Golan Heights 2 of 2: Walking In Water
Updated: Apr 22, 2020
This post is the second half of my three-day trip to the Golan Heights in Passover. You can read the first half here
Trip Itinerary Options
Day 2 Second Half
13:30 Manara Cliff Cable Car
17:00 BBQ in B&B
20:00 Lantern night tour at Tel-Faher
9:30 Manara Cliff Mountain Slide
10:30 Banias Nature Reserve
15:30 Bicycle Tour in Beit Hillel
19:00 Parting Dinner
The name ‘Banias’ is a local evolvement of the name ‘Panias’ named after the Greek god ‘Pan’ the faun-like god of the wild, shepherds and flocks. It is indicative of the fact that a temple was found within the reserve with a shrine dedicated to ‘Pan’ and an inscription related both to ‘Pan’ and to ‘Echo’ the nymph goddess. Remains of an ancient city founded some time after the conquest of Alexander the Great (~332 BCE) were also found near the temple. The city was referred to as ‘Cesarea Phillipi’ (named after Herod’s son Philip the Tetrarch) in the Gospels of Mathew and Mark.
But aside from the beautiful remains cut into the natural cliff face, the Banias nature reserve is beautiful to visit because of its lovely verdure. The nature reserve at the foot of the Hermon Mountain, encloses a spring, the source of which is next to the temple as well as the largest waterfall in Israel. There are two entrances to the nature reserve, either by the spring or by the falls and if you only have one car, there are shuttles running between them. We walked from the spring to the waterfall. Although surrounded by water, the trail itself does not involve entering the river. The spring entrance has an immediate effect of serenity as the water collects into large pools before continuing its natural flow.
We all wanted a photo there so:
From the pools we walked to the temple and ancient ruins and afterwards continued with the path back towards the flow of the river. On the way we passed a flour mill that is still in operating condition until we reached the waterfall, which can be seen from a suspended bridge bringing you meters away from the strong cascade of water. The waterfall flows from a height of 10 m or 33 ft leading 125 million cubic meters of water annually.
We got out at the falls entrance where we had left one car to enable pickup of the other cars from the spring entrance.
Lantern Night Tour at Tel-Faher
For me, this turned out to be the highlight of the trip. Tel-Faher was the site of a fierce battle that took place during the six-day war. The tour starts at the memorial site of the Golani brigade and includes a visit to the Syrian bunker that was conquered and a view of the settlements along the border. The guide provides a full explanation related to the background of events leading up to the battle and its impact on the lives of the people living in the Golan Heights. I met Oren, the tour guide at a tourist convention and cannot recommend him highly enough. It’s as if he lived through it.
The Cliff at Manara is one of the more exciting family attractions in Israel. The cliff itself is ~900 m above sea level and the kibbutz is situated at the top. The kibbutz offers a number of extreme sports attractions including the longest cable car in Israel, mountain slides, a trampoline, wall climbing, rappelling, archery, a train ride at the top of the cliff, fruit picking and guided tours with a variety of combination tickets respectively.
We purchased a combination ticket in advance for the cable car and mountain slide so that we could enjoy the amazing viewpoint to its full advantage. The cable has 12 cars, each seating up to eight people per car. We got on at the lower station and stayed at the top for about an hour posing for selfies and an ice-cream break. Younger children have a variety of outdoor game tables as well.
To be honest, I had planned to complete the mountain slides on the same day, but since we still had an active day ahead of us we decided to leave them for the following morning, which turned out to be much quicker due to shorter waiting lines.
The mountain slides also start at the level of the lower cable station so we went back down. The slide cars are two seaters. Children are allowed to get on the slides from age 3 and above with an accompanying grown child (12 or above) and an adult. The cars first go up the mountain and then come back down on a circular route and can reach a speed of up to 40 kmph. The velocity when going down is self-controlled.
Bicycle Tour in ‘Beit Hillel’
The path from the bicycle rental at ‘Beit Hillel’ runs alongside the Snir river, but outside of the nature reserve that I mentioned in my previous post. It is another way to enjoy the shade of the river and sound of flowing water. You can stop to rest at several points alongside the river bank and watch the kayakes go by. At the bicycle rental shop you’ll get a map and explanation.
In order to beat some of the expected Passover traffic, we decided to stop for our parting meal somewhere on the way. We stopped at the kosher ‘Café Café’ in Ramat Yishai, which is a large restaurant center. Other options include: ‘Limousin’, ‘Gustino’, ‘Habutke’, ‘Landwer Café’, ‘Asado Bar’, ‘La Noma Restaurant’, ‘Katzavim Be’Emek’, ‘Butcher meat restaurant’, ‘Basarela’, ‘Siam’ and ‘Atza Sushi Bar’.
You can search for B&Bs on my ‘Best B&B’ page.
This post covers a day and a half out of three.
This is what it looks like on the map:
So, what did we have? Taking into account the previous post, we had three attractions (a maze, manara cliff and bicyle tour), two nature reserves (Snir-Hasbani and Banias), two historic tours (Yagur and Tel-Faher), two BBQs, one 'Chad-Gadia', Pan (it's related to a Passover song) and overall one AMAZING trip. How’s that for a Passover-style summary!
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