Hidden Skiing Gems – Mzaar, Lebanon
Hunt around for somewhere new to ski and Lebanon might not exactly stand out – especially at the moment. Its political troubles aside, Lebanon has something to offer and in recent history has been a playground for the rich and fabulous. Its excellent climate, striking scenery and surprising geography combine to offer some unique experiences. An old friend living in the seaside town of Byblos recently recommended to me the skiing areas of Mzaar, Cedars and Laklouk. There is a mature set of resorts and slopes here which have been operating commercially since the 1950’s and provide the opportunity to sample alpine skiing with the chance to go swimming in the Mediterranean in the same day.
Worth a look and despite the troubles in the Middle East, the British Foreign Office Travel Advice is calm, albeit with a few words of caution. Steering clear of downtown Beirut is wise, and staying completely away from Tripoli and the Palestinian camps remains essential. That aside, traveling to Mzaar via the coast around Byblos is easy and relatively safe. Perhaps something for the 2010 season depending on the political situation.
Lebanon winter sports remain on my list to sample. Check out the dedicated website to find packages and prices. There is an article there by Frank Coles of the UK Guardian newspaper which describes the charms of Mzaar well. The scenery is breathtaking and the pistes professionally maintained with good resort facilities, accommodation and some of the best cooking in the world.