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Qatzrin and the Upper Nahal Zavitan

Duration:  Day
Difficulty:  Moderate, 8 Kilometres
Seasons:  Fall, Spring, Summer, Winter
Topographic Map Number:  1 - Hermon & Golan hights
Properties:  Round Trip, Water Dip, For Families, For experienced hikers
Coordinates:  (2153, 12636) / (35.7152, 32.9842)
Rating:  8.52
Updated at:  5/6/2014
Region:  Hermon & Golan Hights
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The page in Hebrew: 
The page in Russian: 
קצרין ונחל זויתן עליון
Кацрин и ручей Верхний Завитан



During the hot days of the summer, Nahal Zvitan [Zavitan stream] offers the soothing indulgence of its cool water pool. The stream, which carved its way through the basalt rock, received its name after the shape of its shafted angle canyon that flows to the Sea of Galilee
The level of difficulty of this non-circular route can fit to families with very experienced hikers. Note that although it crosses through an arid area of the Golan Heights, the pools and waterfall of the Zavitan are worth any effort, especially during the hottest summer months. For those who have an appetite for some history and archaeology, it is mostly recommended to start the route in visiting the old synagogue in Qatzrin and the Qatzrin Museum.


Arriving there

The route begins in the town Qatzerin, which can be accessed through Route 87 that ascends from Yehudiya Junction north to the Sea of Galilee.

And before actually starting with hiking please keep in mind that many areas of the Golan Heights are cover with mine fields, therefore leaving the marked footpaths or crossing fences are absolutely out of the question. In addition, it is highly advisable to take an updated footpath-marking map in which there are signs that mark these dangerous places.


Qatzrin

We shall start our route with the capital of the Golan - Qatzrin [1]. Qatzrin, which is a regional council, was built in 1977, and today some 7,200 inhabitants live there. Qatzrin offers urban services for the rural population of the surrounding settlements, and in fact, unlike most of the country's settlements, the city was completely designed from the beginning before it was built.

Two fabulous sites are recommended in Qatzrin: the firsts are the Talmudic Town and the Ancient Qatzrin Archeological Park [2], which are located in the eastern entrance of the town. Entering it entails some admission fee. Among other findings that were discovered in this area, the unique one is a synagogue from the time of the Mishnah and Talmud with an Aramaic inscription.  The design of the synagogue building is impressive with its monolith columns and huge gates. In the Talmud Experience at Ancient Qatzrin Park you could enjoy a nice audio-visual presentation, and see the many impressive findings, as for example some restored ancient residencies that were discovered during the excavations of the ancient village. Visiting is much recommended. Opening hours: Sun to Tues 08:00 AM -  05:00 PM; Fri and holidays 08:00 AM - 03:00 PM. Sat and holidays 10 AM - 4 PM. Tel. 04-696-2412.

The second interesting site is the Golan Antiquities Museum, which is located immediately in the city's center. The Museum displays a fascinating audio-visual presentation that tells the story of discovering Gamla, and allows the visitors to make their own coins in the shapes of coins that were discovered in Gamla.

The Museum web-site: http://www.museum.golan.org.il/emeyda.htm  Tel.: 04-696-1350; Opening hours: Sun - Tues 09:00 AM  - 04:00 PM; Fri and holidays 09:00 AM  - 02:00 PM.

More to see in the area: guided tours in the Golan Heights Winery. The Winery web-site: http://www.golanwines.co.il/default_eng.asp


How to Get to the Route

Between Qatzrin Junction [4] and the city of Qatzrin, on Route 87 (the road that ascends from Yehudiya Junction), there is a road – Route 9088. One kilometer [3280 feet] northwest to Qatzrin Junction, in the point where the road goes above a bridge of the Zaviatn stream, there is a parking lot from which the Upper Zavitan route starts [3]. This bridge is the starting point for taking the hiking route, and there is also a signpost that will direct you to the Upper Nahal Zavitan.

Park the second vehicle in Yehudiya Parking [8]. And the directions for arriving there are as follow: drive from the parking where you will start hiking, on Route 9088 in the direction of Qatzrin Junction [4], turn right (southward) on Route 87 and leave the second vehicle in Yehudiya Parking lot. Being a nature reserve, entering and exiting the reserve is not without an admission fee, which is paid in the counter of Yehudiya Parking.

Another slightly shorter and circular route that embraces only part of the stream, but includes the pools and waterfall is also described in this page. Since it mostly goes through dirt roads that lead and bring back from the stream, this itinerary is less beautiful. Cf. the short Ring-Route description at the end of this article.


The Upper Zavitan

After parking our car, we shall progress with the red footpath marking. The lavish vegetation that grows on both sides of the stream can be already detected from this point – the oleanders bushes, willows, lilac chaste tree, black barriers (holy bramble) and even menthe (yes, the herb we put in our tea).

Nahal Zavitan is the longest of the Golan Heights' streams, and one of the most beautiful among them. The Zavitan is one of the six perennial streams that descend to Beit Tzaida (Bethsaida) basin. The stream is called Zavitan [the angular one] on behalf of the extreme turns it takes while carving its way through the basalt rocks. Its length is 19 km [~12 miles], and this hiking route makes the most of its upper part. After this section, the stream digs its way through a gorge in a canyon called Hanekik Hashaor [The Black Gorge] in which hiking without rappelling gear and guide is impossible. After this gorge, the stream continues in a section called the Lower Zavitan, which include some impressive pools there. Further away from there, near Brekhat HaMeshushim (Hexagon Pools), the Zavitan and Nahal Meshushim are joined together and flow until they discharge their water to the Sea of Galilee in the Beit Tzaida basin.  The stream flows all year long through the black basalt rocks, which get extremely hot during summer, but its water is very cool, and this is undoubtedly one of the best and more splendid routes for the hot summer days.

After 1.5 km [0.932 mile] we will pass some beautiful pools in the riverbed, with inviting water that calls for a refreshing bathing, but the big attraction is yet to come. During springtime plenty flowers will surround our way: buttercups, crown anemones and during the end of March, the elegant hermona dinsms.

We will continue south along the footpath that goes along the west side of the stream. After not more than 2 km [1.24 miles], where the footpath cuts across a dirt road marked black in the footpath marking system, the path will take us to some marvelous deep pools [5], which are encompassed by perfectly formed six-sided and five-sided basalt columns.

The hexagons and pentagons are tokens of the rapid cooling of the lava flow. The Golan Height, which is in a matter of fact the result of a volcanic eruption, is young in geological terms. After flowing out of the volcanoes (which are called mounds today, as for example, the Bental, Avital, Tel Paras, and Hermonit), the lava had accumulated in the area between the Hermon from north and Nahal Yarmouk from south. Since it went through such a hastily cooling process, it was forged in the amazing hexagonal and pentagonal shapes we can see today.

We will continue our way from the water pool following the red footpath, and in this section, we may notice on the east side of the stream an old aqueduct.


The Zavitan Waterfall

The path will take us to a lookout point from which we could see the 28-meters [92 feet] deep Mapal Hanehoshet [The Copper Waterfall] [6], which is also known as the Zavitan Waterfall. The stream casts its water down into two deep and vast pools, and since we will have walked quite awhile and because of the hot weather, we will descend down to these pools where it is so perfectly good to swim. From the lookout point there is a marked footpath that leads down, with a ladder in one point that was installed there for helping us with the going down. Stopping in the pools is mostly recommended; just remember to leave the place clean!

We will return in climbing from the pools back to the lookout point, to the red footpath. We will continue with the red footpath along the eastern ridge of Nahal Zavitan's canyon until it will join with a path marked green in the footpath marking that turns to the east [7]. In this intersection, we will continue with the green footpath that will eventually take us to Yehudiya Camping Site.

In the camping [8] there are bathrooms which we might use for changing our wet clothes (in the absence of shower-rooms), but there is a coffee house, a souvenir shop and a superb information center.


Taking the Ring-Route

For taking this route, you should leave your vehicle in Sheikh Hussein parking lot in the compound of Yehudiya campsite [9]. For reaching there you must enter the camping, turn right with a dirt rode marked blue in the footpath marking. After parking, follow the path marked blue in the footpath marking for approximately 1 km [0.621 mile] until you'll meet with a ramification [10] in which you will turn right with a path marked black in the footpath marking. Walking an additional 2 km [1.24 mile] will bring you to the Zavitan stream where you will turn left with the red marking and after another 400 m [1,312 feet] you will meet with the lovely pools. For visiting the Zavitan Waterfall, continue an additional 1 km from the pool, and from there, head back to your vehicle (about 2.5 km [1.5 mile] with the blue footpath marking.

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The great pond
The great pond

Photo By: Yochai Corem
The great pond


 Ancient synagogue in Qatzrin
Ancient synagogue in Qatzrin

Photo By: Yochai Corem
Ancient synagogue in Qatzrin


Make your own coins in Qatzrin's Museum
Make your own coins in Qatzrin's Museum

Photo By: Yochai Corem
Make your own coins in Qatzrin's Museum


Nahal Zavitan near Qatzrin
Nahal Zavitan near Qatzrin

Photo By: Yochai Corem
Nahal Zavitan near Qatzrin


A small pond
A small pond

Photo By: Yochai Corem
A small pond


Black basalt rocks along the footpath
Black basalt rocks along the footpath

Photo By: Yochai Corem
Black basalt rocks along the footpath


View of Golan's heights
View of Golan's heights

Photo By: Yochai Corem
View of Golan's heights


Wading in the pool
Wading in the pool

Photo By: Yochai Corem
Wading in the pool


Down the waterfall
Down the waterfall

Photo By: Yochai Corem
Down the waterfall


The Zavitan Waterfall
The Zavitan Waterfall

Photo By: Yochai Corem
The Zavitan Waterfall