January 1st 2015
A tour of Israel’s picturesque Golan Heights would be incomplete without a stop to admire the thundering waters of the Banias Waterfall. The most impressive waterfall in Israel is located within the Banias Nature Reserve in the Upper Golan, between the Hula Valley and Mount Hermon. The waterfall here is, by far, the most popular destination in the entire expansive reserve.
There are two entrances to the Banias Nature Reserve and its four marked trails. The easiest path to the waterfall is a five or ten minute walk from the first entrance. While the waterfall can be reached within minutes of the parking area, if you have the time, consider following Trail #4 for a most memorable way to encounter the waterfall. It’s a 45-minute walk from the parking lot, through the scenic nature reserve, to view of the waterfall from the suspended bridge and walk back to the parking lot.
The falls here are best visited during Israel’s rainy season, roughly November to April, when the flow is at its fullest and most imposing, reaching a height of 33 feet. As the power of so many tons of water slams down, it creates a heavy mist that reaches visitors on the nearby observation deck, so expect to get a little wet.
The Banias Nature Reserve itself is both an archeological site and a haven for nature. In addition to the waterfall, the park contains
springs and tributaries that begin at the foot of Mount Hermon and culminate in the majestic Banias Waterfall, all amid walking trails, ruins of a temple that King Herod built in memory of the Roman Emperor Augustus, gorgeous plants, animals and picnic area. There are also shrines and other ruins of Panias, a city named for the Greek god Pan. Keep your eyes out for the rock hydrx, a small animal that looks like a guinea pig. They tend to be spotted in the small openings of the craggy rock face, or deep in the caves of Banias.
You’ll find a well-maintained parking lot, restroom facilities and a snack bar at the entrance. Although the winter months are best for seeing the waterfall at its peak, even a summer visit is pleasant, since the dense forestation throughout the nature reserve provides adequate shade.