Type of Hike:
Upper Galilee at base of Mt. Hermon
Easy to Moderate depend on trail choice
All year round
Family – kids 5+
Half – All day depending on starting location.
Winter: Sun – Sat: 8am-4pm, Friday: 8am-3pm
Summer: Sun – Sat: 8am-5pm, Friday: 8am-4pm
If spectacular natural views, endless biking and hiking paths, and by far the most amazing bird spotting you may ever witness sound interesting to you….
Then, Emek Hahula or the Hula Valley is a “must see” and experience on your next trip to Israel or the north. Located in beautiful northern Israel between the steep slopes of the Golan Heights to the East and the Naftali mountains of the Upper Galilee to the west, this truly magical spot has been a migration route for millions of birds from Europe to Africa and Asia for thousands of years.
I have been there with my family a few times and it is my pleasure to share my story and pictures…
Originally covered by a lake surrounded by malaria infested swamps, the Hula valley has experienced an entire metamorphosis over the past 60 plus years.
In the 1950s, a huge project was undertaken to drain the swamps but leave the central lake intact known as Hula Lake. The area became a nationally recognized nature reserve where native fauna and flora could survive and flourish.
Portions of the valley became flooded as a result of heavy rains in the early 1990s and as a result it was decided to develop the surrounding area and leave the flooded area alone.
Agamon Hahula was born and became the attraction that we enjoy today. Thousands of migrating birds can be seen mostly in the Fall and Spring as well as native birds and fauna year round.
There is a nicely paved biking and walking path, observation areas, as well as telescopes for observing the native flora and fauna that make Hahula their year round home.
My strong recommendation is to take the guided tours (English is an option) that offer fascinating explanations about the history and indigenous plants and animals of the area. The guides are really very professional and informative.
Another recommendation is the visitor center featuring movies which tell about life in the area 50 years ago.
We rented tandem bikes for the family. I can’t tell you how many times my daughters said “you’re not pedaling”. It was hilarious, but a great way to take in the sights and get a nice workout at the same time. You can rent single-person bikes or bring your own bikes if you prefer.
The entire path is 8.50 km (5.28 mi) long and flat. This, of course, conjured up quite an appetite.
Food, my favorite subject – We brought a picnic with us in our backpacks and sat on benches to eat lunch and take a break.
If biking or walking does not interest you there are a few other options:
- Rent a golf cart for up to six passengers. They even have one for 16 called the Amonit but you will need to reserve ahead.
- The Safari Wagon allowing an extra-close observation of birds and other animals in their natural habitat.
This a fantastic area in a somewhat remote area so come prepared:
- Search HaHula Reserve (החולה) for your Waze or GPS
- Hiking or comfortable shoes or sandals – You will be on your feet all day.
- Guide – Definitely take advantage of the knowledgeable and experienced guides at the visitor center. They really know everything about the area and are very passionate about it.
- Water – Minimum 1-2 Liters per person or 1 Gallon. My wife took a 1 liter bottle and ran out. Good thing we had more for her. I used my Camelback and it was perfect.
- Sun Hat /Sun Screen– Most areas are not shaded
- Food – Sorry no McDonalds along the way and you will get hungry. There is a snack bar in the visitors center that serves sandwiches, snacks, ice-cream and drinks.
- Sunglasses or Eyeglass holders to keep them on your head.
One closing piece of advice: Try to avoid driving south on Saturday nights as the traffic can be severe as people often take trips to the north over the weekends.