We will begin our day at the first of two nature reserves where we will take walking tours. Tel Dan Nature Reserve is a natural wonder of lush vegetation, mature trees and abundant streams fed by springs.
Underneath the canopy of trees, we will take a refreshing walk on paved, level paths of the reserve and discuss plants and animal life of the area. You will see the pristine Dan Spring which is fed by melting snow and ice from Mount Hermon, the highest mountain in the Land (2814 m / 9229 ft) and the source of the Jordan River. Of three tributaries which feed the Jordan River, Dan Stream is the largest and gushes more than 660 billion gallons of water annually.
As well as beautiful natural scenery, Tel Dan is one of the largest antiquities mound in Israel. We will see Abraham’s Gate built entirely of mud bricks from the Canaanite period. Ruins of Dan are also visible including a portion of the outer wall, a plaza and an alter at the entrance of the city which dates from the Iron Age (860-850 BC). (The walking tour will take about 1.5 hours, mostly in the shade)
Our next walking tour is the Banias Nature Reserve. It is also known as Caesarea Philippi because the city was founded by King Herod’s son, Philip in 2 BC.
This walk is more challenging and appropriate for those who are physically fit due to paths with uneven terrain and steps. The reserve is full of natural beauty with trees and vegetation.
We will walk down the steps to see the Banias Stream (Hermon Stream in Hebrew), another of the three tributaries feeding the Jordan river. We will see one of the largest waterfalls in Israel. Because the water is a chilly 58 degrees year-round, entry into the water is not permitted.
We will walk for about an hour on a path with hills along the beautiful banks of the river with many interesting things to see along the way. Our reward awaits us at the end of the walk where we will see the archaeological ruins of the Greco-Roman city (polis) Caesarea Philippi. Here are the remains of King Herod Agrippa's palace and Herod's temple which was dedicated to Zeus. The ruins of the Sanctuary of Pan are stunning and built into the stone of Mount Hermon. On this site, pagan worship, rituals and sacrifices were performed to Pan, a half goat-half man deity.