Cascading waterfalls, bubbling hot springs and gurgling brooks – these water hikes fly in the face of Israel’s depiction as a drought-ridden desert
At over 40 meters, Jilabun Falls are the second highest in the Golan Heights after the Gamla waterfall. Follow the red markings down to the stream until you reach the canyon that takes you through to the Devora waterfall. If you walk along the stream you’ll hit the Jilabun Falls after 1.5 kilometers. If you’re feeling up to it, divert from the red trail at Hurbat Devora and join the more challenging blue trail. For some history, make a short pit stop at the ancient synagogue in Kfar Devora.
How to get there: From Highway 90 (Tiberius – Kiryat Shmona) turn east at the Machanayim Junction and follow signs to Nahal Jilabun
Ein Gedi Nature Reserve
A list of water hikes in Israel wouldn’t be complete without mention of the spectacular Ein Gedi nature reserve. There are a total of nine different trails which vary in levels of difficulty. Wadi David is the most popular, providing relatively easy access to David’s Waterfall after about an hour’s hike. For a challenge, continue to Ein Gedi Spring. Be prepared for bit of climbing, but nothing too serious. Don’t forget to stop for a dip in the pools along the way, or to take in dramatic views of the Dead Sea below you.
Level: Easy – Moderate
How to get there: Head on Route 1 from Jerusalem towards the Dead Sea. Turn onto Route 90 at the Arava Junction for 40 minutes until you come to signs for Ein Gedi on your right.
Nahal Yehudia is one of Israel’s most popular water hikes. Located in the Golan Heights, Yehudia has eleven separate trails to choose from. Some of the upper trails are best suited for strong hikers who can swim. Be prepared to shimmy down a rock-face and wade through streams, eventually reaching the 20-meter-high falls themselves.
Level: Easy – Difficult (varies by trail)
How to get there: Take Route 87 past Katsrin for about 7km until you reach a sharp turn at the Yehudia Junction.
Ein Maboa (Ein Fawwar)
A 25-minute drive from Jerusalem in the direction of the Dead Sea, Ein Maboa is a hidden gem where you can take a short 1 or 2 km hike around the spring in the stunning desert mountains of Wadi Qelt. This particular spring is known to be refreshingly cold – perfect for a sultry summer day. Because the source of the pool’s water flows in a kind of U-turn from a cave hewn of limestone, the water disappears and refills. For this reason, the pool is known by locals as “Ein Hameshuga” or the crazy spring.
How to get there: Take Route 1 from Jerusalem toward the Dead Sea. Turn left at Route 458 (Alon Road) and head north to Ein Maboa. Follow the signs and park on the side of the road at the stream’s entrance.
This 2 km circular hike in the Golan Heights is family-friendly. However, parts of the hike have no shade at all so it’s probably best to wait until the later hours of the day. Despite being close to the road, the hike itself gives the impression of total isolation thanks to the lack of people and desert fauna along the trail. Head towards Pik Ruins and begin your descent towards the refreshing spring below. You’ll traverse lush jungle-esque flora replete with lovely almond, olive, fig and pomegranate trees.
How to get there: Turn right at Afek Junction onto Route 98. Continue for about 1km and turn west when you see the brown signage pointing the way to the Pik Ruins. Park your car on the side of the road.