Israel's Gilboa March returns for spring 2022

Inaugurated in 1966 and now a well-known international event, the march has not taken place the past two years due to COVID-19 restrictions.

 Flowers in the Gilboa (photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
Flowers in the Gilboa
(photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)

Following the winter rains, fields around the country are blossoming with colorful flowers. One of the most beautiful areas in the country in the springtime, in my opinion, is the Gilboa, and in honor of the change of seasons, it’s time for the annual Gilboa March.

Inaugurated in 1966 and now a well-known international event, the march has not taken place the past two years due to COVID-19 restrictions, making this year’s celebration that much more special. 

There will be three walking tracks: The Family Track, which is 6 km. long; the Popular Track, 10 km. long; and the Challenging Track at 20 km. long. All of the tracks will pass through the gorgeous surroundings near Emek Harod and Mount Gilboa, where the Gilboa Iris is currently in full bloom. 

The march along the Challenging Track will take place on both Friday and Saturday, to enable as many Israeli and foreign tourists to participate as possible. The other two tracks will be operational only on Saturday. In addition, there will be a host of fun activities for the whole family on site, culminating with a fabulous performance including a free-fall stunt. 

March participants are requested to park at Ma’ayan Harod National Park, from which there will be free shuttles to the starting point of the march. At the end, march participants and other visitors can enjoy children’s activities, including arts and craft workshops using materials found in nature, and purchase treats at food stalls. The head of the Gilboa Regional Council will speak at the closing ceremony, which will take place in Ma’ayan Harod. 

 Gilboa views (credit: MEITAL SHARABI) Gilboa views (credit: MEITAL SHARABI)

Dates: Friday, April 1 & Saturday, April 2. Free shuttles will run between 6:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.Price: NIS 40 from age 3. Details: bit.ly/Gilboa2022. Tickets can be purchased on site. 

1. Gideon Spring

If you feel like getting out into nature, but you’d rather not spend the day at a popular site that’s full of other hikers, then you’ll probably enjoy spending time at Gideon Spring, a wonderful shallow pool in Gideon Forest. And if you’re not really up for a big hike, you’re in luck, since it only takes a few minutes to reach the spring from the parking area. To reach the pool, take the trail on your left. The walk to the pool is shaded by tall trees, making this a popular spot all year round. Moreover, there’s a picnic table there, as well as a 500-meter circular trail that will give you a little taste of the natural surroundings. 

If you have more energy and feel like exploring a little further into the forest, I recommend taking another path that sets off toward the east along the stream, where you will find ancient flour mills. 

Another attraction in the Gideon Forest area is the Senses Park, which includes a climbing wall for children, balancing equipment made from tree stumps, an underground pipe through which you can talk with someone on the other end, slides and a fire pit. 

Location: Gideon Forest (Waze). 

2. Kibbutz Ein Harod Ihud 

This past year, the Kfir airplane was quietly moved from the Israel Air Force Museum to Kibbutz Ein Harod Ihud. This event was a dream come true for Yishai Zimmerman, a 90-year-old member of the kibbutz who fought in Unit 101. This was his way of paying homage to the 10 pilots from the kibbutz who lost their lives in Israel’s wars. 

Zimmerman, one of the oldest living members of the kibbutz, is proud to be the first of a three-generation dynasty of pilots – his son, granddaughter and grandson are also IAF pilots. Hikers and tourists can now come to Kibbutz Ein Harod Ihud to see one of the Kfir airplanes that saw lots of action before arriving in its current location. 

 Kfir airplane (credit: MEITAL SHARABI) Kfir airplane (credit: MEITAL SHARABI)

Location: Kfir Airplane (Waze).

3. Ma’aleh Gilboa Wind Farm

If you’re interested in learning more about alternative energy sources, or you’re just looking for an awesome place to take a selfie, you’ll definitely want to make a visit to the Ma’aleh Gilboa Renewable Energy Wind Farm. Located just next to Kibbutz Ma’aleh Gilboa, this ecological energy power station has a visitors’ center where guests can watch a short film and then join a 90-minute guided tour in which they’ll learn all about this unique initiative.

Dates: Tours take place every day at 12 p.m., and three tours take place on Fridays. Preregistration required. Price: NIS 42, from age 5.

4. All-terrain tours

Tour guide Adi Shafran, who leads all-terrain vehicle tours, has years of experience in the field of sport vehicle driving, as well as in organizing outdoor events and tours in which participants drive their own car (some tours require a 4-wheel drive vehicle). During these tours, Shafran leads guests to various locations in the Gilboa region with breathtaking views, gushing streams and springs, as well as to local art galleries. An option to include a light meal is also available.

Tour groups can include up to five vehicles. 

Details: (050) 543-2640.

5. Where to eat?

There is an extremely limited number of restaurants in the Gilboa, especially after two years of the pandemic. Be that as it may, I truly enjoyed my meal at Kimmel BaGilboa, which is particularly popular among tourists and offers an incredible view. Shaul Ben Aderet founded this restaurant, which is currently managed by chef Ben Shaham, who bases many of the dishes on locally sourced ingredients. The menu includes specialty dishes such as onion soup with croutons and cheese, chicken liver paté with pine nuts and carrot jam, mushroom and spinach risotto and beef Stroganoff.

Details: (04) 689-5566.

6. Picnic in nature

If you’d rather pick up a prepared picnic breakfast, then I recommend you order one from Meital Gutman, who runs the Ma’afim Shel Meital catering service. Her baskets include fresh salads, omelets, muesli, cheese, bread, butter, jam and lots of other treats. 

Price: NIS 160-200 for a two-person basket. Disposable and real plates and utensils available. Details: 054-214-475 or 052-269-0522.

Translated by Hannah Hochner.