When I was in Lebanon over Eid a friend of mine told me about a place called La Reserve. It’s a location deep inside Lebanon where you could do a bunch of outdoor activities under the supervision of experts. We decided to turn it into a two day plan, first we’d camp for the night in a beautiful isolated area and then the next day we’d head to La Reserve which would be around a two hour drive from our campsite.
Camping was great, it had been ages since I had done it and I completely missed it.
Next morning we woke up at dawn and headed towards La Reserve.
Those of you who’ve been to Lebanon or know Lebanon, La Reserve is located in an area called Afqa and once you hit Jbeil (Byblos) it’s around an hour and a half drive from there. The road starts really great and wide but once we started hitting the old villages the roads turned narrow and slow. We finally reached the destination and we met up with the people running the place and they told us to choose our activities. We chose the zip-line, rappelling, rock climbing, mountain biking and caving.
We started with the zip-line which turned out to be pretty disappointing. The zip-line is a cable line that’s tied at both ends and you get hooked onto it and zip down the line. It was really unexciting and very short. A snoozer and I’d skip this activity. The second activity we did was rappelling. This was also unexciting. Rappelling is when you descend a rock cliff using a rope (pictured above). You hold the rope with two hands and when you open your hands you start to drop and when you close your hands you stop. The best part is your first step off the cliff but after that there really isn’t much to it. Looks harder than it is but really gravity is doing all the work. After rappelling we did mountain biking which was horrible. The bikes were rusted with deflated tires and the road was a brutal uphill filled with rocks. I kept wishing I had brought my own bike since the view was a killer and I just wanted to keep going but the bike was falling apart.
So really this whole two hour trip was starting to look like a waste and you’re probably wondering why I’m even posting about it. Well after the bike ride everything got so much better. First we had lunch which was your typical Lebanese mezza followed by grills but everything we had was delicious and unexpected since we weren’t really expecting anything good from them by this point.
Once we were done with lunch we headed to the rock climbing area. This turned out to be a lot of fun, like the best fun I’ve had in ages. It was exhausting, difficult and I personally left with a lot of cuts and bruises all over but I repeat, it was A LOT of fun. If you’ve ever done the climbing wall at Marina Waves then this is kinda similar except instead of climbing up an artificial wall you’re climbing up a real cliff. They have different cliff faces to climb each with a different degree of difficulty going from level 1 up to 7. It was such a blast that I’d go back just for that. We managed to get to complete levels 1 to 3 but by then the sun was starting to set and we had one more activity to do, caving.
We were all tired and none of us wanted to do it. We thought it was going to be a waste of time but they told us the cave was located on the road out of the village and we could try it out, 5 minutes in if we did’t like it we could leave. So we went for it and good thing we did since it turned out to be an unbelievable experience.
The cave is around 6km long and still not fully discovered. It’s not a cave that’s been prepped for tourists with lights and walking paths and it’s definitely not for anyone that feels claustrophobic. The only lights we had were the ones on our helmets. When we first walked into the cave we had to go through a hole in the wall (pictured above) that was less than meter in diameter and required us to crawl in the muddy ground for a few meters before we got to the other side. The idea of being in this dead space inside the mountain with no phone signal and no lights except for the ones on our helmets was just freaky.
We kept going in climbing down wet and slippery rocks in out of different large rooms only to go back into extremely tight and long crawl holes (pictured above) and then up steep ledges. It was scary and fun both at the same time. Since it was Lebanon the guides decided to take a smoke break half way through the trip. It’s like WTF we’re in a cave! Then at one point we had to choose between two options, a passageway with freezing water up to our shoulders or another tight low ceiling and long passageway. I think that was the only problem with the caving, is the fact we weren’t told what to expect and so we weren’t dressed appropriately.
An hour later we finally came out in another location from where we started and it was just breathtaking. After being in the dark cave for an hour we came out as the sun was setting into an open space that wouldn’t look out of place in Jurassic Park. It was so beautiful and it was a relief to finally be out in the open again. I loved the whole experience.
If anyone is planning a trip to Lebanon I highly recommend you book a day with La Reserve. I’d go back again and spend the first half of the day rock climbing and the second half freaking out in the dark cave. Lunch was also fantastic and the price for a whole day full of activities and lunch came out to be just $58 per person. That’s it. I can’t think of anything you could do in Lebanon for a full day thats as fun and for just $58. So if you’re interested in outdoor activities check them out. Here is a link to their [Website]