Jun 092014

Not that I’m seriously considering it any time soon (or am I) but one of the biggest gaps and challenges to my plan to finish all countries in a little over two years is Lebanon (easy) and Syria (very not easy.)

Ideally, of course, I’d prefer to do them together since Beirut and Damascus are relatively close, but this opens up lots of questions:

1) What’s the visa situation? Are Syrian embassies still open, and if they are, are they even issuing visas?

2) According to this map, the road from Beirut to Damascus appears to be solidly in government hands (assuming your driver knows which roads to take) and would be feasible. But, are taxis still running this route? Could I even find one willing in Beirut?

3) Once in Damascus, are their still safe areas? Possible to spend a night, or would this be a daytrip type of thing from Beirut?

4) What direction are the winds blowing? From media reports, Assad appears to be gaining the upper hand again, so it would appear things might get safer, at least in Damascus, over coming months?

5) Is there a “safe and easy” option? A relatively safe area that would be easy to daytrip over from Lebanon or Turkey? A border I could cross with a town on the other side, spend a couple of hours, and go back? The Jordanian border seems to border rebel-held areas, so that looks out of the question. Maybe west from Mosul (which I think is safe from Erbil these days?) into what appear to be “safe” Kurdish held areas like Al-Yarubiyah? Who controls the border here? Visa situation?

6) Latakia sounds to be completely (a relative term) safe these days, but is there any way to get there? From Turkey? The border at Kesab (based on the map above) appears in rebel hands?

Any thoughts?

  8 Responses to “Syria”

  1. Such a shame the situation in Syria. I travelled there independently in 2007 to Damascus and overland into Lebanon (Balbek) without any troubles at all. It really is/was quite beautiful. Seems it would be much more challenging today. I’d check over at Lonely Planet’s Thorntree boards since they have lots of updated travels from independent travellers: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/forums/middle-east/syria

  2. See here: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g294005-i2872-k6997495-Taxi_from_Beirut_to_Damascus-Beirut.html

    taxi is your best bet. Go to the border without a visa, then turn around and head back when they don’t let you in? 🙂

  3. Well the Syrian government wants to make a push to revive tourism: http://www.travelweekly.com/Middle-East-Africa-Travel/With-ill-timed-effort-Syria-casts-light-on-tourism-woes/.

    I am looking for a safe, feasible way to get in, have a day in Lebanon booked in Oct and would like to get Syria done as well.

  4. Wow, looking forward to this trip report:)!

    Seriously, I think it may be worth leaving this one for a bit. The fact that you were comtemplating visiting (now under ISIS control) Mosul, really highlights the risk and danger in this part of the world right now.

  5. I was in Lebanon three weeks ago, Baalbek really is quite impressive. I paid $150 for a private taxi for the day from Beirut, which was probably too much. I think we got within ten miles or so of the Syrian border, but I never thought of trying to go across, I don’t think they are issuing visas these days anyway. I plan to just keep working on the other countries, and I hope Syria will clear up by the time I figure out how to go to Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, Central African Republic, etc.

  6. Article on British Muslims crossing via Turkey to the town of Ad Dana (near Aleppo).

    “…an area largely controlled by the Islamic Front (a newly formed merger of other rebel groups). Isis was driven out of the area earlier in the year.”


    Looks like no need for a visa anyway:).

  7. Syria was on my list back in 2010 as my friend noted that “tourism was making a comeback here” after many years of internal strife. Blew my money on a condo instead, and never made it to Syria. Had I only knew what 2011 had in store (i.e. Arab Spring), then I would have done whatever it took to get to Syria! Oh, well. Guess I will have to wait for awhile until the situation resolves itself!

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