In one of the Saturdays of September we planned on meeting friends in Ramat Hagolan. We knew we wanted to hike, but there were 2 limitations: First the weather which is still hot in this time of year, and second our friends that have twins which are less than 3 years old, so a long walk was not suitable. We decided to visit 2 sites, which are both interesting for the bigger children, without long walks, and with a decent driving distance between them: The Bental Mountain and the Big Juba.

Bental Mountain – the mountain is a part of an extinct volcano in northeast Ramat Hagolan. Its summit is 1171m high and it resides to the west of the Syrian city Quneitra. At its foot is the kibbutz of Marom Golan. A visitors center of the Golan regional council, as well as an unused IDF post and an automatic information station is located in its summit. The IDF post contains a communication channel and an underground bunker. It was once possible to enter the bunker but today it is closed. The summit has a lovely observation post over Syria, mount Hermon and Ramat Hagolan. During the visit we could hear very well shootings of varied artillery from Syria because of the civil war. We also met 2 Austrian soldiers that are appended to the UN and are now posted at Ramat Hagolan, but some of their friends serve in Syria. One of the soldiers told us he has been serving here for a long time. In the past he served in Syria when the situation was better, but now he is happy to be in the other side of the border – Israel. After the visit the kids became hungry and we felt it was time to have coffee and food in the coffeehouse of “Coffee Anan”, located next to the post. On the way from the car to the summit you go by the steel statues of Joop de Jong, a member of kibbutz Marom Golan. Next to the parking place is a Druze stand. The seller, which lives in Mas’ade village, told us he once was a teacher but now he is making and selling goods. We bought cherry honey with tehina, labaneh balls and apples and we enjoyed ourselves with them at home for days.

From the Bental mountain we drove 15 minutes north to the Big Juba which is located in Odem forest. The forest of Odem is a natural oak forest which a volcanic phenomena called juba was discovered inside of it. The word “juba” originates in the Arabic language and literally means hole. The route to the juba is a short circular path starting at a parking lot. The juba itself is a small crater. Its diameter is 250m and its depth is 60m. Inside the juba a thick flora grows. There are 2 common theories as to how the jubas and the big juba were created. The first theory suggests that volcanic gas emitted from the depth and caused a lava-free explosion. The other theory suggests that water penetrated the underground layer and created spaces inside the rocks. Over time the ceiling above these spaces collapsed and a dent was created. The route takes the travelers to the edge of the juba. The path is organized and because there are a lot of trees nearby you can relax in the shade. The pleasant weather allowed us to chat while the kids ran around. After that, we drove to the Mas’ade village nearby and we had a great lunch at the Shalom restaurant. There are many restaurants serving falafel, salads, hummus, labaneh and meats in the main street of the village. It also has bakery shops where you can buy baklava and kanafeh. Nili bought two packs filled with the shop’s best products to share with our friends that visited us after the trip. In the rest of the week we had a lot of delicious and good taste left from the trip.

By Nili Hess Ashkenazi,Israel.

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