The Golan Heights is a prime example of the convuluted history of the middle east since ancient times up to the present. It is still part of Syria as no one recognizes the Annexation of Israel of the Golan Heights. The 1949 armistice line of Syria and Israel placed the border at 10 meters from the shoreline of eastern sea of galilee and the higher golan heights within syria but due to the constant clashes of both Nations, Israel Captured it during the 1967 war and Syria tried to get it back in the 1973 yom kippur war. At Present, The area is fenced and the border is closed except for some druze families coming over to and from the area.
The Golan Heights are very pretty, especially in spring when the land is still benefiting from the winter rain & snow melt. One Saturday we went on a lovely walk (acsent hike!) down the hills & valleys. We were dropped off at a higher level & met again once we reached a lower area, stopping for a picnic along the way.
You MUST stick to footpaths as it is believed there are still unexploded landmines up there.
The below website offers an insite in to some walks & tours in the Golan Heights & Galilee
If you want to enjoy the snow but you don't like to ski (or don't know how to) , you can still enjoy walking up the mountain like other people do.
A lot of people climb to see the view from the mountain or throw snow on each other ;-)
If you are a winter sport lover , you will find here snow for Ski or snowboarding.
Although it is not like European places like France or Austria or North America's Canada , but it is a nice place and the only place here in Israel for this kind of sport.
The Hermon mountain is the highest mountain in Israel and it is located on the northern area of Israel , as the area of the mountain is divided between Lebanon , Syria and Israel.
The height of the mountain is 2236 on the Israeli side.
A lot of people come here to enjoy the snow on the winter or see the view.
The Baniyas Nature Reserve is one of the most popular in the area. The Banias is one the 3 tributaries of the Jordan river. There are archeological remains there which are more than 2000 years old. There is the Greek temple of the god Pan and there is the Roman city Caesarea Philippi which was the capital of Philip the Tetrarch, son of King Herod.
The reserve offers some picnic areas and a beautiful hike along the stream all the way to the waterfall.
Mount Hermon is the highest in Israel and is home to the only ski resort here. So, if you visit on winter you might want to go for some ski. If you visit on spring you might want to come and enjoy the apple and cherry blossom surrounding the mountain. The area is beautiful all year long and is very popular. In fact, in the winter it's highly recommended not to come on a weekend and even on a weekday, you better sleep in the area and come early to the mountain.
More images of the mountain can be seen here.
The word Gamal is Hebrew for camel. The ancient city of Gamla waslocated on a steep hill shaped like a Camel's hump, whence the name Gamla. Apart from the ruins of the city, you can see here Israel's highest waterfall and the vultures and eagles the reserve is famous for.
To see more about this place, have a look at my Gamla page.
Hiking in Israel during the summer is not that easy. Most places are too hot for real hikes. So, most Israelis will look for places with water for the summer. One of the best places is the nothern-east corner of the Kinneret. There are two streams flowing into the lake in that area, Nachal Daliyot and Nachal Meshushim. These streams do all the way from the Golan heights to the lake. This is the perfect hike for summer. It's quite an easy walk, there are plenty of trees and shade and most of the walk is in the water. In some parts some swimming is required.
We had not gone there to ski, just to have a look, you can however hire all the equipment you would need if you had gone for a days skiing.
You can take the chairlift up to the top & there seemed to be more non skiers around than actual skiers when we were there!
We were very naughty & didn't pay to get in, instead we jumped over a fence in to what we thought was shallow snow, which fact came up to my middle! That will teach me (~_~)
Not too many people know this place. This is a very easy hike along this little canyon whic unlike the rest of the Golan heights is not black volcanic rock but quite sandy with beautiful stripes more common to the Negev area.
One of the nicest places in the Golan is El-Al stream. The hike is not that difficult and it offers magnificient views of the canyon and two waterfalls. The black waterfall, 8 metres high and white waterfall, 20 metres high. The names come from the different rocks the water falls from. One is black volcanic rock while the other is white limestone.
If you want to hike the entire route, you better have two cars, one to take you to the starting point in Avney Eitan and the other will wait on the end in Elley Ad. Of course, you can just go to first fall and back, or even go to the second fall and back. On hot summer days, you can cool in the little ponds at the bottom of the falls.
The route is marked with a red-white trail marking. The way down to the bottom of the white fall and back to the main trail is marked with blue-white marking. See Israel hiking trail markings for more details about hiking trails.
See more in the travelogue.
Damascus is only 30 miles from this point on the UN patroled boarder post. This is near an abandonded and near ruined Syrian town called Quneitra, which used to be the Syrian capital of the Muhafazat al Qunaytirah.
Not a lot here just the odd UN watchtower & car, plus views in Syria of course.
Nimrods Fortress is a 10th century Crusader castle. It is the largest and best preserved of all of Israel's Crusader Castles.
Apparently you could always see one castle from the other, which was obviously a great means of protection. It actually started off life being known as Subebe to the Arabs and L Asibebe to the crusaders. Over the next two waring centurys it changed hands on at least 4 occasions.
From the fourteenth to the 16th century it became a prison. After which time it fell in to disrepair and was used by local shepards for the animals, before becoming what it is today.
During the Six Day War it was initially used by the Syrians as an observation post and mortar position, and then by the Israelis. It remained amazingly undamaged.
Wonderful views are to be had, from the Fortress, over the Hula Valley to the south and Mount Hermon to the north. Well worth a visit. for more information visit my main Nimrods Castle page
Madjal Shams is a Druze village on the Syrian Israel border. Only a few kilometers from Mouth Hermon, it is a good stop for food or drink, before heading in to the ski resort. Madjal Shams translates in Arabic as the "Tower of the Rising Sun".
Although this is the largest town in the Golan, there is not actually much to see or do here, but experience visiting a Druze village. For more information, have a look at my main Madjal Shams page