Days Out in the Galilee & Golan

The Banias

The Banias is the term referring to an ancient site that was built around a spring which was once associated with Pan, the Greek god of the wild, the shepherds and the flocks, nature and rustic music. The name “Banias” itself is associated with the pre-Hellenistic Greek god, who is also variously called “Ba’al-gad” or “Ba’al-hermon.” The Banias is located at the foot of Mount Hermon, north of Golan Heights.

The Banias is one of the sources of the Jordan River. The national park (see Nature Reserves) is one of the delights of the north. It is very easy to explore here and wander along the river bank enjoying the shade and the water. One of the places that you can return to time and time again.

There are a few places to dip your feet (if the  rangers don’t spot you) but, this it is basically forbidden to get in the water at the Banias. About half way along the trail you will normally find a friendly Druze family selling home made refreshments including – made on the spot – pitot.

There is also a slightly longer route that takes in a waterfall – if you have two cars then leave one at the other end otherwise you will have to walk back along the road to the main car park. Alternatively, you can drive to the waterfall (same ticket).

The first section of the Banias is wheelchair and stroller accessible, but a large part is a trail – easy going but unsuitable for stroller and wheelchairs.

The Banias springs is part of the Banias Nature Reserve, which also includes a falls park.

waterfalls in Israel
Waterfalls at Banias Falls Park

The Banias Falls Park has a spacious parking lot and other facilities. It is also the place to buy some ice cream, snacks, and hot Druze pitas. Past the ticket gate, there’s a trail that leads down to the river, a round-trip walk (which includes a suspended trail) that takes about 45 minutes. The suspended trail provides a different and unique approach in reaching the waterfalls — it was built along the basalt and travertine stone walls of the gorge, with the raging river only several meters below.

Although you can visit the Banias Falls Park any time of the year, the best time to go there is during the winter and spring seasons — the waterfalls are the most impressive because the water is at its most plentiful, on its way down to the Sea of Galilee. The waterfall measures about 10 meters (about 33 feet) high.

Banias Spring Cliff Pan's Cave
Spring of Banias river, one of the main tributary of the Jordan River. In the background Pan’s cave, in which the river originated in ancient times until an earthquake blocked it.

The Banias Springs Park has a smaller parking lot, gift shop and other facilities. The wide opening of Pan’s Cave can be seen from the road, making it easily recognizable. Before the cave, there is the “Hermon stream” — a calm series of stepped water — which can overflow onto the paved walkway. The entrance to the cave is gorgeous and quite tranquil.

There are some ruins within the park — which include a shrine dedicated to Pan and related Greek deities. But it also has some Christian significance. Without detracting from the historical interest this is primarily a lovey nature reserve.

Note: one ticket gains entrance to both parks.

See Banias Nature Reserve

Getting To The Banias

On the Road 99 (main east road from Kiryat Shemona)

 

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