São Paulo – São Paulo, Brazil-based tour operator Líbano Tour is offering trips to Lebanon in May and October next year. These will be the eighth and ninth such excursions for the company, which has made a name for itself by having travelers meet up with relatives in Lebanon, as well as taking them to tourist spots.
The schedule includes off days so travelers can engage in exclusive and personal activities. According to Líbano Tour co-owner Luciano Aschkar, the company provides full support so Lebanese descendants or natives can visit their family’s hometown on off days, including Líbano Tour cars and drivers. (Pictured above is a traveler with relatives in Lebanon)
“Many have family [back in Lebanon] but have lost touch. Where requested, we will do research to locate these families and then let them know that their Brazilian relatives are visiting,” says Aschkar. According to him, this usually leads to get-togethers over lunch, and in a few minutes everyone’s acclimated. “It’s really cool,” he says.
These family reunion trips are called “I Love Lebanon.” “The defining features of our excursions are care and attention every step of the way, from the airport on,” says Luciano Aschkar. The trips to tourist spots include Portuguese-speaking guides.
Tours are slated for May 3-14 May and October 4-15, 2020. Both will include visits to the Jeita Grotto, a cave complex that was inhabited during the prehistoric age; the city of Harissa, home to attractions like St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon, and a gondola lift; and to Annaya, home to the monastery and tomb of Saint Charbel.
The travelers will also go to a millennial castle from the age of the Crusades, the ancient souk and the seaport in Byblos, a Roman archaeological site in Baalbek, and the shopping and food district along the Bardawni River in Zahlé, and other attractions and cities. In the capital Beirut, they will tour the local souk, St. George Orthodox Cathedral and the National Museum, among other sites. There’ll be two off days, one in the middle and one at the end of the trip.
The package includes pick-up at the Beirut airport, two-way shuttle, accommodation at the five-star Royal Tulip Achrafieh Hotel, guide service, local cuisine lunch on tour days, tickets for the sites, and advisory for tours of off days. Packages go for USD 2,780 (no air tickets) per person in a shared room, and USD 3,180 in an individual room. Another tour is due in October 2019, but all slots are taken.
Last year, while traveling with Líbano Tour alongside Beirut operations manager Júlia Ibrahim, Luciano Aschkar was welcomed by Lebanon’s minister of Tourism, Avedis Guidanian. According to Aschkar, the minister thanked him for the bringing people back to their roots.
Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum