Stretching across northern Lebanon, the Akkar region boasts rustic and untamed terrains adorned with lush greenery and expansive landscapes. Its bountiful forests, valleys, plains, rivers, and waterfalls hide an abundance of hidden tourist gems waiting to be explored - from its rich biodiversity and sacred sites to its archaeological wonders and hiking trails. It's a paradise that caters to the curious minds, as well as history and nature enthusiasts alike. For foodies and socialites, the region's traditional cuisine and warm hospitality of its locals are sure to delight.
When we think of Akkar, our minds immediately drift towards its serene forests, filled with softwood such as cedars and firs. The Cilician fir, in particular, dominates the high mountains of Akkar, and is exclusive to this region in Lebanon. Akkar is also home to the only Turkey oak forest in the country, which takes on a golden hue in the fall, creating a magical atmosphere. The dense forests exude an air of mystery, beckoning visitors to get lost in its vast expanse or simply take a leisurely stroll while enjoying the cool shade during summer months. The Karm Chbat Forest near Kobayat has even been designated as a nature reserve.
But Akkar is not only about the forests - the region is also adorned with vast green plains, intersected with beautiful hiking trails. Despite its mountainous terrain, the area offers expansive valleys to explore, making it a unique and diverse natural wonderland.
"Sliq" is a traditional Lebanese word that refers to a communal gathering for food, where people sit together and share a meal. It's a social event where friends and family come together to enjoy each other's company and share traditional Lebanese cuisine.
Akkar breathes life into the Lebanese tradition of Sliq. Its locals have made foraging wild plants and vegetables from nature an art. Embark on an adventure in the heart of nature, where you can learn to identify, gather, prepare, and cook these bounties of nature, and of course, eat what you harvest. You can indulge in local delicacies such as chanklich - a cheese with a spicy kick that pairs perfectly with onion, tomato, and a drizzle of olive oil in a salad.
Akkar beckons religious tourists to explore its numerous convents, monasteries, churches, and mosques. Many of these holy places have been erected on the ruins of ancient pagan temples, such as the revered Notre Dame de Ghessaleh (Our Lady of the Washhouse) church. This church, associated with water and purity, attracts a large number of visitors.
Another noteworthy religious site is the Mar Challita church in Kobeyat, which was originally a Greek temple dedicated to the god Pan. The church has since been converted into a Maronite holy place and was resurrected by a local woman named Em Walid.
Apart from these, there are numerous small churches and mosques in the region, each with their own unique virtues attributed to them and worth exploring.