Avital Volcanic Park

May 24th 2013

Even if you’ve been all around Israel, you probably haven’t been to the Avital Volcanic Park yet. Newly opened in March of 2013, the Avital Volcanic Park is a dormant geological volcanic site in the Golan Heights, not far from Israel’s border with Syria and about a 40-minute drive from Tiberias. The Avital Volcanic Park was built on the grounds of an old quarry and is one of a handful of abandoned quarries throughout Israel that are being transformed into public parks by the Quarry Rehabilitation Fund.

Although the actual volcano that is believed to have created the Golan Heights is long dormant, the Avital Volcanic Park allows visitors to visualize lava spewing forth from the rock here via a simulated volcanic eruption. Visitors can also follow a short hiking trail among the black basalt rocks created by the original volcano. To amuse the kids, and to nourish the child-like wonder in adults, bring a compass and watch it go wild as a result of the electromagnetic forces on the site. On Thursday evenings, visitors are welcome to take a free night walk to witness an unusual audio-visual illumination program that likewise mimics volcanic eruptions. It’s a stunning sound and light show that brightens up the night sky. Open seven days a week, the park is best experienced with a pre-arranged guide.

Once you’re in the area, stop in at the charming local coffee shop called Coffee Annan for a drink and a snack. Annan is the Hebrew word for “cloud,” and, true to its name, Coffee Annan is the coffee shop situated at the highest elevation in all of Israel. It’s also a play on words with the name Kofi Annan, the diplomat from Ghana who served as the Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1997 until 2006.
The views in the Golan Heights are both stunning and eye-opening. In the same way that a picture is worth a thousand words, from this vantage point, you’ll be able to see into Lebanon and Syria, quickly coming to a deeper understanding of how close Israel’s neighbors really are. The view from the Golan Heights offers visitors an unambiguous perspective on the strategic importance of the site for Israel.