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Come to Syria (& Lebanon) with me in November (100% serious!) – 4 new spots available!

Damascus old city, Syria
Damascus old city, Syria

Syria (and Lebanon) – November 16th to 22nd.

UPDATE: TRIP 1 WAS A SUCCESS, after 4 cancellations on trip 2 I have 4 last-minute spots available!

After our epic trip we to Iraq last September, with 16 people, it’s time for Round 2.  This time to Syria!

I know it sounds pretty crazy, but it’s not as mad as you think. Southern Syria and Damascus, in particular, is almost back to normal and it’s time for us to help support their message that their open for business.  That combined with the fact that Beirut is one of THE best cities in the world, and both Baalbek and Krak des chevaliers are 2 of the most significant archaeological sites in all of the middle-east means this trip ticks a lot of boxes.

Martyr Monument, Baghdad, Iraq
16 people with me in Baghdad, Iraq last September. Amazing people, amazing memories.

WHY GO TO SYRIA?

For people wanting to truly travel, to have a genuine adventure, to see parts of the world that haven’t been exposed to mass tourism, and to be one of the few (if not THE) only tourists in the country, then Syria is awaiting us. I never in my wildest dreams thought there were so many like-minded adventurers out there, but after putting together the Iraq trip, and so  many of you reaching out to me, and then meeting some amazing people I truly now subscribe to ‘Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe‘.

Syria is so historic, with both Damascus and Aleppo claiming to be the oldest cities in the world. With so much history it’s no wonder tourists are intrigued. Then with the turbulent recent history, and with it being so heavily featured in the news, I think you guys, like me, want to see for yourself what it’s like. Ignoring the mainstream media, get on ground level, and explore. So let’s do it.

As for Lebanon, well Lebanon is one of my favourite countries in the world, you guys will love it. Perhaps the number 1 cuisine in the world, a super fun capital city, ancient ruins, warm people – it’s honestly amazing. So Beirut and Baalbek will both blow your mind.

Beqqa Valley, Baalbek
Beqqa Valley, Baalbek

HOW MUCH?

$1950USD based on per person sharing*. Group travel is bringing the price down. After getting quoted an extortionate $7,000 for me and buddy for our Iraq trip, I realised that bringing other hard-core travellers means we can all meet cool people and not be so pricey (although still a chunk of money).

Personally, I wouldn’t want to fight with the visa issues alone, nor would I be overly comfortable freestyle backpacking in Syria just yet, so this is the perfect option for anyone who feels the same. If we have around 10 people going (and I have about 7 friends already confirmed) the price will be $1950USD. If I can get 18 crazy people together, then I can get the price down to $1850.

To confirm your spot, I would need a 15% non-refundable deposit so I can begin your invitation process. Then full payment would be required 60 days before departure. Cancellation more than 100 days before the trip is fully refundable, 99-60 days out, it’s 50%. After that, full payment would have been made to our fixers and operators.

*Single supplement available for additional $550

Almishtaya village
Almishtaya village

WHAT’S INCLUDED:

Hotels, guides, breakfast, all transport from when you land in Beirut on the 18th until when you leave Beirut again on the 24th. Dinner and lunches are on you but it’s pretty cheap.

WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED:

International airfare, visa fees (this can range from $70 to $200 depending on nationality, ouch!), dinners, lunches, tips, (beers?!) are all on you.

VISAS:

SYRIA: Our partners and fixers will officially invite us, give us the paperwork, and they’ll work out everything on the ground in Syria so you won’t even have to apply at an Embassy, everything will be awaiting us when we reach the Lebanon/Syria border. Pretty cool eh? The power of contacts!

NOTE: It’s a struggle for Americans to get visas to Syria, I’m currently working on it with our fixers, send me a message and we’ll see what we can do 🙂

LEBANON:  All nations get visa-free entry on arrival as long as they can provide accomodation bookings and onward travel, which you guys can.

SAFETY

Since May 2018, Damascus has remained fully under government control. While the north of Syria is still dangerous, and Raqqa and Aleppo both too dangerous to venture too, Damascus is in full flow once again. Tourism is picking up, even a few bars have opened, and the country is trying to let the world know it’s open for business. So let’s help them along, and be amongst the first people to go back.

HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE GOING?

I’ll have to limit it to 18 per trip. The visa is tricky, especially for Americans, but let’s fight that battle together. We’ll work on a first-come, first-served basis, then get the visa applications going. That can take 6 weeks or so, once we get those granted each, we’re confirmed! If rejected, we’ll go to the next people on the waiting list.

In terms of arriving in Beirut, I’ll be flying in from Jordan after my GiveBackGiveAway project there. I’ll set up a group facebook chat for all the crazy adventurers, where we are all talking about plans, so once we’re on board, I’ll add you to that and we can meet for a coffee or beer in the airport and fly in together. So yup, new friends, old history and an epic trip to tell the grandkids about, I honestly can’t wait!

 

WHAT ABOUT THE ITINERARY:

This is the schedule: (NOTE. This is subject to change of course, Syria is still Syria!)

DAY 1, November 16th: Land in Beirut, Lebanon

Beirut at night
Beirut at night

One of my favourite cities in the world, Beirut, Lebanon’s Capital. What used to be a city famous for conflict is now booming for the right reasons. World class food, happening night life, rooftop bars and shopping till you drop.  People will fly in and land at various times throughout the day, but we’ll reconvene in the hotel lobby for a group dinner, get to know each other, and maybe even time for a couple of cocktails before bed.

DAY 2 – Beirut to Damascus:

In the morning, we jump in our private transport and leave the city, heading towards Syria’s Capital, Damascus. The journey between the 2 capitals is less than 150km, via the legendary Beirut-Damascus road, but we factor in 4/5 hours for both crazy traffic in Beirut and Damascus, and also all the border formalities.

We aim to arrive in Damascus, check-in to our hotel around 2pm, then that afternoon we’ll have a guided stroll around the old town, picking up street food, stopping at old souqs. Dinner together and then overnight in Damascus.

Syria tourism
Welcome to Syria

DAY 3 – Damascus:

Time to explore Damascus properly! Our guides will explain all about the political situation, about ISIS in the north, about the hardships the Syrian people have felt in the last 10 years, and you’ll also hear how happy people are to know that foreigners, and even tourists, are beginning to return.

Highlights today will include the charming Hamedieh Souq, Ummayad Mosque, Azem Palace, Hanania Church and the National museum. Dinner and overnight in Damascus.

Damascus Downtown
Damascus Downtown

DAY 4 – Almishtaya and Krak des Chevaliers:

A real highlight today. We leave Damascus behind and make our way towards Homs province, home to the most famous Crusader castle in Syria and one of the most important preserved medieval castles in the world. Krak Des Chevaliers, a UNESCO world heritage site, has been standing since the thirteenth century and is greatest fortress built by European crusaders in Syria and Palestine

After being wowed there, we drive to Almishtaya village in the Valley of the Christians. After lunch we’ll wander around Almishtaya with a village tour and chill-out in the late afternoon. Overnight in Almishtaya.

Krak des Chevaliers
Krak des Chevaliers

DAY 5 – Baalbek, Lebanon

Early brekkie, and then transfer back to Damascus for a coffee, before we make our way back and onwards to Lebanon. After border formalities, we will head to the historical city (and Hezbollah-stronghold of Baalbek), where we’ll tour the ancient Roman ruins. Baalbek is the most spectacular archaeological site in Lebanon, portions of it date back to 1AD!

Afternoon and evening, we’ll explore the bustling new city and overnight in Baalbek.

Baalbek, Lebanon
Baalbek, Lebanon

DAY 6 – Back to Beirut

Wake up in Baalbek and hop in our private transfer after breakfast to transfer to Beirut. Once we check into our hotel, we have a full Beirut city tour – while most tours drag you from museum to museum but we’ll focus on a mix of history, politics, lifestyle. Overnight in Beirut, so for anyone with any energy left, lets go and explore that Beirut nightlife.

Beirut city view
Beirut city view

Day 7- We’re Outta Here!

Wake up, and leave. I’m off to Ethiopia for my GiveBack GiveAway foundation, where we’ll build a water-well for a community, then explore East Africa’s most adventurous country. We just released that last week and it’s over half sold out already, eeeek. If you want to join, you can read about that here.

THOUGHTS

I visited Syria once before, back in 2010. Just before the war broke out and the country all-but fell apart. It’s been heartbreaking to watch from the sidelines, but now with Damascus solidifying itself, I’m super excited to get back and see how their recovering is going. Adventure tourism is the first wave of tourism returning to one of the friendliest nations on earth, and I’m proud we’re all going to be part of that.

If you want to come, please email me on johnny@onestep4ward.com with any questions, with a photo of your passport.

Finally, this isn’t a standard G Adventure/tour company trip. I don’t know what to expect as much as you guys. This is as real as travel gets, so lets expect stuff to be a little rough around the edges, perhaps even a little disorganised, but it’ll be the adventure of a lifetime. See you in Beirut, and then Damascus!

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13 thoughts on “Come Travel with me to Syria (& Lebanon) in November (100% serious!)

  1. Good luck on your trip! I’m sure you’ll have fun, That’s what most people tell me anyway. Living here i haven’t noticed many foreigners and I’ve always been a fan of other cultures so whenever i see one or a group i have that urge to spark a conversation and sometimes i would and we would talk on and on how they thought Syria was something it wasn’t and that they were glad the visited, A whole lot has changed since 2010 so you’ll come and notice a lot of new things all around haha

  2. Traditional Germany cuisine stands on three pillars – sausages, sauerkraut, and beer. Sausages and wieners are a subject of national pride; cabbage in German cuisine is the head for everything; the beer is so tasty that tourists from all over the world come to the Oktoberfest annual beer festival.

  3. Hi Johnny,
    The mention of Syria evokes (bad) memories for many people, yet it has beautiful views and scenic memories to behold. The photos of Damascus attests to this. Plus, you get to know more about ISIS and all. I love the rocky features of this country and would love to visit one day, fears notwithstanding!

  4. This is just what I needed. I have been in China for the past two years and I really feel that desire to move back to the U.S. The main gig you get in China is teaching. I love the kiddos but I want to explore different opportunities in the education/social justice field. There is so much great work that can be done back home. I feel like I want to be part of it again! Especially now with what is going on with the country politically. I am pretty nervous but I think it is worth a shot. Also the great thing about expat life is that you can always go back to it! Check my travel site https://www.mygration.com.au/ if you are going to Australia.

  5. Sounds like a great trip you have planned and will be looking to get involved in one of these trips in the future. Right now I have 2019 put aside for travelling South America and volunteering along the way. I run a travel blog https://aussieinwanderlust.com/ so please take a look and follow along. Hopefully, we catch up on either of our crazy adventures soon. Cheers

  6. Your Oct.2019 trip to Syria & Lebanon seems interesting, but I have a few questions to aid me in my comfort level.
    1. Can I assume your “nonrefundable” deposit would in fact be refundable if I cannot get an invitation and/or visa to these countries? Incidentally I am a U.S. citizen.
    2. What hotels would the group be staying at?
    3. To plan my flights, what time does the group meet at the beginning and end of the trip?
    4. What is the situation re transport to/from the airport in Beirut?
    5. I plan to travel without my wife or other companion. Is there an extra charge to have a private room?
    6. I do not use Facebook, and instead of participating in a group chat, I am comfortable with emails. Will that pose a problem? I also do not travel with a phone; yet I take my laptop all over the world with me without an incident (even to the DPRK).

    These are a few of my concerns that come to the to of my head after traveling to several dozen countries.
    Thanks,
    Larry

    1. Hey Larry!

      Sure:
      1) Yes, correct. If it’s not possible, the only non-refundable portion would be the issue of the letter etc, so whatever the fixers charge me. It wouldn’t exceed $50 I wouldn’t imagine.
      2) Hotels aren’t booked yet, but I run multiple trips per year and they’re always 3*ish, aircon, wifi, often a pool, breakfast included. Nothing luxurious, but not budget either. Clean, acceptable, comfortable.
      3) Any time on the 18th is fine, any time on 24th is fine
      4) Working on airport transfers at the moment. Worst case scenario is uber, which is pretty simple!
      5) Yes, $550 for single supplement or i can pair you with another single traveler of the same gender.
      6) That’s fine, no probs at all 🙂

      Thanks mate,

      Johnny

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