BEIRUT: Within only three years of being founded, local outdoors sports team Moon Monkey has been reviving the love for nature within the hearts of thousands of outdoor activity enthusiasts.
Lebanon’s diverse natural topography calls for endless outdoor adventures, be it hiking, rock climbing, or camping, and Moon Monkey provides them all. Passion for nature is what inspired Lama Sawma, architect and mountain guide, and Edwin Bainou, rock-climber and multi-artist, to create an outdoor sports group that has become one of the most acknowledged ones in Lebanon.
The Moon Monkey team have rapidly grown to include designers such as Jad Youssef, Clara Chahine and Karl Wehbe; cinematographers and photographers such as François Chahine, Charbel Abi Semaan, and Fouad Aoun; logistics assistants Muriel Ferneini; and yoga and fitness trainers Eileizia Bainou and Raymond Bader.
Moon Monkey has been successfully sharing its genuine love for nature with almost 10,000 people from diverse ages and backgrounds through its various types of events and activities.
“Nature means a lot to us,” Sawma told Annahar. “It's home, yet an escape. A shelter, yet a risk. It's where we feel the most alive, and we translate our love for it through Moon Monkey,” she added.
According to founders Sawma and Bainou, the Moon Monkey project is aimed at reminding people of their first home, Mother Earth, and reconnecting them with nature.
“Moon Monkey encourages exploring the world and perhaps even reaching the moon!” Sawma said.
Currently, apart from the local hiking, camping, and rock-climbing events, the team organizes international trips to the Himalayas, mountaineering expeditions, and a yearly mountain festival “Equinox.”
They have already organized five expeditions in Nepal and are currently preparing three; two in Nepal this autumn, and another one in the Alps of France in winter.
“Around 40 amazing persons challenged themselves in the preceding Nepal expeditions,” Bainou told Annahar. “Every single person that joined us in the wilderness had their own mountain, challenge, as well as their own reason to be in the therapeutic outdoors,” he added.
As its founders told Annahar, Moon Monkey has pioneered the very first portaledge activity in the Middle East through the “skybench,” which represents camping in the air, only attached to a cliff.
Moon Monkey also embraces its principles of loving and living with nature through a plethora of environmental work, such as organizing fundraising events for local NGOs. The team also prides itself on participating in the Beach Clean-up Campaign that was organized by the Ministry of Environment in June.
For Jean Pierre Chemaly, “the adventure in the Himalayas with Moon Monkey was an experience of a lifetime, and no words are sufficient in describing the trip nor the team.”
Proving the therapeutic effect of nature, Nay Azar gives Moon Monkey credit for curing her mental disorder. She told Annahar: “With this professional team, I went from being a delusional, anxious person to a realistic, adventurous one who tried hiking, climbing, and even went on an expedition in Nepal to hike in a place with no signal."
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