Although the term “ecotourism” was launched in the 1980s, the concept was applied by villages in Lebanon before that. Like the village of Khenchara Al-Jwar, which used to welcome in the nineteenth century visitors seeking recovery in its mountainous climate and its fresh water renowned for its healing effect.
Ecotourism began developing in the village when locals started renting their houses to tourists, promoting the idea of guesthouses, until the civil war erupted. Amongst many initiatives happening to revive ecotourism in the region lately is the recently launched “Droubna”* project in Khenchara.
For those who know or don’t know Khenchara, Droubna is a great way to explore or rediscover this beautiful village through a trek that stretches over six kilometers and highlights the town’s most important landmarks.
Through its four trails, the sports, wine, pines, and water trails, the trajectory offers a chance not only to enjoy the nature of Khenchara but also its heritage, including:
The water wheat mill طاحونة القمح المائية
Beyt Al Lyal press معصرة بيت عيال
Ain al Smaydiyeh عين الصميدية
Beyt Al Lyal spring نبع بيت عيال
Abdallah Al Zakher printing press مطبعة الشماس عبد الله زاخر
John the Baptist Convent دير مار يوحنا الصابغ
It is worth noting that the history of Khenchara is strongly attached to the history of St. John Convent with the oldest of the latter’s three churches dating back to the 12th century. The convent played a vital role in boosting the village’s economy and education, leading to the establishment of many other churches and schools, as well as other convents in other Lebanese regions that followed in its wake. St. John convent is also home to the first Arabic printing press in the Middle East, where many old presses, machines, equipment, and related objects can still be found.
PS: “Khenchara” was named after the fern plant known in Arabic as “Khenchar” which grew abundantly in the village and was used to block away the sun
* The Droubna project is funded by the USAID and executed by Caritas Lebanon, the municipality of Khenchara Al-Jwar, in partnership with the Basilian Chouerite Sisters St. Georges College and the Scout of National Education – Khenchara Group.