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Golan Heights Nature Parks

It will be no surprise for visitors to the Golan heights to learn that the Golan Heights is a popular destination not just for tourists but for native Israelis too. People from all over the country and all over the world arrive at the Golan Heights in order to take in the beauty of the surroundings. Intermediary days of festivals such as Passover and Sukkot as well as the summer months are peak-season for this area with Israelis swarming in wanting to hike every nook and cranny of this area. Nature Parks are in abundance in this area with many water hikes to be enjoyed on one of the many hot days in the region.  Forests, mountains, pools, dormant volcanoes and incredible waterfalls are all waiting to be explored in this breath-takingly beautiful region of Israel.


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Displaying 1-15 of 18 results.



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The Nimrod Fortress National Park is a stunning site located on the slopes of Mount Hermon above the Banias Spring. Marvelous vistas can be enjoyed from every corner of the fortress.
The fortress was built in 1228 by the governor of Banias to block the passage of the army of Freidrich II who was threatening to march from Acre to Damascus. The fortress was added on to by the Mamluk Sultan Beibars, making it very large and impressive. Whilst touring the fortress one can see a monumental gate which has an inscription mentioning the construction done on the fortress in 1275. A stone bearing the image of a panther, which was Beibar's heraldic symbol, was discovered in 1998.
The length of the tour is about two hours, can be enjoyed year-round and the sunset from the Nimrod Fortress along with the secret passageway should not be missed.
 




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The Banias Waterfall is, without a doubt, the most impressive waterfall in the land of Israel. The Banias Spring comes out of the foot of Mount Hermon, flows for a powerful 3.5km and becomes the waterfall. The name of the site is due to the temple of Panias (Banias in Arabic), the remnants of which can be observed today in the five niches carved into the cliff wall near to the Banias cave, which one can reach via a stepped path. Additionally, there are remains of a Temple built by Herod the Great in front of the cave. The marked trail to the waterfall takes about ninety minutes and difficulty-wise the route is a slightly strenuous one. 150m into the trail one crosses the Govta Stream, which flows under a Roman bridge. 350m further along is the Officer's Pool where one can see Capoeta damascena fish. Plane trees, poplars and willows stand along the side of the stream and Mediterranean woodland species are found on the slopes. A beautiful trail at any time of the year. It is forbidden to enter the water anywhere in the reserve.




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Nahal Elal Reserve offers an inviting route that encompasses the Elal Stream, a perennial stream that has two famous waterfalls which have carved through the local basalt stone. The color of basaltic stone in the Golan heights is black and this is therefore the color of the first waterfall. The second waterfall is white due to the force of the water uncovering the white chalkstone. Each waterfall has its own pool- a tempting offer for a hiker on a hot summer's day… There are four options for this route- a short route, a medium-length route, the entire route and a ring-route of the entire route. How to get there: The route begins in Henyon HaMapalim near the religious Moshav of Avnei Eitan. It should be noted that on Saturdays and holidays access to Henyon HaMapalim is via a dirt path that bypasses the Moshav, so as not to offend the religious members by driving on the usual route which passes through the Moshav. The route is of medium difficulty and is about 4 kilometers long.

 




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The Mount Avital Nature Reserve contains Mount Avital (1204m) and Mount Bental (1165m), two craters of a single volcano. The peak of Mount Avital was the burial place of the Sheikh Abu Nida and according to local tradition, he was attributed with the ability of being able to cause rain. Today, the peak is home to an army base and access to the site is forbidden. Mount Bental has stunning views in every direction and rare wild flowers can be found in the nature reserve. The Coffee Anan Café can be found on top of Mount Bental- the highest café in Israel. Mount Bental also has an observation point from which Syria, Lebanon and northern Israel can be viewed. There is also an Israeli bunker open to visitors and an automatic explanation center in Hebrew and English. The Mount Avital Nature Reserve is suitable to visit all year round.




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Odem Forest in the Golan heights is a stunning encounter with nature with apple and cherry orchards, deer that wander around freely, breath-taking landscapes, refreshing water pools and think forests. Odem Forest is, in fact, the largest Nature Reserve in the Golan Heights region. Twenty-three craters of different sizes can be found on the nature reserve and this unique natural phenomenon is probably a result of volcanic activity. Another interesting site here is the Winds Gate- an archaeological site containing remnants from the Iron Age an up until the Byzantine period. Additionally, much to the delight of fairy-tale lovers, there is a wishing tree decorated with ribbons also on site. In the Deer Forest area, in the village of Odem, deer, ibexes and gazelles wander around.



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The Mount Hermon Nature Reserve is located in the northern Golan heights and was declared a nature reserve in 1974. Mount Hermon is the most northern and highest point in Israel and outside of the nature reserve is also found Israel's only ski resort. The reserve offers magnificent landscape, breathtaking views and ancient sites. The reserve is perfect to explore both in the winter, when the peak is capped with snow and in the summer when flowers, butterflies and wildlife fill the mountain. Due to the height of the mountain, the growth and blooming of vegetation begins at the top of the mountain already in August, instead of in spring. Birds that commonly be viewed in the reserve include the White-throated Robin, Western Rock Nuthatch, Sombre Tit and Northern Wheater. Additionally, many species of butterflies can be seen, including 23species that are unique to the Hermon Nature Reserve and don’t exist in the rest of Israel.



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The Yehudiya Forest Nature Reserve covers 16,500 acres in the central Golan heights, is shaped like a hand and each finger is a flowing stream. The forest itself in the reserve covers a third of the reserve with the most common tree being the large Mt. Tabor oak tree. Animals that can be found in the reserve are gazelles, wild boars, jackals, conies, Indian-crested porcupines and the Cairo spiny mouse. Raptors such as kestrels, short-toed eagles, Bonelli's eagles, Egyptian vultures, buzzards, Griffon vultures and a large variety of song birds can be seen in the skies above the nature reserve. The five main streams in the nature reserve are the Meshushim, Yehudiya, Daliyot, Zavitan and Gamla. Dozens of shallow tributaries make up these streams and magnificent basalt canyons and high waterfalls are created by the flow of the streams, ending in lagoons and wetlands. The streams are marked with a number of streams, varying in levels of difficulty. Make sure to stop by the information center on site in order to get the latest information on the condition of the trails in the reserve.



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Mount Hermonit, like many other mountains in the Golan heights, is an inactive volcano. At an impressive height of 1,210 meter above sea level, it is the second highest mountain in the Golan region. To the south of Mount Hermonit is the Vale of Tears, named so after the Yom Kippur War, famous for the difficult armored brigade battle that took place on it. There are impressive remnants of bunkers on Mount Hermonit as well as wonderful views of the Vale of Tears, the Hermon and the Golan Heights. For those searching for true silence, Mount Hermonit is the place to find it; far-removed from the craziness of daily life, it is the perfect place to revel in the total silence.



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Mount Pras is the eastern-most inactive volcano in the Golan heights. The Nature Reserve is found around the mountain. The mountain is 929 meters high and is a part of the line of volcanoes found in the area. An army base was set up on its peak and a quarry at the southerly edge of the mountain.




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Birkat Ram – or Ram Lake- is a large, natural reservoir that is located in the crater of a dormant volcano. The lake is round in shape and receives water from underground springs and rain water. According to the Talmud, Birkat Ram is one of the three underground springs, along with Hamat Gader in the southeastern Golan heights and Hamat Tiberias in Tiberias, that opened up in the Flood of Noah and didn't close up again after the flood. The lake is considered quite large by Israeli standards, is 600m long, 6-10 meters deep, is situated at 940 meters above sea level, on the shores of the incredible view of Mount Hermon. Apple, peach and pear trees grow in abundance around the lake and make for a particularly beautiful scene in spring.




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The Hazur Stream is four kilometers long and is found in the northern part of the Golan heights. It begins near to the Druze village of Majdal Shams by the burial site of Nabi Hazuri, where there is also a memorial site for the fallen soldiers of the Egoz Patrol and ends at the Nimrod Fortress. The stream is a tributary of the Govta Stream, which is one of the sources of the Banias Stream. Along the banks of the stream there is a thick Mediterranean grove, which includes oak, Terebinth, Judas trees and True Laurel. The end of the winter and the beginning of the spring sees strongly flowing waters and beautiful cascades. At the end of the summer and in the fall there are minor falls. Along the route there are the remains of a large gristmill and the exciting way passes between and on top of rock and inside shady tunnels that were created by the forest. In some places, you will need to hold on to branches in order to jump over rocky obstacles.



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Ein Pik is a family-friendly, two-kilometer route that passes between the ruins of Pik, fig tree thicket on either side of the stream and vegetation that is especially apparent in the spring and autumn months. A beautiful view of the Ein Gev Stream, the north-east of the Galilee Lake and up until the Lower Galilee. There are a number of gorgeous viewpoints throughout the trail and the trail finishes up south of the Afek Viewpoint. The majority of the trail is exposed, with not much shade.



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The Jilabun Stream is one of the most popular streams in the Golan heights. It flows for fifteen kilometers in the central Golan Heights. The nature reserve part of the stream is the dramatic canyon in the hard basalt rock, a truly beautiful sight. In the nature reserve there are several trails, of varying difficulties. There are two large waterfalls in the Jilabun Stream, one; the twenty-meter-high Dvora waterfall and the other, the Jilabun waterfall at the height of forty meters. At the foot of the waterfalls are delightful natural pools, surrounded by water flora. The Jilabun stream starts out at Kibbutz Ortal and joins together with the Jordan River by the Pkak Bridge. South of the Jilabun are deserted Syrian military outposts. The Jilabun Stream is located north of Katzrin. From Highway 90 turn eastward to the Mahanayim Junction. When you get to the Mishmar HaYarden Junction continue towards the Golan Heights, across the Bnot Ya'akov Bridge, climbing up Route 91. About a mile after the Nashot Junction there is a left turn towards a dirt road which is marked red. There will be signposts directing you to the stream. If you drive a couple of kilometers down the dirt road and turn right at the junction you'll arrive at the car park.



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In the Central Golan heights is the Gamla Nature Reserve. The Reserve is a wonderful combination of nature, landscape and historical remains. The number of raptors found there is unique in proportion to the small size of the reserve. The reserve also includes one of the world's most ancient synagogues. There is a cliff-edge observation station from which visitors can view Griffon vultures that nest in Gamla's cliffs in the largest colony in the country. There is another lookout in the 50 meter high Gamla waterfall; Israel's highest waterfall. There are huge, table-shaped stone burial monuments built some 4,000 years ago that can be seen on the way to the waterfall. There are a variety of trails in the reserve with some being suitable for families and others for more experienced hikers. Remains of the ancient city of Gamla are found at the foot of a steep trail, about twenty minutes from the observation point of the ruins. Gamla was a prosperous Jewish town in the time of the Second Temple and became famous for its battle against the Romans in the time of the Great Revolt in 67 CE. The ruins include a synagogue that pre-dates the destruction of the Second Temple, an aqueduct, a ritual bath and arrows and ballistae balls that attest to the battle that took place there.



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Nahal Meitzar is the largest riverbed that runs from the southern Golan heights to the Yarmuk Valley. Surrounded by Mediterranean and desert plants, green in the winter and flowers in the spring, it is the ideal place for a family hike. The riverbed begins about a kilometer from Kibbutz Meitzar, descends westward through mountains and soft rock before Wadi Barbara (Arabic for Noisy Riverbed) flows into it. Two kilometers later the upper border highway crosses through it. It is possible to continue for another half kilometer to the Nahal Meitzar waterfall. The riverbed continues for another four kilometers, carving in to the rock and forming shallow pools before flowing in to the Yarmuk river. How to get there: On road 98, turn left before Hamat Gader. You will pass the Kibbutzim Mevo Chama and Kfar Charuv. Four kilometers after the turning for Kfar Charuv, there is a junction that turns in to Kibbutz Meitzar. Turn right at the junction, keep going for about three kilometers, turn east (do not turn in to the Kibbutz) for a few hundred meters, turn right. Continue south for about five kilometers until you see signs for Nahal Meitzar.


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