Ceramics is getting more and more popular and this competition proved us...
“If I want to deserve to live in this country, I owe it a lot… I am lucky to be in Lebanon”
How we wish everyone in this country felt this way ! Words that remind us of Kennedy's inspiration and represent the energy and virtue of true patriotism in this country.
For those not familiar with the Lebanon Mountain Trail Association (LMTA) let us begin by stating very clearly … they are NOT A TOUR OPERATOR ! If you are looking for someone to guide you through the trails check out the links below.
The LMT was first conceived in 2001 by Joseph Karam and Karim El-Jisr modeling the concept of the Appalachian Trail (AT) in the United States, a 2,175-mile hiking trail from Georgia to Maine established in the mid-eighties. In 2005, through their company Ecodit, they applied and were awarded a US$ 3.3 million grant by the US Agency of International Development (USAID) seeking to promote economic growth in rural areas of Lebanon and the LMT was born.
2005 and 2006 were difficult years in Lebanon but as if the Universe willed the LMT to thrive, many people, with the same patriotism and love for their country that Nadine has, came together and made it a reality and have continued to inspire every year more enthusiastic ‘Champions of the Environment’ (Abtal Al Bi’a) in Lebanon.
We spoke with Nadine Weber the LMTA President in her home town of Batroun about what drives her and some of the most noteworthy endeavors they are working on.
“I can’t live anywhere else, Lebanon is my home and where my friends are, where I am understood” says the hyper overachiever. You have to be slightly hyper to brave some of the difficult terrains on the Lebanese Mountain Trail which have been compared by some visitors to the challenging hikes around Everest.
Nadine has been President of the LTMA since January 2015, although she’s been involved with them since her first hike in 2010. For a volunteer job … yes volunteer … she manages to put in around 6 hours a day really living and breathing the project coordinating with all the board members, active members and staff in an almost perpetual state.
The first priority of the LMTA is the actual Trail itself or the Trail program as it is known. The 470 KM trail is in a continuous state of development and in close collaboration with local communities and municipalities, they have added 30km to the trail in the last year alone. The process of blazing, clearing the path, is an ongoing one as sections of the trail invariably are lost to necessary local developments which in fact, with continued awareness and support could be prevented.
There is no lack of patriotism in Lebanon but perhaps a lack of awareness on the importance of what is being done by the LMTA. Thus far, they have successfully recruited 20 adopters and 7 co-adopters, individuals and associations who are responsible for maintenance and development of specific sections of the trail.
The LMTA also offers a membership program which is growing albeit at a slow place with currently 50 regular members, being those who actually volunteer, 25 supportive members and 55 Life Members. This is a great way for people to contribute. Some of these members are amongst the most interesting, positive and enthusiastic Lebanese and they include people like Avedis Kalpaklian, who has run the LMT in 10 days raising money for various causes, Mira Thoumy and Omar Sakr who are developing programs to bring awareness into the Universities and Schools and a multitude of other fascinating professionals from all walks of life who contribute in some way to preserving our natural habitat and can be found hiking the trails on any given day.
The other focuses of the LMTA are Community Development and Educational Programs. Community development involves mapping the archaeological and heritage sites along the trail, refurbushing guesthouses, training and certifying the guides and developing the general appeal of the sections as Tourism destinations.
The Education programs on the other hand work to bring awareness to the future generations of Lebanon and directly focus on integration of the priorities into curriculums of the Lebanese schools and colleges. Through the Abtal Al Bi’a camps they organise, they are creating a sense of pride and urgency amongst the youth selecting 42 Champions this year with the solid ambitions of converting a whole generation into lovers of our nature instilling a sense of pride to protect our natural habitat.
While it’s not yet possible to know how much revenue the LMT has contributed to the communities along the path, $65k and $25k were injected from Spring 2016 and Fall 2015 LMTA hikes respectively, and to be sure these amounts are only scratching the surface of what can be developed as Locals and Tourists spending money on local guides and lodges continue to grow and this tourism sector reaches a global appeal.
If you do plan to hike the Trail, be sure the lodges are modest and there is no luxury … salon ladies beware ! Despite this you will see some exhilarating sights and stare true happiness in the faces of the locals who through simplicity connect to their natural habitat in the way city folk never could.
For now there is no formal ranking or rating for the lodges and guides, but this is being worked on in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism. Let’s hope this happens sooner than later, and we can avoid a few more Minister’s carving out mountains for their summer villas.
SOBEIRUT Has put together a detailed map with links to the 26 sections of the Trail:
For a complete source of all things related to LMTA visit: www.lebanontrail.org
To become a member of the LMTA visit: