Our tour will begin in Tiberias, see details on the Tiberias, Mount Meron & Safed tour page.
Our next destination will be the beautiful Golan Heights which has been only been a territory of the State of Israel since 1967!
Our first stop will be near the Syrian city, Quneitra, where we will enjoy a beautiful view and discuss the history of the presence of Jewish people in the Golan Heights since ancient times to today. We will also learn about the etymology of the name Golan and current relationship between Israel and Syria.
From there, we will move to one of the most interesting and exciting sites of the Golan Heights - The Gamla Nature Reserve. During the Second Temple Period, Gamla was a large fortified city located on a ridge between two gorges, reminiscent of a camel’s hump. Hence the name, Gamla, derived its name from gamal (or camel in Hebrew).
According to Jewish historian Josephus Flavius, Gamla was founded by the Hasmonean ruler Alexander Yannaeus in the 1st century BC and was continuously inhabited by Jewish people (Antiquities of the Jews 13:394). Josephus was Commander of Galilee during the Jewish revolt against Rome and Gamla was the main stronghold on the Golan Heights. The Romans were unsuccessful in their first attempt to capture the city but eventually stormed through the fortifications in 67 AD and slaughtered thousands of inhabitants. Others chose to jump to their deaths from the summit. At the end of the campaign, the city was in ruins and eventually forgotten.
The location of Gamla remained a mystery until1968 when Yitzhaki Gal was conducting a nature and landscape survey in the Golan Heights and noticed the topography resembled a camel’s hump and proposed it was the location of long lost Gamla. In 1976, massive excavations were conducted by the Israeli archaeologist, Shmarya Gutman, and the National Park was opened to visitors.
A walk of 1-2 hours along a dirt path is needed to view the site, appropriate for confident hikers who are able to tolerate uphill and downhill grades. Instead, if desired, a beautiful view of Gamla can be seen from the observation area. Nearby is the prey birds conservation station where we may spend time watching the wildlife.