Nahal Gilabon 4 465.
(photo credit: Yoni Cohen)
Joe Yudin owns Touring Israel, a company that specializes in “Lifestyle” tours of Israel.
is no better place in Israel to mix a day of hiking in beautiful
natural surroundings while visiting incredible ancient and modern
historical sites than on the Golan Heights.
An eclectic blend of places can always be worked into an itinerary,
from wine tasting, to exploring a 2,000 year old city or a battle site,
the Golan Heights has it all. In the summer months, which are usually
brutally hot, it is always a good idea to include an easy or even a
rigorous hike in or around the Golan’s many springs or streams to which
you can take a refreshing dip and relax along the way. A favorite hike
among Israelis, albeit a bit off the beaten path for the average
tourist, is the hike through Nahal Gilabon (pronounced Jilla-boon).
northeast on Route 91, cross the Jordan River on the “Benot Yaakov”
(Daughters of Jacob) Bridge, the “Beit HaMeches” (Tax House) and pass
Nashut Junction. A couple of miles up the road you will see a brown sign
pointing to your left (west) stating “Nahal Gilboan Nature Reserve”.
Take a left and carefully follow this gravel road on the red trail
marker to a parking lot. Beware of serious pot holes! While driving
notice the destroyed Syrian village of Aweinat el-Jenobiya and at the
parking lot the village of Aweinat es-Samalya. These villages were
probably settled in the 18th and 19th centuries by Bedouin.
the concrete buildings, bunkers, trenches and pillboxes built by the
Syrian military in preparation for war against Israel. They also planted
clumps of eucalyptus trees around their installations in order to
camouflage themselves and provide shade for their soldiers. Also notice
the many fenced-off Syrian minefields with their yellow signs and red
triangles warning of the danger. Stay on the marked trails only! It is
no surprise that the villagers abandoned this military base/village
during the heavy fighting of the Six Day War in 1967. After the war the
Israelis razed the buildings.
After lathering up with sunscreen,
putting on your hats, bathing suiting, water shoes and packing lunch and
lots of water, follow the red trail through the village and down into
the Gilabon stream. Keep an eye out for myrtle, sabras (prickly pears),
squill and fennel. The aromatic myrtle plant is one of the four species
of plants used during the festival of Sukkot. A common nickname for
native born Israelis is “Sabra” named after the prickly pear fruit
because it is course on the outside and sweet on the inside, and due to
its prickly exterior if you don’t treat it carefully and with respect
while trying to get to the sweet interior, you are bound to get hurt.
Cut the ripe fruit off the cactus with a knife and roll it around in the
mud, without using your bare hands of course, before slicing off the
sides. You can eat the fruit with the seeds or spit them out.
Cross the river and you will immediately hear the rush of the Devorah
Waterfall. Take a look down the cliff but don’t get too close to the
abyss. Later you can go for a swim underneath this powerful force of
nature, but in the meantime follow the red trail to the blue trail and
make your way up the hill among the destroyed Syrian military
installations and to the remnants of the ancient Jewish village of
Dabura to which the previously seen waterfall received its name.
Bedouin Arabs had settled here in the 18th or 19th century. The famous
American-German “Templer” archaeologist, Gottlieb Schumacher, did a survey here in 1885 and
reported that the Arabs had abandoned their village but had built their
homes out of the ruins of an earlier Jewish village. In the twentieth
century, the Syrian military built an army base here also reusing the
volcanic basalt stones of the Roman-Byzantine village with added
The most important archaeological find here, which is now in the Golan
Archaeological Museum in Katzrin just four kilometers away, is the
Aramaic inscription identifying the yeshiva (academy) of Rabbi Eliezar
HaKappar who is mentioned in the Talmud. The discussion in the Talmud
relates what one may carry and wear on Shabbat while making the journey
from Katzrin to this rabbi’s yeshiva. There are many other carvings and
engravings scattered about the ruined village. The best example is just
off the trail on the left, by the nature reserve sign. From this
courtyard enter the large building with many doorways. Between two
doorways is a carving of an eagle with a snake in its mouth.
Make your way back down the blue trail to the red trail and down around
to the Devorah Falls. Be careful when climbing down into the pools. If you
are allergic to bees you should probably skip this pool, and go straight
to the next one. Usually if you leave
them alone they leave you alone. Wild pink and white oleander dot the
sides of the pools. They look and smell beautiful, but don’t pick them
for the sap is poisonous. Generally speaking, most wildflowers are
protected in Israel so please don’t pick the flowers. Continue down the
stream bed. There are points along the trail where you can actually hike
through the water. Eventually you will get to Israel’s second largest
continuously flowing waterfall at about forty meters high. The views of
the Gilabon Falls while hiking down to them are breathtaking and are
worth a few stops for pictures along the way. Please be careful when
approaching the cliffs while checking out the falls.
Once at the pool relax, delve into the cool waters and see if you can
make your way behind the falls. There is a small cave their where you
can look through the falls back at the pool. This is one of the most
beautiful spots in all Israel and a great place for a picnic. Remember
to leave nothing but tracks! When you are ready to go, retrace your
steps on the red trail, but do not continue up the adjacent slope as the
red trail continues west to an old Syrian officers pool way down the
trail. Return the same way you came until you get to the blue trail
heading up the hill and to the ice-cream lady. After a cold drink or
snack continue about a kilometer and a half down the blue trail on the
gravel road to the red trail gravel road and go left back to your car.
Hope you had as much fun as I did.Joe Yudin
became a licensed tour guide in 1999. He completed his Master’s degree
at the University of Haifa in the Land of Israel Studies and is
currently studying toward a PhD.