israel · israell · syria

Discovering Northern Israel

Israel is famous for Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea, Masada and Eilat. Sure, those places are great but the country has far more to offer than just that.

In late October, my boyfriend and I went on a backpacking trip to the north.

Just the heads up, by “backpacking” I mean: backpack + tent + hiking boots + public transport. We didn’t sleep in hostels cuz there are none. Hotels? You might as well forget about that if you’re not rich…

 

ROSH HANIKRA

Literally translated to “head of the caves”, Rosh HaNikra is located right on the Israel-Lebanon border. The road stops there for the public and the soldiers who guard the border and protect us from the missiles (bombs) fired by the Lebanese, are on top of the mountain right next to the caves.

Wait…

what?

*Sigh*, Lebanon and Israel are still at war but you really don’t need to worry cuz the Israelis have everything under control. No missile has ever fallen on Rosh HaNikra and no missile or bomb will ever fall there, I hope.

Anyway, back to the caves; there’s not much to say about it but if I can give one piece of advice, go in the late afternoon for the best light.

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TSFAT / SAFED

Oh Tsfat, how I love you. Tsfat, or Safed in English, is an ancient town in the Upper Galilee in Northern Israel. Tsfat is holy to religious Jews and is surrounded by graves of famous rabbis and other religious people. The real gem is the old town itself though. Forget about these graves and go straight to the ancient centre of town.

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Ever heard of the Liberation of Tsfat during the Israeli War of Independence in ’48? I’m not so much into telling war stories cuz I hate war – though this is a story worth sharing. The Jews wanted Tsfat because it’s one of the 4 holy cities for Jews. Another reason why they wanted the city is because of its location; it is the highest town in the whole country. Obviously, for that reason, the Arabs wanted to capture Tsfat too, so… the battle began. It is worth noting that there were only approx 4000 people (Jews) living in Tsfat at the time and there were about 40.000 Arabs… It was an unrealistic goal of the Jews to fight, obviously they would all get killed, right..?

But here it is, Tsfat is a Jewish city, and maybe a little more holy than it was before. Because back in ’48, 4000 Jews managed to win the battle from 40000 Arabs.

The story is not complete, if you wanna read the whole story, check it out on Tsfat’s official website.

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Tunnels under the old city

 

SENIR STREAM NATURE RESERVE

If y’all think there’s no natural green in Israel, pay a visit to the Senir Stream Natural Park and you’ll see something that’ll blow your mind. It is the most diverse natural park I’ve ever been to cuz; first of all, it’s not big! But one part looks like a fairy tale forest and the other part is dry and arid and has a view on mount Hermon (the highest mountain in Israel – you can even ski there) and… Lebanon. Again.

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This river, the S(e)nir stream, is a tributary of the Jordan River. You know, that place where Jesus got baptized.

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The holy light in the Holy Land?

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So yes, to answer your question, also this place is scaringly close to those guys who wanna kill us so badly; Lebanon. Well, okay, they don’t wanna kill me cuz I am no Jew nor an Israeli. But before y’all start to freak out, the Israeli army protects us 24/7 and will never allow a bomb to destroy the holy land.

This is the other part of the park btw;

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… not as fairy like but still nice to go for a walk. That mountain in the back is Lebanon.

 

GAMLA NATURE RESERVE

The Gamla nature reserve is one of the several stunning national parks in the Golan Height. For more practical and political info on the Golan Heights, like if Golan is Syria or Israel, read this article.

What does Gamla have to offer? Ancient ruins on a rock that I like to call the Israeli Machu Picchu, a lookout point where you get the most beautiful view of the Golan + the Sea of Galilee, a waterfall, a lookout point where you can see birds of prey and… dolmens

To all the archaeology and prehistory fans, like myself, among us; yes, there are dolmens in the Middle East. No, I did not know about this before I came here and no, they are not more impressive than the ones in Europe. Nevertheless, I was still pleasantly surprised to see them, this little piece of prehistory made my day, together with the rest of the park obviously.

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Ruins
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The Israeli Machu Picchu
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Lookout point with the Sea of Galilee in the back
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A dolmen in the Middle East

 

SEA OF GALILEE

This is where Jesus walked on the water but I guess that’s not the reason why you’re going there. Indeed, the reason one goes to the Sea of Galilee, also Lake Tiberias or Kinneret in Hebrew, is because of the beaches and the beautiful sunsets (which is currently (mid-November) at 16:45 -.- ). Though we didn’t get to enjoy the sunset, instead, we got to see the sunrise, which is already at 6:10! Why did we get up so early on vacation?! Well… we went camping on the most popular public beach, which is also used as free camping spot, but in the middle of the night it started to rain and there was a thunderstorm. Of course our tent wasn’t waterproof so we took everything and went to the bathroom. And that’s the story of how we got to see the sunrise.

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After staying in the dirty uncomfortable bathroom and outside on the terrace, we decided to simply go back hom and explore the rest some other time. We did make a stop in Nazareth on the way, which you can read here.

 

 

 

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8 thoughts on “Discovering Northern Israel

  1. Gosh, Israel really is the gift that keeps on giving, isn’t it? Never ceases to amaze me the diversity and variety crammed into such a small country. Your posts are wonderful, and these photos are absolutely gorgeous! I’m not much of a camper, but you’ve 100% convinced me to do a trip up north with a tent when I return to Israel. Thank you so much for sharing!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know right?! Israel is sooooo small but has everything; 2 seas, a couple of lakes, mountains, forests, desert, archaeology and even a place where you can go skiing in winter lol.
      Thank you so much! I’m glad you like my pics and that I convinced you to go camping haha. I’m really not much into camping but if it means that I can see great things without selling my soul in order to pay for a hotel room, I won’t complain!

      Like

    1. I get that, many people are unsure about safety in this region – for a reason! – but it’s totally safe. The Israeli army is quite powerful and protects the area like its their baby.
      Before I met my Israeli boyfriend, I thought that Israel was pretty cheap! I was so wrong, it’s more expensive than Norway…

      Like

  2. Thank you for sharing such gorgeous destinations in Israel! I would love to visit them all. Like you said at the start of your post, I’ve heard of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and the Dead Sea, but all of these places were new to me. Again, thank you!

    Like

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