The Golan Heights have been “disputed territory,” according to the UN and most of the world, since Israel’s capture of them after being attacked by Egypt, Iraq, and Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967. This war was a defining moment in the history of the State, as it proved that they were in it for the long haul; not only did they push back their aggressors, but they captured the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt and the Golan Heights from Syria. And that’s where I went.
We took a four hour bus to the northernmost town in Israel, Kiryat Shmona. From there, we were mere miles from the Israel-Lebanon border. A prearranged cab took us 40 minutes east into the Golan, sweeping hills that are strewn with rocks and cut every few miles by perpendicular streams. The road into the Golan Heights are surrounded by a fence on both sides, as there are still live mines that have not been removed.
The “hostel” was stayed at was awesome (I’ll let the pictures show this); stars lit the sky and wind swept through the valley, carrying with it the echoes of a thousand voices long past. For a piece of land that has such a violent, recent history, it was incredibly calm and pastoral.
That afternoon, we explored a nearby castle, Nimrod’s Fortress (highly recommended by the locals and Lonely Planet). The fortress, built in the early 1200s, was erected to prevent people from the south from sweeping up the Heights and invading Damascus. We spent several hours taking in 360˚ views, especially when we crawled past the “Don’t Come Past This Sign!” sign.