Key information: Q'adisha Valley
- Walk along this imposing, mystical gorge in Lebanon.
- A refuge for Christian monks for centuries, its cliff-faces are mined with monasteries, churches and cells.
- A moving experience in dramatic scenery, with forests and ancient terracing among the cliffs and a rich bird population.
Walkopedia rating(Top 100)
- Walkopedia rating92.5
- Natural interest14.5
- Human interest16
- Negative points2
- Total rating92.5
- Note: Neg: increasing tourism
- Length: Half day
- Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
The following information is provided by Stephen Barber (many thanks!).
The Qadisha, or Holy Valley, is a deep gorge running approximately east-west in central Lebanon. This valley has been a key site of the Maronite Christians since the fifth century, and a place of refuge over many centuries due to its wild, inaccessible geography and its natural caves. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Many of the monasteries, churches and cells that line its steep cliffs are cut into the rock face. Each has its own animus; some are restored, some still retain an earthen floor and rough stone barrel vaulting. Outside, the air is alive with birdsong and hawks soar effortlessly on thermals rising from the valley floor way below. The steepest slopes between the cliffs are thickly wooded with pine, walnut, evergreen, oak and acacia, the less steep have been cut into terraces by generations of Maronite peasants, who still work the land by hand.
Walk the route eastwards between the monasteries of Qozhaya and Qannoubin, via the hermitage of Hawqa and the sanctuary of St Marina. A hermit, of Colombian origin, still occupies Hawqa.
At the head of the valley, just outside Bcharré, is a small but unique stand of ancient Cedars of Lebanon (the Cedars of God), some of which are said to be over three thousand years old.
Other accounts: share your experiences
Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.
Books and Maps
Books on this walk
Syria and Lebanon Laura Dunston, Terry Carter (Lonely Planet)
Middle East A. Ham, R. Wlodarski, J. Bainbridge, C. Soriano, J. Walker, A. Thomas (Lonely Planet)
Lebanon M. McCrossan, H. Taylor (Globetrotter Travel Guide) 1847734774
From the Holy Mountain William Dalrymple
1001 Natural Wonders You Must See Before You Die Eds., M. Bright and J. Barrett
Lebanon, the Phoenician Pearl J-P. Planquin
Lebanon: Cultures of the World S. Sheehan, Z. Abdul Latif
Lebanon (Globetrotter Travel Map) New Holland Publishers
Syria, Lebanon (Country Map) Cartographia
Lebanon (Travel Reference Map) International Travel Maps
Lebanon (Bartholemew World Travel Map) C. Moore
Stanfords: www.stanfords.co.uk.An excellent (and user-friendly) online specialist source of worldwide maps (it is also good for guidebooks).
Best times to walk/weather
Best times to walk
Spring and Autumn.
Very hot in summer, cold in winter.
See Walk Summary above.
Possible problems, health, other warnings
- Heat and strong sun. Carry enough water and protect yourself.
- Heights: can be dangerous; not for those who have difficulties with heights.
- Harmful animals, including snakes, stinging/biting insects and plants. Take all appropriate precautions.
See also the websites in our useful links page for more detailed, and up-to-date, information.
Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and problems can arise on any walk. Many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks and possible problems. This website cannot, does not purport to, identify all actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to a walk or a country. Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to Important information for further important information.
Make sure you have appropriate insurance.
Guided or independent?
You can do this walk independently.
Traveling here with a knowledgeable guide has real advantages (but take care you get someone competent and agree a fee in advance!). Expedition organisers include:
- Explore! - www.explore.co.uk - reputable and experienced organisers.
- Exodus www.exodus.co.uk
The guidebooks have a selection of possible accommodation. If you book your visit through a tour organiser they will often sort out your accommodation.
- www.lebanontrail.org/hotels has a list of hotels around the QadishaValley, but only names / telephone numbers are available. Sections 5-8 (Ehden Hasroun) would be fantastic locations for trekking in the valley.
- Tripoli is an (inhibiting) option: try www.lebanon-hotels.com/hotels-in-tripoli
Hostelbookersusually has a good selection of cheaper-end accommodation.
Other information and tips
Useful websites and information
There are many websites with relevant information. Here are some that we think are useful or have been recommended to us.
- www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/kadisha_valley As usual, a good starting place.
- Try www.flickr.com for pictures of this walk.
Other things to do in the area
Lebanon Mountain Trail, a newly-opened trail running north-south.
share your experiences
Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).
Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.
Responsible travel matters, a lot. How you travel will make a real difference - for better or worse. PLEASE consider this when making plans. Read more