Ecolodge on the doorstep of North Lebanon's Wonders
North Lebanon offers some of the most isolated and pristine landscapes in Lebanon. A perfect base from which to explore these is Jabalna Lodge in the Al Morgan Forest, a few kilometres out of Qoubaiyat.
Set up by local businessman George Karam, the bungalows are under tall pine trees and are all well equipped, offering inside cooking and outdoors barbeque facilities, comfortable beds with bedding and sufficient blankets for the colder months, solar-heated hot showers and a lounge area with sofas that can be turned into additional beds and a TV. The larger bungalows can fit up to three sleeper sofas in the lounge area, in addition to up to four people in the bedroom.
It’s quiet and peaceful up here – so bring books, games, enjoy napping to the sound of the wind in the pines. The area immediately surrounding the lodge offers a few opportunities for short walks. There’s a lookout hill, past the Morgan restaurant, in one direction from which all of Qoubaiyat can be seen, and plenty of orchards walking towards the road connecting Qoubaiyat and Hermel.
Karam knows the region and as a keen mountain biker and hiker, he will have plenty of tips to share. There are few guide books and maps, so make sure to sit down with him when planning your outings. You might want to consider hiring a guide.
About half an hour’s drive from Jabalna Lodge is the Karm Chbat nature reserve, which lies between 1400 and 2100 meters high, and boasts beautiful hundreds of years old juniper and cedar trees.
The area is quite isolated so make sure you pack a hearty picnic when heading out for the day. Near the Eco-Lodge is Morgan’s restaurant at the lookout hill (check if they’re open). Alternatively Monteverdi is a few minutes down the road. In Qoubaiyat itself, there are a few cafes and eateries, notably Karam’s and some good restaurants, among them Challal Essamaq, a fish restaurant next to the river, and Al Wadi. Signage is sketchy, so ask locals for directions.
Jabalna is a great (long) weekend getaway all year round, offering cross-country skiing possibilities when there is abundant snowfall.
Little English or French is spoken in the area-bring phrasebooks, Google maps and time.