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Exploring the Back Roads of Israel: Banias Nature Reserve.

Updated on November 27, 2016
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Randi was born and raised in the USA but she spent 12 years living, working and traveling in beautiful Israel.

And this picture doesn't even do it justice!
And this picture doesn't even do it justice! | Source

The Best Vacation Ever.

To stand in a place so steeped in history. To walk among archaeological treasures that originally served as mundane household tools. To feel the lives that were lived in the very same spot, only thousands of years before. That was what made, Banias, the vacation that every other vacation before and since have been measured on. Visiting the Banias National Park in The Golan Heights, Israel was, undoubtedly for me: The. Best. Vacation. Spot. Ever.

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Banias National Park.Bznias Spring ruins.It is amazing to contemplate those that were here before us.The Banias spring.Tools for grain.
Banias National Park.
Banias National Park. | Source
Bznias Spring ruins.
Bznias Spring ruins. | Source
It is amazing to contemplate those that were here before us.
It is amazing to contemplate those that were here before us. | Source
The Banias spring.
The Banias spring. | Source
Tools for grain.
Tools for grain. | Source

The remains of the city of Banias.

Banias is an archeological site located at the base of Mount Hermon in Golan Heights, Israel by the ancient city of Caesaria Phillipi. It was first settled in the Hellenistic period. Excavations uncovered evidence of a cult center dedicated to the G-d Pan. In fact, it was originally called Paneas in Greek. This was built in several phases during the Roman period. There is a grotto, a temple, a courtyard with built in niches that it is belived held statues for rituals. This was all built around a forest, with a cave and a spring. To read more about this area rich in history, please visit The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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Living simply.

The simplicity of this trip allowed us to truly enjoy the nature that surrounded us. We stayed in rented cabins that offered us clean, comfortable accommodations but didn't take away from what we came there for, to be one with the nature that surrounded us. On this trip, the only shopping we did was when we stopped to refuel.

White water rafting.

There are so many things to do while in the north of Israel including hiking and boating. On our first day there, we went white water rafting. What a beautiful view of the mountain of the mountain we were treated to as we forged our way through the river! The course was challenging at times and almost like a 'lazy river ride' the rest of the time. While the fast and furious was fun and exhilarating, the view and fresh air were not just to catch our breath, they also took it away!

White water rafting on the River Jordan.
White water rafting on the River Jordan. | Source

Hiking in the Golan Heights

There is a multitude of beautiful places to hike in and around the four aechaelogical sites in the north of Israel. We took our hike near Banias were we treated to a panafamic view if the city. I also recommend the Odem Forest, home of a deer reserve. It is very near to Rajum Al-Hiri (Circle of Ghosts). It is a Megalithic structure that scientists believe was built around 5000 years ago either as an ancient burial ground, rituals or an astronomy observatory

Four archaelogical sites in the north of Israel

What
Where
Offers
Banias
Caesaria
visit the archaelogical sites
Gamla
Western Golan Heights
bird watching, Griffon Vultures
Katsrin
Western Golan Heights
Katsrin antiquities park, stores and restaurants
Bet Tsida
Less thn one kiolometer from the Sea of Galilee.
Birthplace of Apostales, Peter, Andrew and Phillip
Aside from the the archaelogical findings, all of these places have significant religious history. It was in Bet Tsida that Jesus performed the "miracle of the fish and loaves"
The city of Cesaria is rich in historical archaeology.
The city of Cesaria is rich in historical archaeology. | Source

Whatever happens in Caesaria Phillipi, stays in Caesaria!

It is said to be the birthplace of the G-d Pan. It was built at the spring in Banias and if it still existed today, it would be likened to Las Vegas , Sin City, only much worse. It is believed to be the home of many Pagan rituals and was not espoused by the orthodox rabbis.

Exraordinary views abound in the Golan Heights.
Exraordinary views abound in the Golan Heights. | Source

Golan Heights

Rest assured, there is much to do in beautiful Northern Israel. Mount Hermon is also popular for snow skiing in season. If you get tired of hiking, you can always shop in any number of malls or visit a beautiful open air market. When you are touring Israel, be sure to stop and buy some unique treasures to bring home!

A beautiful view of the mountain.
A beautiful view of the mountain. | Source

© 2013 Randi Benlulu

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    • btrbell profile image
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      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you do much, LadyFiddler! It is indeed amazing! Do check with any church programs. They often have reduced rates. It's still expensive but at least you would have a guided tour. I appreciate your visit! :-)

    • LadyFiddler profile image

      Joanna Chandler 3 years ago from On planet Earth

      Ahhh very beautiful i am sorry i could not be on this trip with you lol. I would love to go to Israel . It's a costly trip but i believe its worth it just to walk where the Messiah once walked etc I'd be delighted to see all the historical sites etc.

      Beautiful pictures :)

      Thanks much for sharing

    • btrbell profile image
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      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, ziyena! It is special!

    • ziyena profile image

      ziyena 3 years ago from ... Somewhere Out There ...

      If I had the slightest chance I would definitely go! Amazing sites to be seen ... I think I would especially like to visit the Caesaria Phillipi remains in Banias. I have a thing for Hellenistic history. Thanks for the wonderful exploration of the backroads of Israel! Going UP

    • btrbell profile image
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      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you so much, Glimmer Twin Fan! All of Israel is definitely a worthy trip with so many beautiful places!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 3 years ago

      This looks beautiful and fascinating btrbell. I love visiting places that have so many different things to see and do. Now I'll be dreaming of another trip.

    • btrbell profile image
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      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, CraftytotheCore! It was a beautiful trip and having been a resident of Israel for 12 years, I highly recommend a trip there!

    • btrbell profile image
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      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Chris, Israel is a pretty cool place. When I first went there, I remember someone telling me that it was the only place that had almost all of the natural wonders under one roof. I have never forgotten that! Thanks for stopping by! I hope all is good with you!

    • btrbell profile image
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      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you so much, Jamie! It was amazing!

    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      My husband would love to go to Israel some day. What a lovely Hub. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 3 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Randi, How exciting. That is my kind of vacation...Hiking and archaeology. White water rafting on the Jordan River? Snow skiing in Israel? A Pan statue in Caesarea Philippi? These are things I've never known about Israel. Thanks for the fun information.

    • jhamann profile image

      Jamie Lee Hamann 3 years ago from Reno NV

      This looks like the perfect vacation! What a well written travel hub with great photographs. Jamie

    • btrbell profile image
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      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you so much, Valleypoet!

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      Valleypoet 3 years ago

      What a beautiful place...a great hub with some amazing pictures:-))

    • btrbell profile image
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      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you so much, Carol!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 3 years ago from Arizona

      This was so interesting to learn about.. Beautiful photos..As always Randi you are a great writer.

    • btrbell profile image
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      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Ah, Maria! You are way too kind! I wish I could take credit for these amazing photos. I can only take credit for the beautiful memories.

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      drbj, it was amazing! Interestingly, I was reminded of this trip when we went to Tonto Natural Bridge last month. We were standing by the waterfall there and I had such s string memory of Banias. 2 amazing places!

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 3 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Such a beautiful, tranquil and lush area...Thank you, Randi, for this breathtaking virtual getaway.

      Your writing style and exquisite photography is a glorious combination.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 3 years ago from south Florida

      What a fascinating description of a fascinating vacation, Randi. I can easily understand why this trip was one of your favorites.

    • btrbell profile image
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      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Pamela! As I mentioned in the hub, it was the best vacation spot ever! Beautiful and interesting!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

      Your trip to Israel sounds fantastic and I would love to go there. I never associated white-water rafting with Israel but why not? Your descriptions were wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed your hub.

    • btrbell profile image
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      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, prasetio! Much appreciated!

    • btrbell profile image
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      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Flourishanyway! It's funny how often our notions of a place are very different from the reality! I would like to write more like this and hope I can visit more places so that I can!

    • btrbell profile image
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      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Frank! Thank you so much. Israel is a great place to put on your bucket list!

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 3 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Wow....beautiful places. I had never know that Israel so beautiful. Good review and I really enjoy all the pictures. Thanks or sharing with us. Voted up :-)

      Prasetio

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      What a beautiful hub and surprising, too, as I never would have associated white water rafting and Israel? Fabulous. I hope you do more of these.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

      btrbell thank you so much for this virtual hub tour I enjoyed the visit here hopefully will make it a bucketlist item :)

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you so much, torrilynn! The Bahamas definitely are amazing! I truly enjoy the differences when I travel. I find them exotic and sometimes, a little decadent!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Oh, Jackie, I do hope you can see it before your spirit life, but if not, your spirit life will love it! Take care!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you so much, Sally! Please see my comment to Faith. It is pretty different there. My son just told me that there is an extraordinary amount of people immigrating from Paris to Israel, currently. I'm glad our hubs are linked together! Take care!

    • btrbell profile image
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      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Faith! Israel is, actually, all about the beaches. There is the Dead Sea, the Red Sea, The Mediteranian, the Jordan River, the Kinneret. It is a crazy combination of desert and ocean! If you are able, Israel is an amazing place to visit and reap faith! Thank you so much for the votes and share! Happy Thanksgiving!

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 3 years ago

      it seems like such a lovely place. I've visited the Bahamas recently and I thought that it was simply amazing. nice photos. thank your for the information.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I am sure in this life I will never be there but certainly hope in my spirit one I will get to flit through there quite often. Beautiful hub, thanks for sharing.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      btrbell - Wow that really ooks wonderful - I have always thought of Israel as being somewhere really dry. I never once thought about rafting down any rapids. Think I should think about this as a destination for a holiday.

      I have added a link on my own Exploring-the-Back-Roads-of-Paris

      Thank you.

      Best wishes

      Sally

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Hi Randi,

      Thank you for taking us along the back roads to Banias! What a lovely place. I would have never thought of white-water rafting either for some reason in Israel. I would love to visit one day.

      Up and more and sharing.

      Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours,

      Faith Reaper

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Bill! It was amazing! It was quite awhile back but when we visited the Tonto Natural Bridge, it was almost Deja Vu! Hsappy Thanksgiving!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Isn't it interesting...I would have never thought of white-water rafting in Israel. How fascinating and what a wonderful place to visit. Thank you for this tour and thank you for adding to this series. I appreciate it and I'm sure anyone who reads this will love it.

      Happy Thanksgiving Randi!