The third leg of the day’s adventures in the Golan with Boruch Len: Mount Bental. Following our fun back at Nimrod Fortress and the waterfalls of Banias and Sa’ar, we turned South and drove through some Druze and Jewish villages. We spotted the wind turbines which have now become a sort of landmark in that area of the Golan. At one point we stopped the car and got out to capture pictures of the majestic Mount Hermon, Israel’s highest peak. Here is my shot:
The drive up the mountain was far shorter than I had thought it would be and before long we were just minutes away from Coffee Anan (which really means both Kofi Annan the UN Secretary-General and “Coffee [of the] Clouds” – I don’t know if they had both in mind when naming the cafe). Along the way there were some interesting Dutch sculptures of welded metal and a section of a bunker. On the peak of the mountain we had an incredible view of the whole Golan from Mt. Hermon (which had gotten an inconvenient cloud-wrapping during our ascent) to the Hula Valley to the Israeli-Syrian frontier. Here is a panoramic shot of the valley area stretching out to Syria (click to enlarge, as always):
Mount Bental was the site of an important battle when conquering the Golan from the Syrian forces. Today, the bunkers atop the mountain have been mostly cleared out but are accessible to all. We ventured on in, glad to be wielding flashlights, and had a look around the deep old bunker. I was really fascinated by the bunker’s corridor walls which are strikingly similar to those in the Israeli movie Beaufort which was actually filmed at the Nimrod Fortress.
There is nothing cooler than walking through something that has been definitively used in a war for Israeli freedom – I just love it! And to see the bare wooden beds still left inside… and the old batteries left behind… and the old communication equipment – fascinating! When we emerged on the other side of the bunker area we saw these metal soldier silhouettes, a 2D representation and reminder of what this mountain once was and what significance it held:
So after we absorbed the blood and tears of history we waited a short while for the clouds to pass over Mt. Hermon. But they were stubborn and thick and refused to leave, so we left instead. We drove to the far side of the mountain-top parking lot and rejoiced in the setting sun. When the clouds permitted us, we tried doing trick photography but the wind was also out to get us. As I would pose I would be blown over by the fierce, freezing blasts of cold air that reign dominant on mountain-tops. This is the best we got of me trying to hold the sun:
But with a setting sun comes a sunset (obviously) and sunsets are quite often remarkably beautiful. Looking out from Mount Bental, the low, fertile Hula Valley down below, the sunset was just breathtaking. The colours in the sky were to be envied upon! Here is a panoramic I shot of the gorgeous sunset, with photographer Boruch Len on the very far right side of the picture, doing the same thing I was:
And so concludes an amazing day – a day action-packed with history (both ancient and recent), adventure, scenery and natural beauty. But of course, I was still way out in the Golan, nowhere near home. It was another two hours (by car, taxi, bus and feet) until I was home. That was a day I’d love to re-experience!