Golan Heights: A winter wonderland for Israelis
Secret getting out about hot springs at the foot of dormant Mount Bental volcano
Israelis have options for how to enjoy the winter months in the Golan Heights, ranging from the fresh snow in the Mount Hermon slopes or one of the most guarded secrets — the hot springs at the foot of the dormant Mount Bental volcano.
"It's so much fun. You don't feel the rain in the water. Suffering comes as you get out," a bather told i24NEWS reporter Pierre Klochendler.
"Amazing. Even in the cold rain I warmly recommend it," another Israeli enjoying the thermal baths told Klochendler.
The water temperature can reach a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
It is the most closely guarded secret in the Golan Heights. Even the Israelis enjoying the warm waters on a cold and rainy day in the far northeastern part of the country couldn't tell Klochendler how they found it.
"Ein li musag (I don't know)," said one reveler.
"Google it. Everyone knows," said a man whose wife was enjoying the water reservoir.
The Druze, the area's original inhabitants, know the source, with a Druze man telling i24NEWS that the source is the Shamir Drilling Project, near Kibbutz Shamir in the Hula Valley, which exposed a subterranean hydrothermal spring that pipes in the hot water.
Skiing in Israel?
A mere 20-minute drive from the hot springs is a different world — the Mount Hermon ski resort.
"It's freezing and I can't feel my toes," a young girl on the slopes said.
"It was the best day ever," said a boy.
Klochendler even ran into a group of observant Jews in the winter wonderland praying toward Jerusalem.
The Mount Hermon ski resort is open at the peak of winter when enough snow is on the ground and has a top elevation of 6,690 feet and a base elevation of 5,200 feet.
There are around 28 miles spread out for the enjoyment of skiers and snowboarders.