Golan

Overview

Introduction

The upland region of Golan Heights is the far northeastern part of Israel 95 mi/150 km north of Jerusalem. It became part of the country after being taken from Syria in the Six-Day War in 1967. Like Upper Galilee, parts of this contested border area come under periodic shelling, and some places are peppered with land mines; subsequently, a peace-keeping force from the United Nations was put in place to patrol the Syrian-Israeli border.

It's a shame, because in quiet times the area is a paradise for nature lovers and offers a diversity of landscapes—woodlands, water-filled canyons and natural hot springs. Some are protected in reserves. (Stay on marked and well-traveled paths in remote areas: The minefields in Golan, although behind fences, are not always well-marked.)

Hiking trails in the Gamla Nature Reserve include the highest perennial waterfall in Israel, a rare concentration of birds of prey such as Griffon vultures, and remains from the ancient settlement of Gamla. On weekdays, the nature reserve is often closed to visitors because of army exercises at the nearby base. Call before you set out to verify that it is open.

The main attraction of Katzrin, Golan's largest (but still small) town, is the Golan Heights Winery, where you can taste internationally acclaimed vintages and appreciate the view of the Sea of Galilee. http://www.golanwines.co.il.

The Golan Heights region is also famous for its premium-quality olive oil, beer and bottled water.

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