(photo credit:Shem Tov Sasson)
Tourist Israel is Israel’s "cool" travel guide.
Nachal Kziv (Kziv Stream) Nature Reserve contains some of the Galilee's
finest hiking, from the stream's seasonal start carved through the low
mountains to the lazy end at Achziv – a historical site. During the
winter months the stream's cold water rushes downhill, emptying into the
expansive Mediterranean Sea. The summer months reduce much of the
stream to sun-baked rocks, with copious amounts of shade trees. Both
seasons provide lovely hikes for the whole family.
20-kilometer long Nachal Kziv can be accessed from many points along
its course, some of them requiring vigorous hiking down into the gorges
and others just a short walk from civilization as we know it. Perhaps
the most popular of segments is the area between Monfort Castle and
Ma'alot, a scenic plunge twisting through the rock-face cliffs and
tree-covered mountains that comprise much of the Upper Galilee's
topography. This segment of hiking is included in the very popular and
very worthwhile hike of Hof L'Hof
(or as it is known to Americans and other Anglos: Yam L'Yam
which takes hikers from the shores of Lake Kinneret to the
Mediterranean. Of course, this hike can be done just by walking along
the riverbed but some of the greater treasures lay at a higher
The Monfort Castle is one of the premier Crusader
establishments in the Galilee, along with the Yehiam Fortress and the
city of Acre. Below the castle is an old Crusader-era flour mill, which
historically used the torrents of icy winter water to grind out flour
for the Crusaders living up above. But there was also an inn, for those
traveling the riverbed, and that inn still stands today, fully
accessible. Another few Crusader buildings can be seen along the stream,
a testimony to the war and strife that once slashed its way through the
structures are not the only gems along the Kziv Stream. A wonderful
little cave known as Ein Tamir and several popular waterholes attract
tourists and locals alike. The cave, very easy to miss, is just a slice
out of the rock. With crystal-clear, icy-cold water lapping at the feet,
spelunkers have to nearly immerse themselves completely to traverse the
full length of the narrow, tunnel-like cave. Just a few minutes away
are the swimming holes, complete with small waterfalls. The holes are
very popular for swimming in and the local fish congregate to snack at
the human toes that enter their domain – always a fun experience.
should be noted that the rare Persian fallow deer were re-introduced
after they went extinct in the Kziv area. The deer that you may see
today, should you chance upon them sneakily enough, are most likely the
children of the deer that were brought from Iran in 1996.
start of the stream, on the Western side of Mount Meron, water can only
been seen during the winter months. The perennial segment begins only
after the city of Ma'alot, a few kilometers before the Ein Tamir cave
and watering holes. This hike can be accessed from either the industrial
section of Ma'alot, where one can park one's vehicle and trek down the
paved road to the riverbed, or from the Monfort castle side, entering
into the Christian village of Mi'ilya, where the hike is more strenuous
and the riverbed would not be reached for quite some time. On the
opposite side of the river, the Goren Park monopolizes the park entries
and, although possible, most visitors do not descend from that location.
Kziv is free to access from everywhere but the end, at the Achziv
National Park. There, after paying admission fees, camping can be
experienced – one of the more popular past-times in the Achziv Park.
access points are found along Road 89, as the highway runs parallel to
the stream. A brown sign declaring the presence of the Monfort Castle at
the entrance of Mi'ilya marks the spot where the castle can be best
accessed. A few minutes further East along the highway, the turn-off for
the Ma'alot Industrial area can be found, and from there, the
relatively easy hike to the riverbed.
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