The Golan Heights

June 2nd 2011

Literally a wondrous breath of fresh air on your Israel vacation for those craving to get off the bus and onto a rough terrain vehicle, feeling the wind racing through their hair as they adventure through the beautiful and varied lands of the Golan.  Note for the more quirky amongst you: dune buggies are also available for usage.

The Golan Heights is a 454 square mile mountainous region located in Northern Israel, ranging from 1200 m above sea level in the Golan North to 300 m in the South.

Things to be on the lookout: gorgeous fields full of vegetation galore, wild animals roaming freely about,  streams, views onto the Jordan River, the Sea of Galilee, nature reserves, Mt. Hermon, waterfalls, orchards, and just about everything under the sun . Israel doesn’t get much better than this.

To those interested in the military connection the Golan Heights have with what to talk about.  Previously pre 1967, it was a Syrian stronghold, a strategic military base that was utilized by the Syrians against its Jewish residents down below.  Thankfully since 1967 the Golan Heights has been re-united with Israel and is Israel’s tourist playground.

In the Golan, you can visit  Rujum al-Hiri (Circle of Ghosts), which was a Megalithic structure established about 5,000 years ago, or Nimrod’s Fortress from the 12th century. There are also burial grounds from 4,000 years ago, a Jewish city of 2,000-years… Yada yada yada. Fill in all of the groups throughout history that enjoyed settling in the land; Romans, Persians, Ottomans, you name it.

Various architectural sites; (BaniasGamla, and ancient Katzrin are welcome for your digging viewing pleasure.

Of course, the Golan area is mentioned in the Bible, as the area which the Jews captured from the Amorites when they entered the land, inhabited later by the tribes of Judah and Menashe.

It is thought that the Jewish community of the Golan was among the groups that Judah haMacabee of the Hanukkah story rescued in his campaigning.

With some firm history under your belt, you can know that you have done your intellectual duty, as you push it all to the side, slide back into your well-worn Jeep car seat, and let the sense of absolute freedom and relaxation take over your body as your four wheel drive careens, glides, and  adventures through the land.