The Uniqueness of Israel
Amazing Things to See in the Golan Heights
During your gap year in Israel, you are certain to travel to the Golan Heights at least once. It is an amazing area of natural beauty with many stunning hikes and a fair amount of history to see as well.
When you need to cool off, the Banias Waterfall is the perfect place to visit. The river and waterfall are fed by melting snow from Mount Hermon, so it is the perfect way to refresh yourself after hiking one of the nearby trails that take you to see Roman and Crusader remains. The site is of significance to Christians as it is thought that Jesus sat there with his disciples.
For a combination of beautiful views and interesting history, you can head to Mount Bental. The mountain is actually one of two craters left by an extinct volcano and thanks to its height of 1,171 metres above sea level, it affords amazing views right into Syria. The site used to a be a military base and you can explore some of the old bunkers and learn a bit about the conflict and military battles that took place in the area.
Diving a bit further back into history is the Nimrod Fortress, a medieval site that is on the lower slopes of Mount Hermon. There has recently been a great deal of restoration work carried out and now it is possible to gain a fascinating insight into what the fortress was like when it was first built in the early thirteenth century. In addition, there are some fantastic trails around and it is a wonderful way to spend a morning or afternoon.
While you are unlikely to think of Israel as a place for winter sports, you can in fact enjoy some skiing or snowboarding on Mount Hermon, particularly during the winter. The area can get very busy as Israelis flock to enjoy the 28 miles of ski slopes; there are even two Olympic standard runs. Even if you don’t want to ski, there are still some fantastic views.
Another fantastic area to explore is the Gamla National Park. There are some beautiful trails and amazing history to discover. It is the location of an ancient Jewish city that similar to Masada, was besieged by the Romans causing the inhabitants to commit mass suicide. You can visit the ruins by walking up a path and you can also hike to Israel’s highest waterfall (51 metres). Along the way, you will spot a number of dolmans and you may also see some vultures as the nature reserve is home to about 80 of the birds.
For some more recent history, be sure to stop by El Rom Kibbutz. The kibbutz was destroyed by a tank battle during the Yom Kippur War. However, it was quickly rebuilt and now visitors are able to watch a documentary about the battle and how Israeli forces managed to overcome the Syrians.
There is far more to do on the Golan. You can visit the famous winery, go fruit picking, and discover even more nature reserves and historical sites. While spending you year in Israel, make sure that you don’t neglect this stunning northern area.