- Talma Gotteiner
Hamat Gader: Hot Springs and More for a Perfect Getaway
Updated: Mar 3, 2020
The Hamat Gader Holiday Park is located in the Yarmouk Valley in the southeastern part of the Golan Heights, at a height of 150 m below sea level. The site has four mineral-rich hot springs issued from an estimated depth of about 2 miles or more. I was invited to review the campgrounds and took advantage of the opportunity to spend a lovely weekend with three of my girlfriends. We made two stopovers on the way, which I will share with you at the end.
Hamat Gader Hot Springs
Beit Hankin at Harod Spring National Park
Beit Alfa Synagogue National Park
Hamat Gader Hot Springs The thermal mineral water springs are thought to have several medicinal properties related to improvement of joint, muscle, skin and inflammatory problems. The hot springs complex includes wide pools and waterfalls, Jacuzzi chairs and beds for rest. For balancing , there is a nearby cold pool complex that has fun water fountains and a huge "Splash 360" slide, a major attraction for children.
On weekends the hot pools are open till 21:30 pm so you can take full advantage of them.
Above: The hot springs
Above: The cold pool
In addition to the various pools Hamat Gader offers several family activities for animal lovers. There is a "mini safari" which has monkeys and different types of deer in their natural environment, animals for petting such as rabbits and hamsters and also snake cages. Next to it is an amphitheater where an incredible parrot show is held twice day.
Clockwise from top left: The parrot show, the mini safari, the tropical greenhouse and the fishing pool.
After the amphitheater, lies a Crocodile Farm, with over 100 crocodiles from different species from around the world. The visitors are invited to watch them at their feeding times. The crocodile pools lie next to a fishing lake where you can fish for an extra fee depending on the weather. There is also a tropical greenhouse with dozens of rare birds.
Above: The crocodile pond at chow time
The park is also home to a spectacular ancient Roman site, which you can view from above. Access is currently limited due to safety reasons until restoration activities take place. Lastly, there is a gymboree for children.
Above: The roman ruins
Opening Hours: Hot Springs: Sun-Wed 9:00-15:30, Thurs-Fri 1:00-21:30, Sat 9:00-18:00. Cold pool: Sun-Wed 10:30-15:30, Thurs-Sat 10:30-18:30 You'll receive the show and feeding times at the entrance.
Food The Hamat Gader complex offers 4 types of restaurants: a dairy café and a meat grill bar located next to the hot springs, a dairy Italian restaurant within the "Village Spa" complex for the hotel and spa visitors and a second meat grill restaurant that is located in the center of the park call 'HaMachvat' (i.e. Pan in Hebrew).
On our first night we ate out, but on the second day, we had our pre-home lunch at the 'Pan'. It's a kosher restaurant that serves a full buffet lunch including a large salad bar, a number of main dishes with meat, chicken and fish options, cold and hot beverages and even a Parve ice-cream dessert. The salads were fresh and everything was well seasoned. It was a satisfying meal before the ride home.
Accomodation The site offers a variety of accommodation options to complete the pastime.
In Hamat Gader, three types of camping complexes have been erected. The first is for pampered camping lovers and offers 53 white, air-conditioned and luxurious tents that are suitable for 5 people. The tents are equipped with airconditioning, a light, a power outlet for charging mobile phones and mattresses, pillows, sheets and pillow cases for five. Most importantly, the tents in this complex are situated next to a basketball court so that the parents can relax while the kids play.
The second complex, is an igloo tent camping complex with 60 tents that can accomodate up to 4 people. These tents are also equipped with mattresses, pillows, sheets and pillowcases, but do not have air conditioning.
The third camping option exists for traditional campers, who have their own private tents and full gear.
For the well-being of all the campers, there is a central food storage center as well as tables and camping chairs and barbecue grills, but best of all, there is pickup service that collects your "luggage" from the park entrace and takes it to your campsite so that you don't have to carry it around.
Last, but not least there is a boutique hotel onsite called "Spa Village" that has 31 treatment rooms, each with a Jacuzzi filled by the thermal waters. The spa offers a variety of unique body treatments that can be ordered by any guest within the park regardless of their accomodation.
Beit Hankin at Harod Spring National Park After writing previously about the pioneering couple Yehoshua Hankin, the "Land Redeemer" and his wife Olga Hankin, a celebrated midwife in her day, I was curious to see the home that he built for her on the slopes of the Gilboa Mountains. Unfortunately, she fell ill before the house was completed and did not live in it. However, the house remains and serves as a small museum with a film that presents original film footage from their time. The couple are buried in a tomb next to it. The film has subtitles in English.
At the foot of the mountain on which the house is built, is Gideon's cave. This is the cave that was used to choose the warriors that would fight against the Midianites.The men were told to drink the spring water. Those who lapped the water like dogs were chosen. Those who knelt on their knees to drink were sent home. Book of Judges 7:4-7.
The park itself also has a beautiful shallow pool which is especially suitable for young children.
Above: Yehoshua and Olga Hankin's house and tomb
Beit Alfa Synagogue National Park The Beit Alfa Synagogue took us back to the 6th century A.D. The beautiful mosaic floor of the synagogue was discovered by accident by members of the Beit Alfa Kibbutz in 1928. The historic background and explanation regarding the inscriptions and drawings of the mosaic are explained in a short film. A roof was built over the whole area of excavation in order to protect the floor, which conveniently provides an air conditioned environment.
Above: A small section of the floor
My Timeline The Hamat Gader park opens at 9:00. However, since the tents are allocated at 16:00 and since we wanted to diversify the trip, we started by driving to the Harod Spring National Park (~2hrs). From there, we drove to the Beit Alfa Synagogue and finally arrived at Hamat Gader at around 15:00. We departed the following day at around 16:30, returning home in high spirits at around 18:30.
This is what it looks like on the map:
A similar article in Hebrew may be found in the following link:
קרא אודות חמת גדר בעברית.
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