Days Out in the Galilee & Golan

Hula Lake Bird Sanctuary

Israel is located on one of the main bird migration routes and is a paradise for bird watchers with several observatories along the migration route along the Great Syrian African Rift Valley (Road 90 in modern language) in the Upper Galilee.

The main observatory is on the Hula Lake (Agmon HaHula Reserve), once a large swamp that was dried in the early days of the State of Israel and flooded again when environmental awareness grew again. The Hula Lake is a main attraction site for locals and visitors hosting millions of birds in the migration seasons. In the last years the nature conservation authorities are even feeding the birds in order to avoid damage for the fishing industry in the area.

It is the best place to go bird-watching, so don’t forget your binoculars and cameras! The reserve is also one of the best in the world because of its location as a migration route for the birds that fly from Europe to Asia and Africa.

a flock of birds
Feeding migrating common crane in Hula Nature Reserve

Twice a year, about 390 species of migrating birds pass through and stop by in the reserve. They include water fowls, songbirds, and birds of prey. Apart from those feathered creatures, wildcats and water buffalos are also spotted in the area. It also boasts several different types of flora and fauna.

Over 500 million birds pass through the Hula Lake each year.

The critically endangered Hula painted frog (Latonia nigriventer), the only living member of the genusĀ Latonia, was sighted in the reserve in 2011. It had been classified as extinct by the IUCN in 1996 due to the swamp drainage in the area.

The Agmon HaHula has seasonal activities all year round and offers, night time and dawn activities. It also has some hiking trails, bike trails and a special safari wagon tour. It is a firm favorite with many visitors.

Chief points of interest, to name just a few:

  • The lake – the lake, only a small remaining fraction of the original and historic Hula Lake, is a significant attraction for water birds.
  • The marsh – the shallow area at the edge of the lake where water plants (papyrus and reed) grow.
  • Floating bridge – a 600-meter-long platform, built like a long covered bridge, which provides visitors a concealed observation over the lake.
  • Observation tower – a three-story tower where provide visitors a view of the lake and the marsh to observe the activities of the migrating birds who winter in the region.
  • The Euphoria Visitors Center – opened in 2006, the center provides visitors an interactive presentation of the reserve. The presentation features a 3D video, giving visitors an amazingly realistic viewing experience.

Agmon HaHula is located to the east of Road 90 just south of Koach Junction.

See also Rami’s Introduction to Bird Watching in Israel

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