Beautiful and challenging, Lebanon remains one of most intriguing destinations in the Middle East. Lebanon tour led by Nicholas Blanford.
Dates: 2 - 10 February 2017
Price: from £3940.00
Single Supplement: £500.00
Glamorous and challenging, scarred by war and yet remarkably stable; Lebanon defies all expectations. Our Lebanon tour delves into the country’s recent past, explores the impact of the conflict in Syria and looks at the balance of power between its diverse religious groups. We meet with some of Lebanon’s best-known political leaders from Nabi Beri to Walid Jumblat and visit the wonderful Roman ruins at Baalbek.
Our journey starts in Beirut and then winds its way down the Mediterranean coast to Tyre in the south. After visits to forts both ancient (Crusaders) and modern (Hezbollah), we view the border with Israel and then head north through the Bekaa valley and its vineyards. From Baalbek we return to Beirut for talks with some the country’s leading figures.
Our tour includes meetings with a wide range of communities including the Palestinians, Syrian refugees and the main key Lebanese religious groups; Christians, Shia, Sunni and the Druze.
The tour is lead by Nicholas Blanford, one of the foremost commentators in the region and a frequent writer on Hezbollah. We first ran this tour in 2016 to rave reviews.
Day one: Arrival in Beirut
Our Lebanon tour kicks off with dinner with the Political Tours team and Nicholas Blanford.
Day two: Beirut
Tour of central Beirut. From the civil war to the huge development boom of the 2000s, we take a look at how the capital has changed. Walking tour of the Green Line with two former fighters from the civil war. Meet with an architect and local activist. We head downtown for an introduction to the city centre and government buildings. We visit Buri Hammoud, the Armenian Neighbourhood. Meeting with a member of the municipal council; and a local Armenian family that has lived in the city throughout this time. Armenians are hosting many families from Syria. Later we meet with the Director of the Asfari Institute at the American University; and author of “Refugees and Lebanon from 1948 to the present.” Overnight in Beirut
Day Three: Tyre
On Day 3 of our Lebanon tour, we stop en route at Mleeta, a former Hezbollah base and now tourist centre. We visit the Beaufort castle en route which has spectacular views of the border area before entering Tyre, where we meet with a dynamic local film director who runs an NGO working with separate religious communities. Dinner in the port at Tyre. Overnight in Tyre
Day Four: to Chtaura
Tyre is a Hezbollah controlled municipality. Meeting with the mayor of Tyre, who outlines the main challenges facing the city. We head to the southern border with Nicholas Blanford. We visit the Blue Line – the redrawn border after Israeli withdrawal in 2000. Here we view all three borders (Israel, Lebanon and Syria) as well as Mount Herman. Later we head north towards Baalbek and visit a vineyard in the Bekaa valley. Lebanon’s wine trade is a major success story; visit Chateau Khoury. Overnight in Chtaura
Day Five: Baalbeck
Meeting with the mayor of Baalbek. The impact of the war in Syria and the extent of the refugee crisis is by far the most pressing issue in Lebanese politics. There are major Syrian refugee camps here. We meet with a local NGO supporting Syrian refugees. There are an estimated 100,000 in the municipality. Visit to Roman ruins and the Palmyra hotel (in the footsteps of Charles de Gaule, Jean Cocteau and the Shah). Meeting with a Syrian family and dinner with local AFP correspondent. Overnight in Chtaura
Day Six: Beirut
The Palestinian refugee camps played a significant role in Lebanon’s civil war and are a reminder of the long term legacy of receiving high numbers of refugees. Are there lessons to be learned here? We visit the Chatilla refugee camps (situation permitting) with a local NGO. We then head downtown to the American University in Beirut. Meeting with the vice-president of the Central Bank. And later with one of Lebanon’s best known journalists and an academic. Visit to the Daily Star and meeting with its editor-in-chief. Overnight in Beirut
Days Seven & Eight: Beirut
Meetings with senior Lebanese politicians, diplomats and analysts. These meetings are subject to confirmation nearer the time. Friday morning; we head to Sfeir in the southern suburbs for a meeting with Hezbollah’s Charge D’Affaire for International Relations. Walk along the Corniche and meet with NGO fighting against appropriation of Beirut Coast. The same groups are also involved in the rubbish protests. Further meetings will be confirmed nearer the time. Overnight in Beirut
Day Nine: Beirut
Lebanon Tour ends after breakfast
Most meals and all accommodation are included in the price of our Lebanon tour. Flights are not included and need to be arranged with your own travel agent. If you would like to join this tour please contact us at [email protected] or call +44 834 289 2349
Like all our tours, the itinerary is focused on current affairs. Events on the ground may change and the final schedule may be adjusted accordingly.