Ares, the jealous husband of Aphrodite, turned himself into a Wild Boar and gouged beautiful Adonis. Aphrodite wept as her lover bled to death in her arms, and where her tears landed red anemones sprang from the ground. Zeus permitted Adonis to return to his lover every six months, and so the spring emergence of these red anemones symbolizes his return. Legend has it that the attack occurred in Afqa at the head of the Adonis Valley, where the Ibrahim River slices a giant gorge through Mount Lebanon. In places the blooms of Aphrodite’s tears seem to be everywhere, as thick on the ground as poppies and many seeming as large, but we’ll soon realize that though there are some Anemone coronaria, most of the tears are none other than Turban Buttercups, magnificent swathes of them.
Much of Lebanon is blessed with good rainfall and so has some of the greenest landscapes in the Middle-east. The terraces and orchards are some of the floweriest places you’ll ever see. Pink-edged white Cyclamen persicum, orange and purple vetches, red Adonis species, yellow Lotus and Securigera and pink Linum pubescens brush the landscape with vibrant colour. The orchids are magnificent. Gorgeous Orchis galilaea, flowers of pale green and white, offset with two deep pink spots, blooms with many Toothed and Anatolian Orchids. False Apollos and Deyrollei’s Festoons fly amongst pastel Orchis syriaca and bee orchids such as Ophrys bornmuelleri and Ophrys levantina in the beautiful Chouf Mountains. Flocks of White Storks, raptors and Bee-eaters fly along the Bekaa Valley migration route as we explore the spectacular temple complex at Baalbeck. A wonderful hotel, perched high above pretty Jezzine and surrounded with orchid-filled garigue, provides a wonderfully comfortable base and superb food. Indeed, the hotels and cuisine throughout this tour are exceptionally good. We’ll explore the highest mountains from Les Cedres, above the Maronite town of Bcharre sitting at the head of the stupendous Qadisha Valley. Fritillaria hermonis and Romulea nivalis join Corydalis and Tulips on the higher slopes and below we’ll look for those magnificent black irises, Iris cedreti and Iris sofrana, both only found in Lebanon.