, where a gate gave access to an abandoned house overlooking a cliff and the valley of the Beirut River. A beautiful property, obviously abandoned during the civil war and never fixed since, stood on top of the cliff. We strolled around the property for a good hour, looking into all the buildings and rooms and gardens. When I asked hubbie what the words on the garden gate read, he replied: “Beware; mines.”
Beware; mines.”

There are a lot of monumental houses here that were (partially) destroyed during the war and never rebuild. It is a pity, because there is plenty of new construction going on, so obviously there is a need for housing here. Mind you, these are all summer residences, for when Beirut gets too hot and humid in the summer. And a lot of them go to Gulf Arabs. In winter time this place is pretty dead.
Double Waterfall

On Sunday, we played Heidi in the Alpine meadow, on the mountain top above Hammana, where the Sohat water factory gets its water. There’s a double waterfall, which is the beginning of the Beirut River, but access is difficult. You have to walk along an old irrigation channel to get there, and in some parts the narrow channel is all there is between a mountain wall and a sheer drop, which is tricky to negotiate with a 6-year old and a blind/deaf dog in tow. On the other hands, it ensures the pace stays clean. The waterfalls look over Hamana and the valley. There were thousands of flowers in the meadow. A 'Heidi' meadow above Hammana. In the distance you can see the bridge (one of some 70) that got bombed in 2006 by the Israelis. It is stillbeing rebuilt.

The Beirut River, which starts so beautifully, ends very unceremoniously in a sewer canal in Karantina.

I think I have plugged this web site before, but it has categorized all the Lebanese wildflowers, and I have never seen as many different flowers as the region in which I am now (Hamana/Baabda), which is a region some 35 kilometers east of Beirut.


xqwzts said...

Sietske: any chance you could give up the location of that house/staircase/forest? :)

Anonymous said...

it is a house right at the entrance of Sbaniyeh, on the road the Hammana (left side of the road). The forest lies under it. The staircase leads from the house into the forest, and then ends halfway. If you continue, you end up near some houses that are in the lower part of Sbaniyeh.

Mathius said...

I was going to ask the same question as xqwzts. I am am avid reader of you blogs and I have noticed that you go to a lot of interesting places in Lebanon that I didn't even know existed. My question is, could you please include the GPS position of the places you go to? Thanks in advance.

Rami said...

just like xqwzts and Mathius, I'd like to know the coordinates of that house and I would really appreciate it if you include the coordinates of the nice places you visit.
Thanks to Anonymous for the information.

xqwzts said...

Thanks Sietske!
Should pay it a visit some time soon. Hopefully it won't be crowded with the likes of Rami and Mathius...

boum said...

no doubt one has to be really lebanese to be attracted by... mines!
wlik give them the GPS position ya 3ammé ; )

Sietske said...

For the adventurous among you:
Staircase in the woods:
Entrance to the house: 33°48’57.00”N & 35°42’28.94”E (Climb the fence, walk to the house and take a left. Staircase is at the end of the garden, leading into the woods.)
Heidi’s Meadow & waterfalls:
Entrance road: 33°49’06.40”N & 35°44’31.28” E (you’d need to park the car there, and walk up the hill all the way until a little structure where pipes are passing through. Climb onto the roof, and follow the irrigation channel. This will get you to the first water fall. I am sure if you continue the way, you get to the first as well, which is much higher)
Can't give you the coordinates of the mines. :)

Rami said...

Thanks a lot :)

techcrunch said...

beautiful pictures