|Looking for Oyoun el-Samak in the mountain peaks and deep valleys|
Next on our itinerary (on May 8) was trying to find Oyoun el-Samak (water springs fish), a beauty spot some 30 km north of Tripoli. It was Bahaa’s idea. He had seen footage of the place in the Nancy Ajram video, Ehsas Jdeed (A New Feeling) and was keen to take us all there. The map said it would take about an hour. But that’s at bird’s flight and if you knew where you were going!
It is remarkable how many wonders this 10,452-sq.km. country, bordered by sea and mountains, holds. Among them: the Cedars, Byblos, Jeita Grotto, Qadisha Valley, A’anjar, the Pigeon Rocks and Oyoun el-Samak.
|The mothballed Tripoli oil refinery|
More than 100 kilometers north of Beirut, the roads are narrow, winding and bounded on both sides by olive groves, mountain peaks and deep valleys. The air is cleaner and cooler and fog envelops the sky.
|Lost in the mountains: The air is cleaner and cooler and fog envelops the sky|
Oyoun el-Samak lies between the districts of Denniyeh and Akkar, near
the village of Saffaret al-Katih. Denniyeh, east of Tripoli, extends as far as Akkar to the north; Bsharreh and Zghorta to the south; and eastwards to Baalbek and Hermel. It is a part of the country that has a rich water table, including Nahr al-Bared and its tributaries, of which is Oyoun el-Samak.
After driving on the small, winding roads for more than two hours, we finally stopped next to a house that overlooked the whole valley, to stretch our legs, take pictures and ask for further direction. We were lost.
We were then told we had to turn around and take another route. About half an hour later, we started (with difficulty) crossing some minibuses full of people and felt that we were getting closer to our destination, which at one point we thought we would never find.
|Suddenly, just around another bend in the road...|
|... a towering mountain with gushes of water springing from within the trees|
|Springs wherever you look|
As soon as we were in full view of the magical lake and waterfalls of Oyoun el-Samak, we saw cars and buses and many motorcycles and Vespas parked with people milling around everywhere. Cars have to cross an iron bridge to park.
|Cars have to cross an iron bridge to park|
|The view of the lakes, beyond the electric power station|
Just underneath the springs -- with water flowing on all sides and through the greenery and wild flowers -- is a restaurant. They have large speakers with music covering the whole region with people eating, dancing and enjoying their Sunday break.
|The restaurant at Oyoun el-Samak|
|Jennifer crosses the roped bridge...|
|... and tries not to get wet from the spray|
|The beauty of Oyoun el-Samak|
|George wets his feet in one of the Oyoun el-Samak springs|
|Families enjoying the day out|
|Basking in picnics with traditional coal BBQs|
|Beautiful wild flowers all over|
|A poppy adds some color|
|Lunch for these picnickers is nearly ready|
Luckily, we took correct directions, and were back on the highway heading south to Beirut in about half an hour.
But the day wasn’t over yet! There is one more surprise that Jennifer, George, Bahaa, Antonio, Rudy and Charbel had in-store for me – lunch and dinner at another of Lebanon’s wonder spots. But that’s for the next post!
Meantime you can ride with us to Oyoun el-Samak and visit the natural springs and lakes beauty spot in pictures.
Lebanon: The day we drove north – 14 May 2011
Breakfast in Sidon – 30 November 2010
Bahibak ya Libnan – 22 November 2010