The Hula valley in the Galilee used to be one giant swamp-lake about a century ago. It was dried up, as part of the mid-20th-century approach of “conquering nature” and making more room for agriculture. Fortunately, a small group of conservationists managed to generate enough public awareness so that a small portion of the lake has been preserved.
You can now visit this part, known as the Hula Nature Reserve, and view some of the wildlife up close. The visitors center has a lovely display of life in the lake as well as one of the best 4D (that’s 3D plus effects) shows in Israel, that takes you soaring up with the migrating birds that frequent the reserve.
There is a very easy-to-walk and wheelchair accessible path that goes right out of the visitors center and turns into a long bridge over the lake. In the right season, you get to see thousands of birds feeding in the lake, including cranes, storks and pelicans.
The water is literally teeming with catfish (you can feed them and see them get on top of each other for crumbs) and you usually see water tortoise in or above the water. Keep your eye open for the wild cattle (a local version of water buffaloes) around the reserve.
Our kids love this place – with its variety of activities. It takes about 2-3 hours to complete the tour and is a place I highly recommend as part of anyone’s tour of the Galilee.
If you come here during summer (May-October), be prepared for the heat. In fact, try and come in early, or late in the afternoon, so as not to walk the trail during the hot hours.
Open year around, 8 A.M.–4 P.M – but check out their websites for times during holidays.
More pictures from our visits to the Hula Nature Reserve: