Yehudiya Nature Reserve on the Golan Heights
Just recently my family and some friends went rappelling on the Golan Heights at the Yehudiya Nature Reserve on a trail known as the Black Ravine (in hebrew ‘Nakik Hashachor’), so called as it is a dark, narrow ravine that gets little sun. It was an absolutely amazing day.
Who can do this trail?
Minimum age is 8 years old, you should be an experienced hiker and of course you have to know how to swim. But prior rappelling experience is not necessary as this is a faily tame trail and the guide will explain how to rappell.
The Black Ravine on the Golan Heights
Considered one of northern Israel’s most beautiful trails, the Black Ravine is situated in the Zavitan valley stream on the Golan Heights and it connects the upper part of the stream to the lower end of the stream. The ravine is closed thoughout the winter due to the dangers of rain and mudslides and is not open to hikers on foot at all, as the only way down is by rappelling the waterfalls.
The high temperatures of August required that we get up early in order to be ready to start walking by 07:30-08:00. We set off at 05:30 in the morning for a one half hour drive to the Golan Heights, seeing the beautiful sunrise on the way and met our licensed guide Avner in the car park of the trail by 07:00.
Once there our licensed guide Avner kitted us all out with the rappeling equipment. Each person carried his own hard hat and harness, and between us we carried the rappelling ropes. On our backs we carried at least 3 litres of water each and some snacks such as fruit and energy bars.
Remember that our bags are going to get wet so soggy sandwiches are not a good idea!
The first part of the trek from the car park to the beginning of the stream is about 20 minutes at an easy pace. We reached a view point which overlooks the upper Zavitan waterfall, a great place for our first water break and a photo opportunity with the waterfall in the background.
We then headed down to the river bed for about an hours’ walk along the river through fruit trees, shrubs and water. The scenery is beautiful and as the sun gets hotter the shade of the trees is much appreciated.
Taking the Plunge – Rappelling in the Golan Heights
The first waterfall that we arrive at can be rappelled down but the waterfall itself is not too high (3 meters) so jumping from it is pretty easy. Standing on the rock edge at first is quite nerve racking but under the countdown of those around you the jump is not so bad. The loud thump on entering the water is a little scary but the refreshing cold (but not too cold) water is exhilarating after an hours’ walk.
The atmosphere was amazing while we waited for everybody to jump, lots of laughter and teasing, and another great pool to swim in next to the jumping pool. We were in no hurry so we hung around there for a while until we saw another party arrive.
Rappelling in the Golan Heights – 2 High Waterfalls to Rappell
After the first waterfall that we jumped there are two much higher waterfalls (second is 30 meters and third is 25 meters) that we rappelled down. It is not necessay to have prior experience but it is crucial that you listen to your guide and do as he tells you. At the end of both waterfalls the rappelling ends up in a waterpool which is amazing. Coming down the rope surrounded by the basalt rock formations is awesome.
As you can see a waterproof camera is necessary, I used our GoPro to take video, but even a mobile phone with a camera in a good waterproof case is great. Still the pictures don’t do it justice, it is really beautiful.
Even when you start the trail early in the morning it takes a good part of the day to finish the rappelling. This is because you wont be alone on the trail and sometimes there are hold ups at the descending points. It is possible for 2-3 people from different groups with other guides to rappell at the same time but still it causes a bottle neck. My suggestion is to be layed back and enjoy the pools and the company, eventually everybody will get down.
After the last waterfall and pool which is 45 meters in length there is about an hour and half hike out of the ravine. Take your time, rest often and drink lots of water. It is tiring but you’ll get there eventually.
Top Tips and Recommendations
- Set your GPS or Waze to Yehudiya Nature Reserve Parking Lot – Chanyon Yehudiya
- There is a fee to pay on entry to the nature reserve as well as the fee for your private guide.
- Leave early and start early (especially in the hotter summer months (May-October)
- DO NOT enter this trail without a licensed rappelling instructor
- Sun Protection – hat, sunglasses, sunscreen
- Light loose comfortable clothing (Jeans not recommended) with bathing suit below
- Plenty of water- 3-4 Liters or 1.5 gallon per person
- Hiking Shoes – Comfortable shoes with a closed toe (no sandals or flip flops)
- Food – I recommend something light – fruit and energy bars (waterproof packaging)
- Lightweight hiking backpack to carry everything
- Our guide Avner carries a specific insurance only available to licensed guides called HaCashra.
Rappelling in the Golan Heights and other Adventure Tours.
If you enjoyed the Rappeling in the Golan Heights then I’m sure you’ll enjoy Rappelling at Qumran caves near the Dead Sea. For more Adventure tours in Israel, I recommend Jeep tours with my friend Atar, Hot Air Ballooning, Road or Trail Riding, and much much more. Our friend and licensed guides Avner and Atar specialize in these type of trips for the adventure seeking crowd.