The Golan is a very different place when compared to some parts of Israel – some very imposing landscape when viewed from the Kinneret; lush and verdant from the very northern parts of the Kinneret, yet on top a fairly flat plain (with some deep wadis and valleys). There is a feeling of much more space up here – more room and more air.
The views across the top of the Golan, towards Mount Hermon, over the Galilee and Syria are quite spectacular. The sites are a mix of the rural and the historical (because of its importance in the 1967 and 1973 wars). The Golan has an on-going strategic importance, so you are about equally likely to see cows pasturing or tanks on maneuvers. Check out the places which will become your instant favorites:
Gamla– Gamla is an ancient city situated in the southern part of Golan. It lies within the Gamla Nature Reserve that stretches along two streams, the Gamla and the Dallot streams. Here you can watch the griffon vultures, enjoy the waterfall, and learn about the city’s dramatic history.
Nahal El Al is an off-the-beaten track Golan trail but is very suitable for families. While Yehudiya & Gilaboon are more ideal for teenagers and the older folk. The Gilaboon is also okay for children, but with supervision and care.
Wine and Water in the Golan
Mei Eden is a popular brand of water in Israel and you can actually check out the spring where the company gets its water.
Next, visit the Golan Heights Winery and take advantage of the winery shop and then stock up on stuff you need in Kazrin, which is the capital of the Golan.
Odem Deer Reserve
The deer reserve at Odem is outstanding, the guides are incredible, and the animals are animals. It can be hard to find, perhaps that’s why there is overnight camping. Great for families with kids, though. It is located just off Road 978 south of Masade.
Near the Banias and on Road 99 and 978 towards Masade, you can enjoy a Golan shopping experience. The local Druze sell their produce (which are seasonal), but the apples and the cherries are just moreish. The olive oil is also a must have. But don’t just go shopping – you can also visit The Banias
Tel Dan – the prettiest way to end the afternoon is a walk along the river. The Tel Dan Nature Reserve features some of the most spectacular natural attractions in Israel. It also boasts extensive ancient excavations, for Tel Dan was once the site of the Canaanites and an Israeli tribe Dan..
Water on the Golan
Get wet and wetter! Go rafting on the Jordan or wade through the Madrasse. Go swimming in the Kinneret – there are many beaches along the Golan shore. Some of them have full water park facilities and require admission fees. Other beaches (mainly in the south) are free. Just pull your car off the road. Don’t ever miss the sunset viewing there!
Wind power! See the Golan Heights Wind Farm generating electricity. The windmills are perched 1,050 meters (3,444 feet) above sea level. The Mey Eden mineral water company founded this wind farm in 1992. It is located on Road 98 north of Alonei HaBashan.
Visit the hot springs of Hamat HaGeder (where Syria, Jordan and Israel meet.) Check out the ruins, the spa and the crocodiles. The views of the rock faces are interesting, and there is some challenging driving involved. It is located on Road 98, southeast of the Kinneret. See Hamat HaGader
Scenic Golan Drive
To really get to know the Golan, go for a drive. It is very pleasant and traffic is light. The recommended route (from the south) are Roads 98 – 808 – 87 – 98 – 989. This takes in most of the views, gives an idea of the strategic importance of the Golan, and takes you through some of the battlefields, lovely orchards, and some of the Druze towns in the North. Look out for tanks and stop frequently to enjoy the air.
Sunset over the Kinneret
Bring some cold beer or wine, find an observation point on Road 869 or 789, relax and watch the sun go down.
Compensate the driver (and their friends) with cold water melon and/or a barbecue. Some parts of Road 92 (higher parts at the more northern end) also offer excellent views.