September 26, 2011

Swimming in the Nahr Ibrahim

A well-kept secret (for me, at least). The color is almost fake, but in the deep part, this is the actual color.

Fall is in the air. This place has four very distinct seasons, and fall has started right on time; the rains have come, and the temperature (in the mountains at least) has dropped a good 6 degrees overnight. It is one of the best times to go out into the country (well, spring’s pretty good too). And it surprises me that – after so many years in this country – there are still places that manage to surprise me. But somehow there are still areas that do just that. This Sunday I went to such a place, quite by accident.

Swimming in the misty Nahr Ibrahim

I had wanted to take my BIL, SIL and kids for a picnic to a little waterfall I had visited last spring. Of course with my GPS, you never ever find anything back, except your way home, and so we got lost. And while we were driving along the Ibrahim River, about to go through a little tunnel, the road was suddenly blocked off by this gate.

The gate that blocks the road

It’s quite odd; there is nowhere an indication that this is a dead-end road, and the road actually continues, you can see it. But there’s this iron gate, right in the tunnel, with a padlock, and that’s the end of the public road. Apparently the electricity company uses this part of the river to generate electricity, and it’s not open to the public. It’s a puny little power plant, and I cannot find anywhere how much electricity they generate.

Plenty of long and dark tunnels to hike through
But with a little ingenuity you can walk around the tunnel. So we left the car behind, and climbed past the tunnel, back onto the main road on the other side of the grill. And then there’s . . . another tunnel. This one is pitch dark, and quite long, and then when you walk through it, there’s . . . another even longer and darker tunnel. Once you get through that one, you arrive to a place in the river that has been dammed off and is a little lake. This part of the river runs through a narrow gorge, and there’s high mountains all around you.

Olympic diver ?

The color of the water was so fantastically turquoise that it almost looked fake. The place was totally deserted safe for one lone fisherman. We sat down for a picnic, and when it started to rain, the trees overhead kept the rain away. We swam in the mist. The water was nice and crystal clear, and fall leaves were floating on the surface. What a surreal and beautiful place, just forty kilometers away from Beirut.

Muddy kids

Later on two hikers came crashing down the mountain, swam across the river and moved on.
I assume the electricity company opens the gates a little wider every now and then, and although we were not swimming right near the dam, I guess an extra power surge would have sucked our entire family into the turbines, or whatever you call that pipe in the dam through which the water runs. But if you don’t risk anything, you do not experience anything either.

Nahr Ibrahim

Now I had actually seen pictures of this particular place, but never knew where it was and how to get there, and sort of figured it was something that had existed during the war, or before the war, but was no longer there. And now we sort of stumbled upon it.
The road continues after the lake, but apparently it’s closed off from the other side as well, according to the fishermen. So here’s a stretch of previously public road, along one of the most beautiful swimming spots ever, and it’s blocked off.

But it is probably the only reason why it is still – relatively – clean. Obviously we were not the first people to picnic here, but from the look of some of the trash, we may have well been the first one to haul are own garbage back home again. I don’t get that; going to a place that you obviously choose for its beauty, and when you leave, you have no qualms whatsoever about leaving all your trash behind. I  say; ‘keep that gate in place’.
Little frog on a rock. It’s hard to see, but his little hands and feet are almost transparent.

And I’m not going to tell you where it is either.


Anonymous said...

you wouldn't be able to find it back yourself, would you? Y.

Sietske said...

Yes I can, because my camera has an in-built GPS. Each picture comes now with its coordinates!!!!

PepsiCanPat said...

After the dam, you have to cross to the to the left side of river and go up, then cross back to the right side and take a narrow uphill path to your right when you see a smaller creek joining the river.

The waterfall is nice, but the small pool around it is even nicer :-)

Sietske said...

@ PepsiCanPat
You know this place better than I do!!!! Who are you? I think we need to hook up :)

Nick said...

Beautiful! Are you just good at this or lucky or both...

cheers. and I brought my gps so I'll be hunting beauty spots before long.

Anonymous said...

Isn't that Camp Yahshoush ,it's known for its beauty ,I'm almost sure it is,what makes me bothered is all those pple in Leb who can't stop throwing their trash

Fotobi said...

Hey Sietske,
the place loooks amazing. Could you explain to me how to get there? We are planning Nahr Ibrahim this weekend, and it just sounds like a perfect spot :) Did you go up along the valley on the right or left side (coming from Beirut)? I will be grateful for you help.

Sietske said...

Coming from Beirut? It's the right side of the river.

wissam kassem said...

Hello Sietske,
I wanted to let you know that these are some really nice photos and you're lucky finding this wonderful place.
But would you be kind sharing with me the exact location of this tremendous place? I'm actually planning a small trip myself.
Your sincere,
Wissam Kassem

Sietske said...

Wissam, just got back from holidays. Send me an e-mail (galama at cyberia dot net dot lb) and I'll send you the details!

monu gakhal said...

hi sietske I'm going to nahr ibrahim next month. do you think its dangerous to travel to this spot alone? is there any such meet ups or people i can travel with particularly to the lake you saw!! i don't want to miss the opportunity to go