FROM TEL AVIV TO MOUNT HERMON WITH A PRIVATE DRIVER
All tourists who visit Israel are frequently told, "If you find yourself in Israel in winter, you simply must visit the famous ski resort of Mount Hermon." The Israelis themselves have long chosen this place, and few Israelis have ever visited this, Israel's highest mountain, ideal for those who enjoy skiing, sledding, or snowboarding.
MOUNT HERMON HISTORY
The Hermon Mount has a height of 2800 meters and a length of more than 60 kilometers. Because the mountain is located in the far north of Israel, it has the lowest temperature and the most rainfall in the country. The Hermon ski resort, in the northern part of the Golan Heights, is popular with tourists and is always full. This is due to the excellent service, a wide range of entertainment, a well-developed infrastructure, the owners' hospitality, and an individual approach to each client. The mountain's base is easily accessible by car, after which you can take a shuttle bus to the ski lifts that will take you to the summit of Mount Hermon. The Hermon ski resort was founded in 1971, with the construction of the first funicular. There were few tourists in these places back then, so one funicular was sufficient for everyone. As recreation conditions and infrastructure improved over time, so did the number of skiing opportunities.
The magnificent Mount Hermon ski resort is open all year, except for a few hot summer months. Thousands of winter enthusiasts come here every day to enjoy the amazing trails, which total 50 kilometers in length. Climbing the funicular to the top, taking in the breathtaking view, and then sliding down with the breeze is an unearthly pleasure! There are plastic sleds and special routes for the little ones.
It doesn't matter if you don't know how to ski, there is an excellent ski school here. Professional instructors will teach you this kind of sports art pretty quickly! Alpine skiing beginners and experienced slalom skiers will find the use of their energy. The International Ski Association (F.I.S.) has recognized track No. 2 - Wadi Takharut as Olympic track, as well as track No. 3 - Wadi Khatul. Tourists can use the services of 11 funiculars and T-lifts, get ski lessons at the ski school, and purchase the necessary goods at the ski store. In addition to skiing, tourists are offered a lot of other entertainments, both for adults and children. Travelers who love thrills can ride an extreme mountain sled, children can go sledding from small slides, and the whole family can take a funicular ride to the highest point of the resort, from which a magnificent panorama opens up, the surrounding beauty is simply breathtaking ... Skiing, sledding, snowboarding, snowball battles, funicular riding, walking, in the evening - excellent cuisine in local restaurants and cafes, recreation in clubs and discos - all this and much more is offered to its visitors by the Hermon ski resort. Holidays in the ski resort of Hermon are a feeling of a holiday that does not end.
Mount Hermon is rich in natural and historical attractions. Unforgettable excursions in the surroundings will remain in your memory for a long time. Travelers should see the delightful Ram Lake, which was formed in the crater of an extinct volcano. Today carp are bred there, so anglers can enjoy their favorite hobby to their fullest. Only in this resort, you can admire the "Hermon oak". You will not see this tree again in any corner of the planet. Only in winter can you see a cascade of waterfalls on the Saar River, which flows between Mount Hermon and the Golan. In the summer heat, this river dries up. To the west, a picturesque gorge descends from Hermon, on the southern slope of which there is a fortress Nimrod (Kalaat Subeyba), which has survived to this day, erected by Muslims in the era of the Crusaders. The purpose of the fortress was to protect the road to Syria from the attacks of the crusaders. Moving along the gorge along the river bed, you can reach the tourist complex, Banias National Park. This is an amazing 3-hour walking trail, where travelers enjoy views of watermills, a waterfall, and if they are lucky, they may come across wild animals.
HIKING MOUNT HERMON
For mountaineers and hikers in Israel, there is an incredible number of amateur trails approved by the Israel Nature Protection Company and the Ministry of Tourism. There are especially many such trails in the north of Israel. The most famous trail - Shvil Israel (Israel Trail) - starts just at the foot of Mount Hermon and ends at the border with Egypt, near the coast of the Red Sea. It is divided into many sections and is thought out in such a way that it is possible to complete it as a whole, one section per day. The segments are designed so that each of them starts from a place where you can collect water, which will be enough until the beginning of the next. Each segment, of course, can be passed completely separately. In addition, there are difficulty levels - easy, medium, and hard, which indicate the degree of passability of the path. Easy - just a walk, medium - you will have to climb the rocks or cross a stream, or wade the river, Heavy - the same as the average, only there will be a lot of rocks, and they will be steep, so it is advisable to have a partner for a safety net.
You can learn about the difficulty of the trail in advance only from the reference book, but on the spot - not at all. The length of the routes varies but never exceeds a full day. In addition to Shvil Yisrael, there are other local trails, such as Shvil HaGolan (Golan Trail), or Shvil Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Trail). All of them are marked with certain colors, corresponding to the color on the map, along the entire trail - on stones, trees, and in general, wherever possible. At the beginning or end of each trial, there will be a sign explaining its level of difficulty.
WHAT TO DO ON THE GOLAN HEIGHTS EXCEPT FOR MOUNT HEMON?
Those tourists who travel by car are advised to go to Mount Bental. The ascent to this mountain can be carried out by car, along an asphalt road that leads to the observation deck to the IDF bunker at the top. You can, of course, go up on foot, along the trail marked in green (the Shwil ha-Golan mark, which leads there but does not wind so much). Going upstairs, you will find a cozy cafe called Cafe Anan (Cafe-Cloud). From the observation deck, the UN-controlled area between Israel and Syria is visible. After examining Mount Benthal, it is worth going down to the Benthal reservoir, following the continuation of the trail along which we climbed, in a northern direction. The Benthal reservoir is designed to collect rainwater, as well as water from small streams that previously flooded the fields. It is very pleasant to sit by the reservoir, especially in spring and winter weather. There are a lot of opportunities for those who like to photograph birds and all sorts of unusual insects, of which there are many.
GOLAN HEIGHTS KIBBUTZIM
Not far from all these beauties - Kibbutz Merom Golan, where especially for tourists - lovers of active hiking, at the Vaset intersection, in the grove, there is a place for sleeping in tents.
Another kibbutz in the same places is Lehavot-ha-Bashan (Flame of Bashan). "Bashan" is the name of the Golan Heights (or rather, the plains at these heights) among the Syrians. A path leads to it, barely noticeable, which departs from the dirt road to the left after 500 meters after the Orvim River.
Be sure to walk along the banks of the Jordan, that is, walk along the promenade that runs along the river, near the kibbutzim Sde Nehemia and Amir. There you can sit comfortably in the shade, swim, or simply dip your feet into the cool water of the Jordan, or have a picnic.
JORDAN RIVER KAYAKING
Another great attraction in Jordan River is kayaking. Experienced tourists are advised to go kayaking either in early spring or late autumn when the river is at its fullest and the water is not very cold. Especially famous for kayaking down the river are two places in Israel - Ha-Goshrim and Kfar Bloom.
Another short and pleasant walk in the north of the Golan Heights will lead us to a delightful oak grove, where an unusual natural phenomenon was discovered - a crater of tectonic origin. Admiring the breathtaking landscapes of Yaar Odem, we will find ourselves on the edge of an interesting natural formation - a foundation pit, in which beautiful orchids bloom in all shades of the rainbow in spring. You can see all this not far from the Odem settlement, and if you are fond of untrodden paths, be sure to walk along the "Black" trail, which starts right at the side of the highway behind the Odem village.
LARGE CRATER OR "JUBA"
The "black" path will lead us between the trees, among which the oak "worm" and ordinary, as well as medicinal styrax, prevail. I must say that Yaar Odem is the remnants of a forest that in the past covered most of the territory of the Golan Plateau. Today the forest stretches from 800 to 1200 meters above sea level. Yaar Odem is a forest of natural origin, not planted by man, although human efforts were also made to construct it. For closely adjacent trees to grow upward, Yaar Odem was thinned out by artificial cutting. After 500 meters, the black marking will lead us to the Big Crater (called "Juba" in the local dialect), on the edge of which we will find ourselves completely unexpectedly. Big Juba is not so big a crater, namely, one of 23 "Jub" found in this area. The diameter of our Juba is about 250 m, and its depth is about 60 m. Inside the crater, we will find dense growth, which has grown due to the presence of well-formed water resources obtained from a wide drainage area.
"Juba" makes a very impressive impression, so it is strongly recommended to go around it all along the perimeter. At the beginning of winter, crocuses (saffron) of various species bloom in the vicinity of the Crater. Those interested can also carefully descend to the bottom of the "Juba" and, then, climbing the opposite slope, complete the rest of its circle. Please note, however, that the ascent and descent are difficult.
The second highest mountain of the Golan Heights, Avital (1204 m), is located above the destroyed Syrian village of Quneitra. The name of the mountain comes from the Hebrew words "Avi" - father and "Tal" - dew because a lot of dew falls here. Until 1967, this place served as a training camp for Syrian terrorists and was called Tel Abu Nida. Now Avital is a nature reserve and a military base. An Israeli tracking station is now located on the mountain itself. Mount Avital is believed to have been one of the seven mountains on which bonfires were lit to transmit information from Jerusalem to Babylon in ancient times. Hence, its strategic importance is obvious. From the Israeli side over Quneitra - an observation platform on the Syrian side. On the left, you can see the spurs of Hermon, directly - the already uninhabited city of Quneitra. Also visible is the campus of the UN forces deployed here at the end of the Yom Kippur War, which changes every 12 months. On the right on the mountain are the wind turbines of the easternmost kibbutz in Israel. Not far from the highway to Quneitra is the volcanic mountain Chiffon, named for a beautiful flower. At the top of the mountain, there is a monument to 74 soldiers who died here during the Yom Kippur War.
When visiting one or another restaurant located in the vicinity of our trip, do not give up the Druze national sweets - Knafe (honey pie) and Baklava (pie with nuts and honey).