After an enjoyable evening in our mountain cabins, we went to the place that was the impetuous for this entire trip, the Banias Nature Preserve. Described as “one of the most stunning parts of the entire country, “along side the Old City in Jerusalem and the beaches of Tel Aviv, this national park is dear to many Israelis (also evident by how crowded it was!), the park really was awesome.
Interestingly, this huge parcel of land has many sets of ruins, though none of the groups that settled here lived contemporaneously. At the entrance, there is a large cave and carvings into the cliffs from a group thousands of years ago that worshiped Pan, the Greek god of nymphs, shepherds, and the mystic mountain wilds. Further inside are ruins from the Romans, and then from the Crusaders, and finally from the Syrians (some as recent as 1967).
However, the main draw of Banias is its extensive hiking along a tributary of the Jordan River. We often times (again) ventured off the marked trail, creating our own adventure as we went. One time we lowered outselves from the rocky trail into the stream using jagged rocks and vines to guide our descent. We hopped from stone to stone with only the gentle murmur of dragonflies whispering the tacit arrival of spring. However, the defining feature of this treasured park is the majestic ten-story waterfall that is the end point for the trails in the park.