Bentael Forest Nature Reserve

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click to go to the Bentael website

What is there to see?
The reserve is a lengthened ribbon, from the East to the West, and covers the right strand of Nahr Bentael, to a width of 100 to 200 meters and a length about one kilometer, for a total surface of 110 ha.

Rising from 250 to 800 m altitude, it constitutes a zone of transition between the Mediterranean vegetation types. Quercus calliprinos is dominant, with the presence of 21 hectares of pines aged of about fifty years downstream to the west.

The natural richness of the reserve is a reflection of the presence of different flora species in a small area, located on very different geographic strata, (covered, semi-open, closed surroundings, forest, underground cave, cliffs, rivers and pans).

It is estimated that more than 330 floral species are found of which 60 have a medicinal use. Rich in underground caves and nearly permanent water basins, the reserve is also a privileged place of shelters to animals. Preliminary observation shows the presence of foxes, jackals, porcupine, and various rodents.

The sunny dry biotope is favorable to the reptiles like snakes, chameleons, geckos, etc. The reserve has been declared an Important Bird Area (IBA) in 2008. It is a pathway for migratory birds, especially for the White Stork.

How do I get there, and practical arrangements?
Access to site is possible through two official entrances: one near the village of Mechehlène and the others in the upper region of Bentael.

To reach the road you follow the coastal road from Jbeil to Tripoli, and after that you should take the secondary road crossing the villages of Edde and Kfarmashoun and climbing up progressively in a west-east direction to the reserve.

When is the reserve open?
The Bentael Nature Reserve is open to visitors all-year-round. Visitors are only allowed in the reserve from 8:00 till 17:00.

What is there to do?

Hiking through the forest with cultural heritage and archeological sites:

  • Inside the Reserve there are the St. John’s rock-cut hermitage and chapel. This 12th century dwelling is located 8m above the ground, and can be reached from the hiking trail. It is composed of three cavities. Researchers believes that the first one was used for habitation and as a refuge in case of attack, the second shelters is the remains of St. John’s chapel, and the third is a water reservoir approximately 2.5m deep and 2 m wide used to collect rain water.
  • Next to Bentael village ≈1km there is the oldest church in Lebanon Saint Théodore , and inside on its wall there are a fresco that belongs to the 9th century.
  • Also there are a stone sculpture that illustrate “the Sacrifice in the Phoenician Culture” from around 1500 B.C.

What is the Cost?
There is no entrance fee, but donations for the management of the reserve are welcome.

Who do I contact for more information or bookings?

Tel & Fax:
00961 9 738 330
Mob: 00961 3 83 89 82

How can I find out more?

http://www.moe.gov.lb/ProtectedAreas/bentael.htm (including a downloadable brochure to the reserve)