For my first weekend in Israel, Josh and I headed up to the Golan Heights. Geographically the region borders Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan and the area is controlled by Israel but as you can see by the image of Google Maps below it is a bit complicated, our car is the blue arrow. Despite this it is very safe and there are very amazing things to visit from the Sea of Galilee (think Jesus walking on water) to old fortresses from antiquity.
The Golan Heights is fairly arid (well really Israel in general) and we were surprised to learn that there are quite a few hikes to some amazing swimming holes. A friend we met told us about one in particular to Nahal Elal. So on Sunday… shoot Saturday morning (FYI the work week here is Sunday to Thursday and the weekend is Friday and Saturday – so confusing) we headed north from Tel Aviv to check it out. We were aided by this very helpful resource that lists hundreds of hikes in Israel – very useful. We have a lot of places to see. About 5 minutes before we arrived, I reread the description for the trailhead and it said this “Being a religious Moshav, you can enter with your car to the camping and descend to the red-marked trail during weekdays but not on Saturdays and holidays.” SHNIKIES! And then when we got there we found this…
Very inviting! We debated walking through the religious community (we later found out that it would be NBD) but we found a dirt road that bypassed the community. Nothing like off-roading a rental car! In short order we began our hike down. As we hiked down I was struck by how similar it was to Southern California where I grew up. If you dropped me there it would have felt like my parent’s house in Thousand Oaks.
The trail was pretty easy to follow and had better signage than some of the ones we traveled in Norway.
We randomly ran into this fella too…
We were curious when we would run into the waterfall and soon we came across a large drop off. At this point I learned that 1) Josh has no fear of heights as he got close to the edge and 2) He loves to cliff jump. Needless to say my inner “Mom” got the best of me as I told him that perhaps we should check it out from the bottom first.
From the bottom the waterfall was very pretty with the contrasting colors and what looked like some travertine formations.
The water was quite cold but it was quite refreshing to jump in and swim around a bit.
Overall it was a very nice outing and we are excited to explore the area more over the next year. Also, on the way home we could not resist getting this fella.
Did I mention I love McFlurries! I was pleased to discover that Josh loves them as much as I do. We just wish they were bigger.