The periodic visit to the Hula Lake Park.

Every year we visit The Agamon Hula Tourism Park in the Upper Galilee at least twice. First, the place is very interesting to visit; one can see different things in each of the seasons, and second, the park is close to where we live, which makes it an ideal destination when we want to stay nearby. That is what we did this past Saturday. The weather forecast warned of rain, but we woke up to a beautiful Saturday (the rain only arrived late afternoon) and decided the season is ideal for a visit of the lake. The lake is an artificial one, and is located in the Hula Valley. Originally, the place was a swamp until the 1950’s, at which time it was drained. In the 1990’s the same territory was re- flooded as part of a restoration project. Today, the lake constitutes a major stopover for many different migratory birds, which fly over the Syrian-African Rift Valley from Europe to Africa. Some choose to pass the winter months in the lake and not continue their journey to Africa. Early November is a time in which migrating birds often frequent the lake.

During our visit, not only a multitude of birds visited the place, but also a multitude of visitors. There is an 8.5-kilometer trail around the lake, which gives access to different parts of it and allows for flora and fauna observation. One can tour the park in many ways: personal or family bicycles are available for renting, as well as golf carts. There are also organized tours using ‘Safari Wagons’. We have toured in safari wagons twice in the past, in different seasons and different parts of the day. The tour is in a wagon hitched to a tractor, during which one enters areas that are off limits otherwise, and it allows close observation of the park’s wildlife. We felt like National Geographic field photographers- the tour is highly recommended. It also requires pre- registration.

Hula Lake Park (Agamon)

Hula Lake Park (Agamon)

Hula Lake Park (Agamon)

Hula Lake Park (Agamon)

The vehicles can be rented at the entrance and are subjected to a time limit. This time we rented a golf cart. A cart of four costs 199NIS and is limited for an hour and a half. In addition, every visitor over the age of three pays 5NIS toward the Crane Feeding Project- the park rangers spread out corn kernels across the park to keep the cranes from feeding off agricultural fields in the area. The trail around the lake has several stops: a botanic garden in which one can stop and tour, three bird lookouts, and many spots along the trail feature JNF tables where you can stop and picnic. It’s important to equip oneself with water prior to departure, since there are no drinking fountains around the lake. As mentioned, we rented a golf cart and set out around the lake.

Hula Lake Park (Agamon)

Hula Lake Park (Agamon)

Since we frequent the place quite often, we decided not to rush, and to enjoy whatever we were able to see. We visited the botanic garden and the water- bird observatory, and took our time alone the route: Noa held the camera and was very enthusiastic a photographer. We stopped at different points along the route so that she could photograph a Coypu coming out of the water, two Spur-winged lapwings hopping together, donkeys standing by the bridges, etc. The weather was lovely; there were many Cranes in the fields around the lake, and we enjoyed the beauty the park has to offer. As I previously said, this Saturday saw many visitors to the park and the trail felt a little crowded. Additionally, we were happy for deciding to arrive early: by the time we finished our visit, people had to wait for about an hour for a golf cart.

Hula Lake Park (Agamon)

Hula Lake Park (Agamon)

Hula Lake Park (Agamon)

Hula Lake Park (Agamon)

Hula Lake Park (Agamon)

Hula Lake Park (Agamon)

There is a visitor center at the park entrance, where you can watch a film about the story of the lake. The visitor center has a gift shop where you can buy souvenirs and travel gear, a kiosk, and bathrooms, and there is a stall between the parking lot and the visitor center where you can buy Druze Pitas, Labane cheese, olives, and more.

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