Golan Heights ATV Tour: Discover the Delights

Being the type of driver who clutches the steering wheel with fear, you can imagine the wary glance I cast over the ATV that sat waiting. It was a sultry day in the mountains of Golan Heights, the very spot where Jesus was said to have fed the five thousand, the mountains shimmering in that rare haze you get in the sleepy spring of Israel.

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I had traversed many great sights on my trip so far, from the bronzed beaches of Tel Aviv to the throb of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, the lavender fields perched high above the Sea of Galilea, and the fragrant spice markets of Jaffa. Now I was going to tackle the mountains, the dusty golden hills that bordered Syria – on a Golan Heights ATV tour.

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Flying down dirt roads, carving the paths that cut through orchards and feeling the sun on my back and the dirt in my mouth I felt every ounce of joy tremble in my bones. There is something humbling about being in the place where these great stories were set. Our guide took us through the mise en scene of plummeting hills, beside ribboned waters where young boys paddled their feet in the river to escape the midday sun and into the edges of forests where wild boars snuffled and shrieked in the shadow lands.

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The ATV didn’t pause for a breath as we tackled boulders the size of footballs and rolled through low-lying lakes, swamps, and streams. A lonely cow and her calf stopped to stare as we razzed past the crumbling shepherd homes going even higher into the mountains.

Stopping in the cool of a vale our guide took us across stepping stones and into a small clearing where crabs disguised themselves as rocks in the clear cool waters. A little higher up and we stop again to scramble down a rocky ridge where a cave yawns in the side of the cliff, damp and cool.

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Gazing out across the carved mirage of hills fleshed out in golds and greens, seeing distant waters sparkle and watching the white wisps of clouds drift aimlessly across the arced blue sky, this was a far cry from the arid desert and sandstone squat buildings that I had imagined of Israel.

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A short sharp reminder seemed to blur the lines of perfection when we climbed a steep hill, surrounding us were meadows of gold, the sweet honey of jacaranda trees and dragonflies that paused for a moment to inspect you before trilling away in the clean mountain air.

Yet the scene was marred by a tangled barb wire fence blaring with yellow signs telling you to watch out for scattered mines left from the war with Syria. Those images of war-torn lands come flooding back, if only for a second and then are blocked out by the supreme peace of a bird calling close by, the ripple of heat rising from the single highway I can see stretched out in the distance and the fact that I am lost in Israel.

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Racing back there was one final vision that is sure to stay burnt on my memory for the rest of time, passing through the woven cloak of farmers’ fields the irrigation systems flowed with water casting rainbows dancing. A baker’s dozen of storks fanned their feathers, soaked to the bone as they cooled off from the thick heat…a vision of pure loveliness.

All Images’ Source: www.orkaplan.com

Big thanks to the lovely people at Vibe Israel for inviting me to enjoy the bounty of their beautiful country. Vibe Israel is a non profit and non political organization, find out more at www.vibeisrael.com 

Jodie Oakes

Jodie Oakes

Jodie Oakes is a seasoned writer and an avid surfer with continuously itchy feet and a love of the finer things in life. After traveling through the continent with a touring band, living in Paris, Amsterdam and under the Auroras Borealis, she is now in Bulgaria where she attempts to piece together her first poetry collection.
Jodie Oakes