Hiking Qurnat as Sawda (3088m)


During the autumn 2016 I decided to take a break in the mountains of Lebanon. I love hanging out in nature since my father used to take me on trips around Bratislava, in ours small but beautiful Slovakia.

Johnny confessed to me that he has not had this feeling for years. I am interested about this feeling. Something mystical that is hard to explain. It just disappeared one day. Even though I am about 20 years younger, I can understand it. What I have experienced during my first steps in mountains is hard to explain. Me, Johnny and 2 Norwegian guys are hiking on highest mountain of Lebanon - Qurnat as Sawda (3088m). That is why I came here, that is why I travelled so far away and told no one where I am going and also because my friend who died when he climbed big mountain in China.

I want to return to nature, because he loved mountains so much and I did not visit them much in last years. To experience this again, this freedom and connection with nature. Our civilization is destroying us. I often realize that I can´t process the amount of information I receive. Nature has simple rules, its own rules, even here in Lebanon.

The road is unmarked. Without Johnny - our guide, we would not reach the peak of the mountain. Because in this elevation, there are many peaks and ours is not special. So, it is hard to find the right one. After 4 and half hours we are reaching the highest point of Lebanon - Qurnat as Sawda. We are not seeing sea and the Cyprus today. The weather is quite nice, but it is not enough. One of the members of our expedition Roy started to feel sick. Three thousand meters is three thousand meters. I offered him apple with hope he will feel better. Luckily, he is OK after few minutes.

Johnny explains to us that 2 weeks ago, "bad Muslims "from Bikaa Valley went there and removed Christian symbol from the peak. I felt sorry for this. Lebanon is also famous for religious wars which continues near some places to these days.

Break was great after the hard hike. The wind blows hard up there, we are meeting about 50 meters lower. During our journey, Johnny explains why there are big pits. It is for catching rain and humidity. The big reserves of water for Lebanon come from these places.

Sun is shining significantly, that is why I am hiding my face behind Arab scarf and I am also trying to drink a lot of water and juice.

After walking down, nobody kept talking. Even thought, I am asking Johnny whether he met some Slovaks during 25 years of his career. He said no, that he only met our brothers Czechs. It made me think if I was the first Slovak who climbed this mountain because Johnny climbed this mountain more than thousand times and he is only official guide here. I did not find any information about climbing this mountain in Slovak language, so I am probably first Slovakian on the highest peak of Lebanon, but I am not 100% sure. It is hard to believe, but there are still some places that can be discovered. It is fascinating when you realize this. One more thing about Johnny´s career - climbing the mountain more than one thousand times. Theoretically, is possible (one elderly Austrian guy climbed the highest mountain of Small Carphatians - Hundsheimer Berg more than 3000 times! The difference between elevation of these two peaks is more than 2500 meters, but climbing the Ournat does not have to be big challenge for experienced tourists, because it is basically hiking in higher elevation. According to my abilities and motivation I can tell that one climb was enough for me.

I am celebrating the victory of reaching the top of the mountain alone in local restaurant, because everybody else was too tired. I am accompanied by beer. Cheers Martin!

Practical informations:

  • You do not have to pay for visas to Lebanon, you will get them for free even after landing in Beirut (valid passport)

  • The climb is not difficult - it is basically hiking, but you will need to get enough of warm clothes, water and food (sunscreen will be useful too)

  • You will not find specific map of this place in English

  • Ask me for reliable guide, there are a lot of cheaters who will take you to any peak and they tell you i tis Qurnat. Dont go on your own, you will get lost

  • Avoid the trip during the time when there is snow (danger of avalanche)

  • Do not hurry and start about 8 a.m.

  • Bus from Beirut to Bcharre (town below the peak) stops near the transport hub Dora near the gas station called Total. Journey takes about two and half hours

  • The price of the hike for 4 people in 2016 was 150 dollars, price for one person is 100 dollars

Date of trip: october 2016

Author: Peter Gregor

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