RESERVES OF UPPER GALILEE - DAN AND THE VALLEY OF HULA
Upper Galilee is one of the most beautiful places in Israel to visit with a private driver, without a tour guide. No wonder, there are so many things that attract tourists. In the tourism center of Upper Galilee, you can find out how to get to many interesting places that are located here at a very short distance from each other.
You have A choice for outdoor enthusiasts such as rafting, jeep excursions, fishing, horseback riding, funicular, snepling! Excursions to the rivers and reserves Zavitan, Yehuda, Aries waterfall, a nature reserve in the Hula Valley, the ruins of Dana, Banias, Kadesh, Madras, Zaki, Ein Tina, Mount Myron, Mount Hermon. Partially (see our article about the best places to see in north Israel with a private driver) about these places has already been told, but in this article, you will learn in more detail about two nature reserves: the Dan nature reserve and the nature reserve in the Hula valley.
Israel is one of the central crossroads on the path of birds from North to South to winter and back. Due to its geographical location, it is in Israel that birds flying from Europe and Asia to Africa stop, and especially there are many of them on the way back. That is why Israel ranks second in the world after Canada in the number of birds flying through its territory.
Lake Hula in northern Israel is one of the main "intermediate" points of migratory birds. In total, there are about a dozen such places in Israel, but it is these places that are one of the main "refueling" and resting points for migratory birds from the north (including from Russia) to the south (to Africa) and back. Specialists now count at least 200 of their types. During the season, about half a billion birds fly over the valley, including more than 100,000 cranes. Some of the birds, including over 30,000 cranes, spend the winter in the valley.
The Hula National Bird Sanctuary is located in the Hula Valley (Upper Galilee) north of Lake Kinneret near Kiryat Shmona on an area of 3.2 hectares. The Hula Valley was once a swampy area around a lake. Lake Hula has formed about 25 thousand years ago as a result of volcanic activity. Blocks of lava blocked the path of streams flowing from the Lebanese mountains and the Golan Heights, and the depression formed in these places was filled with water.
THE HISTORY OF THE HULA NATURE RESERVE
After the proclamation of the State of Israel, the government decided to drain the swampy areas for agricultural purposes. Drainage of the Hula Valley was carried out in 1951-58. Along with the start of work, the struggle to preserve at least a small section of the former landscape began. In 1964, it was decided to leave part of the Hula Valley as Israel's first nature reserve.
Hula Nature Reserve opened in 1978. It has built a system of locks to maintain a constant water level, paved paths, and paths built a pontoon bridge for walking over the marshes and lake, as well as viewing platforms and bird watching towers. Today, the Hula Nature Reserve is a unique corner of wildlife, home to many animals, birds, and fish. Hula Nature Reserve is also home to buffaloes, wild boars, otters, feral cats, muskrats, and many small animals. There are many turtles and fish in the water. Wild papyrus grows in the swamps of the reserve, which looks like a giant dandelion. It was from him that the ancient Egyptians made their "papyri".
HULA NATURE RESERVE WALK
A walk through the Hula Nature Reserve can begin with a visit to a small museum where you will learn about the early settlers, get acquainted with the flora and fauna of the reserve, and watch a 15-minute film about the history of the Hula Valley. After visiting the museum, the actual walk begins. The length of the route is about 1500 m. You will cross the swamps along a wooden footbridge through dense thickets. In the center of the nature reserve, you will walk right in the middle of a small lake along a covered walkway. There are benches for rest and bird watching. You can feed the catfish, which swim very close to this. Do not forget to grab some bread from home for them.
For many people walking the Hula Valley may be too much, therefore inside the nature reserve the are rentable golf carts and our driver who took you to the Hula valley will be happy to drive you inside as well.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO REACH THE HULA VALLEY WITH A DRIVER?
The distance between The central district of Israel where most tourists stay and the Hula valley is 180km, the best and the fastest option to reach the hula valley is with a private driver and we will be able to drive you in just 1.5 hours, the second option is to use public transportation but it will take more than half a day! so why bother? a private driver to the Hula Valley will be the best option.
DAN NATURE RESERVE
The Upper Galilee is also famous for another nature reserve - it is called the Dan nature reserve. In this place, as well as in the Hula Valley, there are hiking trails, but there are also picnic areas.
Remains of ancient structures from different periods have been excavated on the territory of the reserve, including the city gates and the Roman fountain. The tourist route, 3 - 4 kilometers long, runs along the Dan brook. The route is easy enough, without ups and downs, so many come here with small children. Also, you are always in the cool shade of trees and the refreshing moisture of the stream. Some even have a nostalgic feeling that they are in Colorado,
Dan is mentioned for the first time in the book of Bereshit when Abraham pursues the northern kings who kidnapped his nephew Lot. At that time Dan was known under the name "Lish" or "Leshem", and the name of the king who rules the city, according to ancient Egyptian sources, was Horon Av.
Abraham probably passed through the ancient gates of the city of Lish, which are known today as the Canaanite Gates and are located in the western part of the archaeological reserve. This unique monument of the Canaanite era was created 3,700 years ago (Middle Bronze Age), discovered by archaeologists in 1978, and completely opened in 1980. Surprisingly, the Canaanite Gates are perfectly preserved. The Canaanite Gates of Dan rose to a height of seven meters and were covered with a roof. They were part of the wall that surrounded the city of Lish. To reach the gate from the west, one had to climb stone steps, twenty of which have survived to this day. It is assumed that the gates were in use for only one or two generations, later their use ceased, apparently, the townspeople of Lish decided that despite the reinforcing walls, the gate was unsafe. The gate was closed, covered with earth, and became part of the outer wall.
The Dan or Tel Dan nature reserve is considered one of the most beautiful and interesting nature reserves in Israel to visit with a private driver. The name Tel Dan means "Living Water" in translation, which very well reflects the peculiarity of this area: within the reserve, there are many different reservoirs, united by the Dan River - the deepest tributary of the Jordan River. The Dan River feeds on rain and melts mountain waters that flow from Mount Hermon, at the foot of which it flows. To make it easier for tourists to explore all the local beauties, the reserve workers have developed three special walking routes. There is also a route here for people with disabilities - a convenient road has been laid for the movement of wheelchairs.
All routes cover the most interesting and impressive places of the nature reserve: the ruins of the Khaananean ancient city of Lish, ancient mills, and, of course, the three-arched Canaan gates. The history of the famous Israeli clan Dan is also connected with the city of Lish. According to legend, men of this clan conquered the city of Lish, and the surname Dan itself is one of the 12 sons of Jacob (the tribes of Israel).
On the site of the conquered city of Lish, the ancient Jews built their own city and gave it the name Dan. Today, only the remains of the towers of the Hebrew city and the basalt tablet with the text, which, according to archaeological data, are more than 2 thousand years old, have survived from their former splendor. The text of the tablet contains a mention of King David - the only one of its kind, apart from the biblical lines.
Walking through the territory of the reserve, in any of its corners, you can stumble upon something interesting and amazing. It will be interesting for children to look at the "Winnie-the-Pooh tree", inside which there is a huge hollow.
WALKTHROUGH THE DAN NATURE RESERVE
The reserve workers offer a detailed route that starts from a small bridge crossing Dan Creek. Pay attention to the fast and powerful flow of the river at any time of the year. In some parts of Tel Dan, the vegetation is so abundant that the sky is difficult to see. It gives the impression of an Amazonian jungle! After the bridge, the road leads us to the right to an open area lined with eucalyptus and other trees.
We pass another 150 meters and once again cross the Dan stream. We reach a pastoral grove with wonderful trees, which are full of creeping bushes. Merry streams flow between the trees. We cross one of them on the stones and come to the first fork of the route. We turn left and continue walking along the stream to the source of Ein Dan. On the way, we again see wonderful and rare plants, the most impressive of which is the white willow, which grows only near the headwaters of northern Jordan. We reach an abundant spring, which creates a natural pool lined with plants on all sides.
This is the source of Ein Dan. We continue along the road and a little after the turn we again see the fork in the road. The road to the left will lead us to the archaeological site of the ancient city of Tel Dan. Turning to the right, we find ourselves on the way to paradise. "Paradise" is called a wonderful forest with huge century-old trees, between which rivulets murmur, merging into small pools. Truly paradise! Continuing along the road, we reach the next intersection. You can turn left and walk to a huge forked pistachio tree with a large hollow in the middle. This is the very Winnie the Pooh tree. At a large intersection, turn right and go out to the observation deck, in the middle of which there is a huge tree and a breathtaking view of the entire reserve opens up.
Continuing straight along the road, we will reach the Israel Gate, and then to Canaan. Turning left at the crossroads, we find a 19th-century watermill. Continuing straight ahead, after the mill we will reach an artificial pool where you can swim (the only place in the reserve where you are allowed to swim), wet your feet, or just sit on the benches located around. At the large crossroads near the pool, you can turn right towards the ancient gate or left towards the starting point of your journey.
So, we walked with you only two routes of two reserves, and how many can be seen here! Exactly to see, not just read about it - so wildlife sanctuaries and preserved ancient history await you!