The Zavitan hexagonal pillars pool in Yehudiya Forest Nature Reserve.

© RnDmS/Getty Images/iStock

Yehudiya Nature Reserve

Top choice in Golan Heights

Both casual strollers and experienced hikers – especially those who aren’t averse to getting wet – will find plenty to engage and challenge them in this 66-sq-km nature reserve. Mammals you might encounter include gazelles and wild boar, while the cliffs are home to birds of prey as well as songbirds. Swimming is permitted in the reserve's natural pools – hugely refreshing on a hot day.

Most of the trails follow three cliff-lined wadis, with year-round water flow, that drain into the northeastern corner of the Sea of Galilee. Wadi Yehudiya and Wadi Zavitan are both easiest to access from the Yehudiya Parking Lot (Chenyon Yehudiya), which is on Rte 87 midway between Katzrin and the Sea of Galilee.

Wadi Meshushim, easiest to get to from the Meshushim Parking Lot, is situated 2.8km along a gravel road from Rte 888, which parallels the Jordan River. The parking lot is 8km northeast of the New Testament site of Bethsaida.

The rangers at both entrances to Yehudiya (pronounced yeh-hoo-dee-yah) are extremely knowledgeable and can point you in the right direction, as well as register you, for your own safety. The only map you’ll need is the excellent colour-coded one provided at the ticket booths.

Stick to marked trails. People have fallen to their deaths while attempting to negotiate treacherous makeshift trails, and there’s an army firing zone east of Wadi Yehudiya (across Rte 87).

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