Travel

Recreation, Tours, Country and city

Captivating Golan Heights, Israel

Posted by: 2013-09-18

Falls

Look behind the policy in a disputed area

Much like Kashmir or Iran, the Golan Heights have the dubious honor of appearing more often on newspapers front pages than in their travel sections . Since Israel captured the Golan Heights in the Six -Day War in 1967 , in this region , which stretches from the Sea of ​​Galilee in the south to Mount Hermon in the north , is one of the world's most controversial pieces of political real estate .

It is also one of the world 's hidden treasures . The Golan 1,200 square kilometers harbor a treasure of lush fields and sky -scraping volcanic landscape , the fate of which forms the crux of one of the world 's most notorious geopolitical disputes. Access a visit to the Golan Heights grants travelers to the natural and human worlds behind the headlines , challenging minds with a ground-level perspective of the machinery of conflict and resolution .

The Golan Heights, which take their name from one of the six biblical cities of refuge boast some of the most diverse and fertile farmland in the Middle East. The Golan collection microclimate and several rivers provide Israel with nearly 16 % of its fresh water and allow farmers to grow a wide range of plants. In particular, the plateau is famous as an extraordinary wine country Israel , produces award winning Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in a country the proverbial bad vintages .

The extreme Golan in the north is more robust , since the agricultural fields of the South the way for the volcanic highlands of the Anti- Lebanon range. For outdoor enthusiasts , the region's past can get notoriety, the northern Golan offers year-round opportunities for recreation. The Avital - Bental Nature Reserve , a national park between the slopes of the extinct volcano just two miles from the border , are a hotspot for hikers.

In the warmer months , visitors have to reserve the possibility of a water taxi hike along the Gilabun River, a seasonal river and tributary of the Jordan River , the mountain slope flows through forests, under thick canopies of underbrush and along steep basalt and limestone cliffs before finally cascade down the side of a gorge in a spectacular 120 -foot waterfall . The pool at the bottom of the falls is a popular swimming spot , and although almost uncomfortably cold, is a refreshing diversion after a long hike through the heat.

On the mountain. Bental the top, the Golan Regional Council Visitor Centre offers an Israeli perspective on the Golan story , complete with a reconstructed bunker Israeli Defense Forces , the required sign lists the distances to various capitals and a peak Café Coffee Annan called . From the hilltop vantage point , visitors can absorb a panoramic view of the Israeli border , where the green of vineyards nearby and blatantly suddenly gives way to the UN - managed demilitarized zone.

In winter, tourists flock to the northern Golan to visit Mt . Hermon , the highest peak of the region . Located at the intersection of the Israeli , Syrian and Lebanese borders , Mt . Hermon the southern slopes are home to Israel's only ski resort . In terms of difficulty , Mt . Hermon, the slopes are often the ones compared in New England with eight lifts and a dozen or so runs , skiing is fun , but not too much of a challenge for experienced riders.

In terms of accommodation , visitors can choose from a range of on-site and guest houses in the area, select a balance of well-appointed cabins to luxury suites with jacuzzi in room . Beginners can take lessons in Mt . Hermon ski school and the resort offers equipment for those who prefer not to carry around their own .

A trek through the Golan does involve some unique safety considerations , the most obvious of which are landmines . The Israeli- Syrian border, is one of the most heavily mined on the planet Earth , and with Israel and Syria, not yet officially at peace , disposal efforts were at best minimal. Minefields , both marked and unmarked , line many streets and roads , so it is extremely important for visitors to stay on established routes.

Other memories of tenuous grip of the Golan Heights ' on peace confront visitors at every turn . Trails wind past the crumbling foundation of the Syrian bunkers and gun emplacements during the Six - Day War destroyed. Today, the region is heavily militarized , even by Israeli standards , the IDF has active bases and firing ranges throughout the region and maintains reconnaissance stations on many of the high peaks on the border . Tours and classes departure for the northern Golan often hire one or more armed guards to walk along with them .

What is surprising how easy it is to get used to everything. First, the parades of military transports and ominous warning signs are more than a bit distracted and can leave visitors from less heavily armed countries nervous. A day or two is usually all it takes to fall in the Golan rhythm and let the striking military armament in the background.