Winter forecast in Lebanon: sunny, with 100% chance of snow

Yes, it’s true. Lebanon is a wintertime ski destination. Tell your friends, but not too many of them. The fact that there’s great skiing in Lebanon is one of the best kept snow-lover secrets out there.

How can you find out more about ski conditions in Lebanon? Skileb.com is the best source of ski weather, conditions, images, and ski chat in Lebanon. We’re always thinking of new ways to keep you informed about what’s up on our mountaintops. Here are three place to go for the latest, most accurate real-time information about skiing in Lebanon:

weather forecast in Lebanon

1) Weather Page on Skileb.com

On the skileb.com weather page, powered by Snow Forecast, you can find all sorts of useful details. Get the specifics about the Mzaar (formerly Faraya Mzaar) ski resort. We also have the weather lowdown on The Cedars, Laqlouq, Zaarour, and the capital city of Beirut. Check out the maximum and minimum temperatures, wind speed, freezing level, and precipitation outlook.

satellite image, snow in lebanon

2) Satellite Images of Lebanon on Skileb.com

Provided by NASA Earth Data, the satellite imagery of Lebanon on our our newest page of Skileb.com is a fascinating big picture of ski conditions in Lebanon. It’s refreshed two times a day. During the wintertime, you can use these satellite images to identify which areas are covered in white. A great way to see Mzaar and the Cedars from way, WAY up!

the cedars in lebanon, webcam

3) Live Web Cams on Skileb.com

The next best thing to being in Lebanon and looking out the window of your chalet in Mzaar, the web cams on skileb.com give you the most updated peek at the slopes in Lebanon. There are four different web cams to choose from. You can spy on the lifts at Mzaar, have a look at Mzaar from MzaarVille Chalets or take a peek at the lifts at The Cedars and downtown Beirut.

Once you see where the fresh powder is falling and when, you can book your chalet in Mzaar or hotel in The Cedars accordingly. And don’t forget to find Skileb.com on Facebook for even more fun and details about all things skiing in Lebanon.

An Overview of Lebanon’s Top Ski Resorts – Part 1

The season is nearly on us once more and, if you haven’t already, it’s time to start planning your next ski vacation in Lebanon.

The old hands and experts will undoubtedly already have their favorite destinations when it comes to choosing a resort, but for all the new people who are yet to experience the rush of a Lebanese skiing holiday, we’re here to give you a run down on the best resorts the country has to offer.

The View from the peak above Mzaar, Lebanon
The incredible view from the peak above Mzaar, Lebanon

The Cedars

Sharing its name with the country’s national emblem, The Cedars Resort is a great destination for those who love nature, or are looking for a relaxing break in (relative) isolation.

Located at an elevation of 2000m, the resort enjoys a slightly longer season than some of the country’s other resorts. In addition to multiple runs, visitors also have access to great hiking routes and incredible views.

The Cedars has plenty to offer to both beginners and experts, with pistes ranging from entry level all the way up to challenging black runs.

Click here to read more about the Cedars Resort.

Laqlouq

Situated at a slightly lower altitude of around 1600 m, Laqlouq is a more accessible resort. In addition to being easy to get to, it also has a range of courses that are slightly more beginner-friendly than other destinations.

While the traditional skiing is excellent, Laqlouq is also known for the quality of its cross-country runs. If you like to complement your pistes with level courses, this is an excellent choice.

Click here to read more about Laqlouq.

Mzaar

Also known as Faraya Mzaar – Faraya being a nearby village. This is Lebanon’s most popular resort and has a huge variety of skiing on offer.

The Intercontinental Hotel, Mzaar
The Intercontinental Hotel - one of Mzaar's most popular accommodation options

Those who love a challenge will be impressed by the sheer number of options available to them, while newbies who are just starting out will receive an excellent introduction on the gentler slopes.

Mzaar is a bustling and welcoming resort with plenty going on. This is an excellent all-round destination and particularly appealing to those who enjoy the après-ski aspect as much as the slopes themselves.

Click here to read more about Mzaar.

Next week we’ll round off our overview of Lebanon’s best ski resorts. Until then, do you have a particular favorite? We’re always keen to hear from you! Leave us a comment below.

Remember, you can also follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook to be in with a chance of snapping up some great early bird offers!

Special Deals for Skileb.com Twitter Followers

It’s that time of year again, when powder-thirsty ski fans start looking forward to the upcoming season with real anticipation. Winter is coming, and Lebanon is gearing up for yet another session of outstanding skiing, snowboarding and general snow-based fun.

Now’s the perfect time to start planning your next ski break in Lebanon. For many, a skiing vacation in Lebanon is a no-brainer; hundreds of people will be making their way back to pristine slopes, such as those found at Mzaar and The Cedars, to re-experience the rush of carving lines on familiar territory.

For those who are yet to experience a ski holiday in Lebanon, there are tonnes of reasons to try something a little different and opt for this unusual and yet rewarding destination. In addition to the quality of the pistes, snow, accommodation and company, the thrill of experiencing skiing is such a unique environment is something that you’ll remember for years to come. With the waters of the Mediterranean and its picturesque coastal villages mere kilometres away, taking a ski holiday in Lebanon is almost like taking two breaks for the price of one!

Follow skileb.com on Twitter

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran of the Lebanese slopes or a newbie looking for something a little different, we have something very exciting to offer. In anticipation of the start of a new season, followers of our Twitter account – @skileb – are going to be the lucky recipients of a number of very special offers. All you have to do to get your hands on them is follow us!

In addition to delivering savings via tweets, we’re sticking with the avian theme by delivering a number of great ‘early bird’ offers on our homepage. Repeat visitors will know that Skileb.com consistently offers great prices on ski holidays in Lebanon, but eagle-eyed users will soon be able to pounce on all-new deals.

Keep visiting Skileb.com to keep on top of everything that’s happening and remember to follow us on Twitter. Only followers will be able to receive these great offers, so sign up now to make sure you’re on the list.

Don’t forget that you can also visit our Facebook page to keep up to speed and to ask us questions. We’re happy to help.

We at Skileb.com are hugely excited for the new season and we want you to be too! Start planning today!

The Wild West Comes to the Cedars

If there’s one thing a good skiier needs, it’s balance. And if there’s one thing that a cowboy on the back of a bucking bronco needs, it’s almost certainly the same thing.

It’s not very often that the passtimes are compared, but now with the arrival of first and – to date – only international rodeo competition to be held in Lebanon rolls into the Cedars later this month. The Cedar Stampede Rodeo And Wild West Festival 2011 will bring plenty of unusual forms of entertainment to an area of Lebanon that’s best know for, amongst other things, its ski resorts.

Ski Leb Wild West

The festival brings with it a wide range of exciting and different passtimes – and offers a great deal more than jsut the opportunity to brush up on your balancing skills. Stunt riders, performers and rodeo champions from around the world will be descending on the El Rancho resort to demonstrate their skills, and perhaps share some tips with those who come to try their hand.

Prices start from 30,000 LBP, but there are discounts available for kids under 10. Things kick off on August 26 and run until September 4.

Ghodras, the small village that will play host to the event, is ideally located close to a number of key cities and towns, making it easy to get to. Bcharre, the focal point for many of the Cedars hotels and ski resorts, is located a short drive to the North East.

Beirut, and its wealth of Beirut hotels, is located a 40 minute drive to the south. Tripoli is about the same distance away up the Mediterranean coast. The beautiful waterfront destination of Byblos is, however, the closest of all – mere minutes away from Ghodras.

Practicing staying upright on your board using a mechanical bull is certainly one option, but there are plenty of other ways to get your fix of adrenaline-pounding excitement during the summer months in Lebanon. Take a look at our summer activites page.

While summer entertainment is an interesting way to pass the time before the ski season begins, the mountains and hills of North Lebanon are known and loved by many for the fantastic skiing experiences that they offer.

It’s never too early to start planning your next on-piste adventure!

Skiers Head to Slopes for Early Season Start

Ski Mzaar Lebanon

Dec 20 – The Daily Star – by Simona Sikimic

Ski Faraya Lebanon

MZAAR: Hundreds of skiing enthusiasts flocked to the mountains over the weekend for the unexpected early start of the ski season.

Many hotels were fully booked in anticipation and traffic stalled as vacationers sought to take advantage of the Ashura break and maximize their time on the slopes.

The recent storms may have lashed Lebanon and wreaked havoc on its infrastructure but they also dumped between one and three meters of snow on the two leading ski resorts, Cedars and Oyoun al-Siman.

Snowfall of this magnitude is not commonly seen until at least Christmas and last year was absent until early February, when Lebanon saw a mere five weeks of prime skiing, well down from the usual four-month long ski period that can last from early December to mid-April.

Lebanese skiing was born in the 1920s under the French mandate when colonials first started being ferried up the slopes on donkeys, with locals trustily carrying their ski equipment in tow.

The area’s reputation grew further during World War II when British soldiers ventured the 130 kilometers from Beirut to ski during reprieves in the fighting. But it was only after independence that the skiing scene truly came into its own, first in the Cedars and later in Oyoun al-Siman, which now boasts some 18 high-tech lifts connecting over 80 kilometers of slopes.

A 45-minute drive north from Beirut and a mere 20-minute drive from the coast, Oyoun al-Siman is seen as an ideal weekend getaway and is famous among foreigners as one of the only places in the world where a person can drive to a beach after skiing in the same day.

Resort nightspots, such as Bar Powder and Igloo, are already crammed with Beirut’s fashionable party crowd who turn the mountains into their personal playground each winter. With even more visitors expected over the holidays and school break, things are only set to get busier and those who were not foreword planning enough to book in advance may well be disappointed.

With its base station at 2,000 meters above sea level, the Cedars may be less well known these days, but with peaks exceeding 3,000 meters, it has the potential to host some of the best powder on offer and attracts its fair share of ski enthusiasts.

Skiing in Lebanon can sometimes feel a little limited but it really does offer everything you need, even for the advanced skier,” said skier Yann Feghali. “The slopes can be challenging and if you are willing to be a little adventurous there is plenty of opportunity to go off slopes and do jumps and tricks.

“Over the last week I have checked the snow reports obsessively to find out when the slopes will open. The snow is surprisingly good for this time of year so I am going to make the most of it, especially as last year was very disappointing.”

While still outflanked by the lift technology and slope variety of many European resorts, tourists keen to experience something different are gradually recognizing Lebanon as a viable alternative.

Its generally more temperate climate, which provides more clear sunny days than other ski destinations and where temperatures rarely fall far below minus 5 degrees Celsius, is being flouted as a big attraction for foreigners keen to escape the biting cold spell currently hitting Europe.

“I’m totally enamored with Lebanon, to think that two weeks ago I was sunbathing on the beach and that now I am skiing in all this beautiful snow is just amazing,” said Emily Morris, an American tourist and first-time visitor to Oyoun al-Siman. “The mountains are simply beautiful and the resort itself is very European, it has much of the same charm.”

New Year’s celebrations are set to be epic with swarms of entertainers being shipped in to woo crowds and extravagant arrays of fireworks set to explode in a distinctly Lebanese fashion.

Snowmobiles, spas, movies, lingerie fashion shows and dauntingly large portions of Lebanese and European mountain food will also draw in a fair share of visitors, whatever the weather.

Cedrus chalets?

Cedrus Chalets Living Area

Cedrus Chalets Twin RoomIf you have been to the Cedars, you have probably noticed a lovely swiss-like hotel majestically carrying the name of the Cedars of God: the Cedrus. And as of winter 2010, you will be able to experience the new chalets associated with the chain: the Cedrus chalets.

Fully furnished and equipped with a charming fireplace in the living room, these 4-star chalets cater to small and large groups looking for a an exquisite experience in the Cedars. Take a look!

Lebanese Olympic skier: Lebanon’s not just sand and desert

Lebanon Vancouver Olympic

CNN Shirine NjeimFeb 2010CNN – Olivia Sterns

(CNN) — When Olympic skier Chirine Njeim tells people she’s from Lebanon, they often laugh in disbelief.

Now at the Vancouver Winter Games, and competing alongside two other athletes from her home country, Njeim still has to convince people she’s telling the truth.

“A coach from another country asked me in the elevator the other day where I was from. I said, ‘Lebanon’ and he just started laughing,” Njeim, who is competing in the Ladies Giant Slalom Wednesday, told CNN.

“I think people think of Lebanon as a desert with sand and camels, but nobody thinks of it as a place that has snow … He was shocked. He just laughed at me … ” she said.

Little did that coach know, there has long been downhill skiing in Lebanon — and world-class ski resorts to boot.

“Skiing in Lebanon is very popular,” explained Ezzad Kraytem, Secretary General of Lebanon’s Olympic Committee. “The slopes are only 20 minutes away from the coast, so you can go to the beach and ski in the same day.” A coach from another country asked me … where I was from. I said, ‘Lebanon’ and he just started laughing –Chirine Njeim

That means there’s a clear view of the Mediterranean Sea from the slopes of Mount Lebanon on most days, according to Kraytem.

Lebanon currently boasts six resorts: The Cedars at Mount Makmel is the largest, while Mzaar (ex Faraya-Mzaar) is the favored destination of the jet-set (it’s also where Njeim got her start aged three).

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Two of the resorts are members-only private mountains. And an expensive seventh resort is in the works, according to Ronald Sayegh, of Ski Lebanon.

“The quality of the snow is one of the main reasons professional skiers love our slopes. Powdery on the surface and hard underneath,” explained Joanne Zarife, a manager at the five-star Intercontinental hotel at Mzaar.

Even though the slopes face north, preserving the snow, the region’s sunshine makes the air mild, even warm, she told CNN.

“The terraces at the bottom are constantly filled with apres-skiers enjoying a cold drink under the tanning sun,” said Zarife.

“Skiing is getting more and more popular, [there is] more international tourism,” said Sayegh. “More political stability draws more people here.”

A lot of expats living in the region come back to ski, Lebanese locally come, Europeans, Australians and South Africans … ” he said.

“A lot more people now know there’s beautiful skiing in Lebanon,” said Njeim.

Skiing in LebanonLast year a record 50,000 people visited the country’s ski resorts, according to Tony Khoury, President of the Lebanese Ski Federation and Head of the Lebanese Olympic Delegation at Vancouver.

At more than 3,000 meters, the peaks of Lebanon’s tallest skiing mountains at The Cedars resort top the highest point of the Whistler Blackcomb resort (2,284 meters approximately), one of the main venues of the Vancouver Games.

Skiing only came to Lebanon in the 1930s though, brought by a student returning from Switzerland where he had developed a passion for the sport at school. In the 1950s, the sport’s appeal really opened up, after chairlifts arrived.

And today it’s not just downhill skiing that draws the crowds. From just ten snowboarders in 1991, today anywhere from 30 to 60 percent of visitors are riders, according to Ski Lebanon. Lebanon’s high, sunny plateaus also make it ideal for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, they say.

Exposed to the best of country’s ski scene an early age, Njeim was quickly hooked. As a child she would watch the sport on television and tell her friends that she wanted to race in the Olympics.

“People thought it was kind of hilarious,” Njeim recalled with fondness.

La Patrouille des Cedres

Organized by Bank Audi sal – Audi Saradar Group

If you are fan of backcountry skiing, or ski de randonnee alpine, then La Patrouille des Cedres is something you would definitely want to be part of. Get ready this March 2008 for an unprecedented world-skiing event in Lebanon, brought in collaboration with the same organizers of La Patrouille des Glaciers in Switzerland, one of the world’s most challenging snow races.

PROGRAM

Friday March 7th, 2008 – The Eve of the Race
An Open Pasta Night – on the house. A nice occasion gathering all contestants to get them acquainted with one another, and mostly to beef up their physical performance with all the carbohydrates they can eat!

Saturday March 8th, 2008 – The Big Day
Beginning of the PDC at 9:00 am sharp.

Evening of Saturday March 8th, 2008 – End-of-race Celebration
Announcement of results and distribution of medal prizes to the winning teams. A complimentary evening of festivities and entertainment will then follow to close the first successful edition of the PDC in Lebanon.

The following 2-days program is proposed for international participants wishing to make the most out of their stay:

Sunday March 9th, 2008: 1st Excursion with Lebanese Adventure*
Hiking trip in the valley of Qadisha (inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list).

Monday March 10th, 2008: 2nd Excursion with Lebanese Adventure*
Visit to the grotto of Roueiss in the Aqoura region – Northern Lebanon

FAQ

WHAT IS THE LANGUAGE SPOKEN IN LEBANON
Although the national language is Arabic, French comes as a close second, and most people speak all three languages, Arabic, French, and English.

WHAT CURRENCY IS USED IN LEBANON
The Lebanese Pound, LBP or LL, is the official currency, but most shops will also accept US dollars as well. The exchange rate has been very stable at LBP 1500 to the US Dollar.

DISTANCES
Like Switzerland, Lebanon is relatively small. The only means of transport though, is by road. No trains or inland flights. From the airport to Beirut are only 10 or 15 minutes. And from Beirut to Faqra Kfardebian, the race venue, is 75 minutes. Therefore, from the airport, at sea level, to the race site at 1650m, is about one and a half hours by car or bus.

FOOD
Lebanese cuisine is famous the world over, and there is no shortage of dishes to savor in Lebanon. The food is varied with meat, fish, rice, pasta, vegetables etc. Most restaurants also offer western cuisine, and some even serve Fondue and Raclette!

WHAT IS THE WEATHER LIKE
It is impossible to predict what the weather will be like on March 8th, but there is a fair chance of having bright blue skies at that time of the year.

TEMPERATURE
Lebanon enjoys relatively mild weather. Although it will almost certainly freeze overnight, temperatures during the day will certainly rise above freezing, and it is not uncommon to experience more than 10 degrees Celsius towards the middle of the day, excluding the wind factor.

WIND
Unless it happens to be a perfect windless sunny day, we may experience some wind, especially on the mountain tops. This is why participants are required to carry a windbreaker or something similar inside their pack. The wind is never threatening, and will not cause anything major but a lowering of the ambient temperature.

SNOW CONDITIONS
Here, we have two basic scenarios.

1- There was a recent snowfall, and the top layer hasn’t yet been packed or transformed. In that case, we will have rather light fresh snow.
2- It hasn’t snowed for more than a week, and the layers, including the top one, have been transformed and packed. In this case, we will experience hard frozen snow in the morning, changing to softer snow as the day progresses.
Either way, the race authorities will lay tracks on the eve of the race, and there will be a trace to follow. Please try your best to keep it intact for those following behind.

AVALANCHES AND CREVASSES
Lebanon has not seen avalanches for the past 30 years, and it would be extremely unlikely to happen on Saturday March 8th. This is the reason why competitors are not required to carry beacons, probes and shovels.
As for crevasses, these are nonexistent given that there are no glaciers in Lebanon.

NEED FOR CRAMPONS, ICE AXES, OR HARNESSES.
There is no need for crampons, ice axes, or harnesses. Although it is not required by the rules and regulations of the PDC, competitors are welcome to bring and use their SKI CRAMPONS or COUTEAUX to be used on race day if conditions are very icy in the morning.

POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE ASCENT
There will be close to 1500m of positive ascent, most of which will be at the early stages of the race. The race will also end with a slight uphill, and there may be a flat portion in the middle where, depending on snow conditions, the stronger skiers will be able to skate without skins on. The start and finish are at the same spot.

ROPES
The two member teams are not required to be roped, but there will be fixed ropes installed at least in one technical passage. Competitors will have to strap their skis and poles securely on their packs, and climb up the prepared steps, handling the rope with both hands for safety. Great care must be taken in order to insure the safety of the competitors below. Any skiers found negotiating that technical passage without their skis SECURELY strapped to their backpack will be penalized. Please see Rules and Regulations.

FOOD AND DRINK
Competitors will have to carry all of their food and drink requirements themselves. The Marshals on the course, are not authorized, and will not, provide any to the competitors, unless it is an emergency of course. A minimum of 600ml of liquid, water or other, and 500 Kcal of food are required to be present in each competitor’s pack at the start. Please see Rules and Regulations.

SAFETY ON THE SKI STATION’S SLOPES
The PDC race organization will take great care to isolate its competitors from the rest of the skiers of the Mzaar (ex Faraya-Mzaar) ski station through which some of the downhill portions are carried. It is however the competitor’s responsibility to avoid the other skiers, especially those being overtaken.

Skiing in Lebanon by Zeina Karam

April 2006The Associated Press

Skiing Lebanon

Mzaar, Lebanon — When Mart Maastik’s friends suggested a ski vacation in Lebanon, he was hesitant — and more than a little skeptical, especially about security.

“Skiing in the Middle East? I’d never heard of that,” the 41-year-old Estonian said while standing in full skiing gear at the foothills of the Mzaar (ex Faraya-Mzaar) mountains.

But Lebanon, with six ski resorts and a season that generally runs from December through April, is increasingly drawing not just Arab tourists, but Europeans, too, industry officials say. Maastik, who is in the real estate business back home, has skied in Austria, Andorra, France “and almost everywhere else,” but he feels Lebanon’s slopes have a different flavor.

“This is quite exotic for us,” he said, saying he was taken with Lebanon’s hospitality and its good weather.

He said he was worried about security at first. “But I decided to forget about politics and come anyway.” Security is a question for many visitors.

Business at the area’s biggest hotel, the InterContinental Mountain Resort & Spa, plunged more than 30 percent in 2005 because of political instability in Lebanon, general manager Robert Zogbi said. The country has seen at least 16 bombings since October 2004, the largest of which killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri a year ago.

But the five-star lodge, sitting only few hundred yards from the nearest slopes, has managed to offset losses. It had a 98 percent occupancy rate in February, Zogbi said.

Many foreigners come to Lebanon for the cheaper prices and relaxed atmosphere. The weather, less stormy and more sunny during the skiing season than at many European resorts, is also an attraction, as is the mountains’ nearness to the coast and Beirut.

“You can ski in the morning and go fishing or shopping or sightseeing in the afternoon. It’s a very unique advantage,” Zogbi said.

The best equipped and most popular of Lebanon’s ski areas is the Mzaar (ex Faraya-Mzaar) area, a one-hour drive northeast of Beirut. The resort has around 20 slopes and 53 miles of ski trails. Other areas include Laqlouk, Zaarour and The Cedars — the highest of the resorts with an altitude above 6,600 feet.

Sam Waugh, 22, a learning support teacher from Britain, said he’d always wanted to learn skiing but was too intimidated to do it in Europe. So when his brother who works in a refugee camp in Beirut suggested Lebanon, he agreed.

“It’s really good. No one laughs when you fall here. No one cares,” he said as he struggled in his skis.

Although there are no official figures for the number of visitors, industry officials say the number of visitors is growing, with tourists coming from all over the Arab world and Europe.

Skiing as a leisure sport is catching on among Arabs, most of whom live in hot, desert countries. “We’re getting young people from the UAE (United Arab Emirates), Kuwait, Jordan, as well as Western expatriates living in those countries,” said Nicole Wakim, sales and marketing manager for the Mzaar resort.

An indoor ski Dubai dome was opened last year in Dubai, complete with snowmaking jets and huge air conditioners to simulate the real thing.

Zogbi doesn’t view that as competition. On the contrary, he said, it creates new business by encouraging young people from the Persian Gulf to come to Lebanon’s slopes for the real thing.

He said Lebanese resorts also have benefited from toughened security in Western nations since the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.

“All the Arabs who used to go to foreign countries suddenly became subject to intense scrutiny. Arabs do not like that and are choosing to come here instead,” he said.