Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Golan Heights #2 - The Yurt

Plenty of room in the yurt for gymnastics on a springy wooden floor.
After a previous camping experience I only agreed to this trip if we had beds. So a yurt in the Golan was booked with six beds. It also had a non-yurt extension built onto the side with a small kitchen and a separate, even smaller, bathroom. We loved our little home for two nights.

The yurt was in a small village and after our showers in the evenings, one friend and I walked round the country lanes rating looking at the different cottages and deciding which one we would like to live in.

It was very idyllic for two nights but I think I'm probably more suited to [small] town living for the long haul. I like people and cafes, entertainment, shopping, and a bit of hustle and bustle.

Ma'ayanot. They didn't look contaminated....
We didn't just sit around the yurt for two days, of course not. The next morning saw us off bright and early to an adventure centre where the kids could go-kart, peddle-kart, trampoline, zip-line, trolley board (like snow boarding but on a dry slope), and ride on a jeep through a mini-safari. I should be in PR - the mini-safari was a spread out petting zoo and the zip line was only three metres off the ground, LOL. But they had fun and that's what counts. Also there was no Sergeant-Major at this activity.

After a picnic lunch in which DD discovered that she likes an omelet in a bread roll, we went in search of some mountain springs and pools. Btw, omelet sandwiches are perfectly normal here. It's a very Israeli thing and, yes, the omelet is cold.

Chocolate-making workshop
I need to explain about the mountain springs and pools (ma'ayanot in Hebrew). There has been a health scare in the Golan whereby some of the ma'ayanot have become contaminated with a rodent borne bacteria due to the many years of drought in the region. Apparently when the rest of the country gets torrential rain in the winter, the Golan doesn't. This means that things are not washed away as they should be. This summer over 60 people have come down with a life-threatening flu-like illness that can damage the kidneys, up to three weeks after frolicking in the streams.

There was a list of which pools to avoid and many were physically closed off to the public. We found one that wasn't on the list and very open to the public with lots of locals enjoying the cool waters. I wasn't happy about going into any ma'ayanot - why take the chance. However, I wasn't strong enough in my objection and we went. The kids loved it. The next day these pools were added to the list so we're on alert for flu-like symptoms for the next two weeks. *sigh*

The Sea of Galilee. 
And on to the next. A boutique chocolate factory where the kids went on a tour and then did a chocolate making workshop. Thankfully they only needed one adult with them and one of our adults is a chocolate maker herself so there was no contest. I got to sit in the coffee shop and relax with our other adult.

We ate dinner in Katsrin, one of the two towns on the Golan, and then the long drive home to our yurt to shower, stroll, and bed. I say it was a long drive but actually, the Golan is quite a small area of land. It just feels like a vast expanse because it's a plateau of volcanic rock with big skies and rough, wild terrain with hardly anything man-made in it. (South Africans always talk about missing the big skies when they move to the UK. I never understood what they meant before but now I do.) The Golan is very different from the rest of Israel, considering how close everything is (you can drive the length of the country on one day). The Waze kept saying we were only 20 minutes from our destination whereas the map and the scenery looked like we were heading into Syria. Had we not seen some very welcome signs in Hebrew every so often, we would have been nervous that we had crossed the border by accident.

Our final day was spent by and in the Sea of Galilee on the way home. I don't know why they call it a sea. You can see the other side. Lake Geneva is apparently the biggest body of water in Europe and it's 580 km sq. I just googled the Galilee and it's only 167 km sq. Despite the click-bait name, it was the perfect end to a short but full holiday on the Golan Heights.


  1. A Yurt! Some friends and I have always wanted to camp in a yurt and I love when they have been on display at the yearly Cottage Life show! A few of the national parks have now started offering them as a camping option so maybe I will get to finally sleep in one.
    That's a bit worrying about the pool and flu situation - hope you both stay well. We've had issues with our beaches being safe this Summer as we've had such heavy rains - if swimming is safe then a blue flag is posted. But it takes a brave soul to swim in Lake Ontario because it tends to be freezing cold even in the summer because it is so large. Info as follows:
    Lake Ontario - Wikipedia
    Lake Ontario is the easternmost of the Great Lakes and the smallest in surface area (7,340 sq mi, 18,960 km2), although it exceeds Lake Erie in volume (393 cu mi, 1,639 km3). It is the 14th largest lake in the world. When its islands are included, the lake has a shoreline that is 712 miles (1,146 km) long.
    Average depth‎: ‎283 ft (86 m) Location‎: ‎North America
    Shore length1‎: ‎634 mi (1,020 km) ... Surface area‎: ‎7,340 sq mi (19,000 km2)
    You can drive from Niagara Falls to Kingston, Ontario (4 1/2 hr highway driving) and it's all the same body of water! I've had visitors from the UK who could not believe that it wasn't the ocean rather than a lake.

    1. Hahaha, I think the Galilee has delusions of grandeur. It's a mere puddle compared to the Great Lakes of North America.

  2. You clearly had a lovely break and, even more importantly, so did DD. . I hope that you enjoy the short time before the new academic year starts all over again.

    1. I feel the new year coming. I'm already preparing lessons and courses. :(

  3. What a beautiful place to stay!! I love the yurt, so beautiful- camping with beds, the only kind of camping I agree to these days! :D How grown up is DD too? :) x

    1. Yes, I noticed how much shorter she was in the post about our camping trip four years ago. Now she's above my shoulder!

  4. sounds wonderful. i used to love doing those trips with the kids

    1. Tbh, I'm not rushing back. I feel we've done the Golan now and I'd like a nice hotel next time. LOL.