The Golan Heights Israel (Ramat Hagolan in Hebrew) straddles the border of Syria and Israel in the North. Starting at the eastern edge of the Kinneret at an elevation below sea level, Ramat HaGolan continues north to the Mount Hermon peaking at over 9000 feet above sea level. The topography of the area is characterized with mountainous terrain, numerous streams, waterfalls, and breathtaking scenery. Some say (myself included) that the area is reminiscent of parts of California or Colorado in the States.
Ramat Hagolan is not only a beautiful place, but one that holds a strategic significance for Israel with respect to both water and security. In its stormy history, the area has been the site of some of the fiercest tank battles between Israel and Syria and remains a disputed region to this day.
Interesting Fact – The Golan provides about 15% of Israel’s total water supply, supplying much of Israel’s agricultural production and especially some of the country’s best wines.
Top Attractions in the Golan Heights Israel
Must See in the Golan:
- Hidden waterfalls in the area including the Gamla, Sa’ar, and the Banias streams.
- Mount Hermon, the northernmost point of the Golan Heights. Ski in the Winter and enjoy breathtaking panoramic views in the summer with a cable car ride. (reminds me a lot of Western Colorado)
- Nimrod Fortress is located on a steep mountain ridge in the northern Golan with ravines on both sides and an spectacular view. The fortress was built around the 13th century by Muslims to defend against a possible Crusader attack. From the edge of the fortress, there is a trail leading several miles to the Banias (see next below).
- Banias hiking trails and streams – An archeological site and national park with many walking trails located at the foot of Mt. Hermon. Interestingly, the Banias was named after the Greek good time god Pan (or Panias). In Arabic, there is no sound for P, so over time the stream became known as the Banias.
- The Shouting Hill near Majdal Shams – If you have ever seen the movie ‘The Syrian Bride’ you can appreciate the ‘Shouting Hill’. The local Druze villagers of this area were divided literally after the 1967 six day war. They can actually see and shout at their relatives across the border in Syria from this vantage point.
- Yehudiya Forest Nature Reserve – Try this for amazing hikes through natural pools. Recommended for the more adventuresome and athletic crowd.
- Hula Valley Nature Reserve – The Golan Heights overlooks this amazing nature reserve. Famous for being a resting place for migrating birds.
- Best Guided tours and attractions – Hot air balloon rides, jeep tours, hiking and more.
- Top place to eat – The ‘Witch and the Milkman’ restaurant located high over the village of Nimrod; we found this unique eatery by accident. From the outside it looks like a simple wooden lodge with amazing views. As you enter, the interior is tastefully decorated and quite unique. The featured items are homemade casseroles served in Iron pots and it is very tasty and fresh. Phone: 04-6870049.
Great place to stay – The Ha’goshrim Kibbutz and Resort Hotel. I stayed there in 2010 and the accommodations were quite comfortable and the food was excellent. It is situated directly on a site with natural springs and a nature reserve. Even more, there is access to family friendly white water rafting down the Jordan River and it is really an exhilarating experience. See more Galilee Hotels.
A Word of Caution: The Golan Heights Israel is one of the world’s largest military barriers, and as such caution must be taken while hiking in this area. Hard to believe but a large part of the Golan is still heavily mined or suspected as being so. Therefore you must stay only in designated marked hiking trails and never walk or drive off main roads or open unmarked fields.
As with most travel in Israel, The spring is the optimal time to visit as the ground is lush with wildflowers and the temperatures are a comfortable 70-75 Degrees F.r rafting down the Jordan River and it is really an exhilarating experience.
Enjoy the Golan Heights