Following our stops at the Galil Mountain Winery and Tel Kedesh, my sister and I arrived at the upper parking lot to Manara Cliff – but not after a little look-see at the Hussein Lookout. Named after fallen Israeli lieutenant colonel Hussein Amar, a battalion commander in the Golani Brigade, the lookout over the Hula Valley was established and dedicated in his memory following his death in battle in 1996.
Located on the Naftali Mountains overlooking Kiryat Shmona, Israel’s northernmost city, Manara Cliff offers a great view of the Upper Galilee and Golan area, including Israel’s highest mountain, Mount Hermon. Visiting as we were in the winter, the weather was overcast and the sky looked gloomy. Parking at the upper lot, we entered and found the site pretty deserted – only a few attraction workers and some Yeshiva boys from New York were around. We located the Manara Cliff’s flagship attraction, its cable-car, and waited for it to arrive. The longest cable-car in Israel, at 6,036 feet (1,840 metres – over a mile long!), the ride begins (or ends, depending on where you start) at the top of the 2,460 foot (750 metre) cliff. Since I didn’t get a really great shot of the actual cable-cars, I found one online:
Speaking of cable-car… as far as I know, Israel has just four cable-cars – Rosh HaNikra, Haifa, Masada and Manara Cliff – so that leaves me with just Masada’s to ride now. Despite having ridden the Haifa cable-car up and down the corner of Mount Carmel, where it juts out into the Mediterranean Sea, I haven’t documented it in my beloved blog so here is a photo that I took back in August 2012:
As we waited for the cable-car we took stock of the view, buffeted by the brisk winds. Here is the Hula Valley looking all hazy, far below:
When the cable-car made its way to the top we hopped on – quite literally – and down we went. At first we descended quickly but then it slowed down, the majestic beauty sprawled out the scratched glass windows.
Such a long ride it was that there was even a halfway stop, where attractions such as rapelling are to be enjoyed. We stayed put and kept descending until we hit the bottom, basically in Kiryat Shmona – about a ten minute ride. As we dropped down the last hundred feet or so, we watched screaming Yeshiva boys riding these little railed sleds along the gentle mountain slope.
Disembarking, we headed to the ticket office and got tickets for a go at the “alpine sledding”. Seating ourselves comfortably in the little craft, we began our ride. Up, up, up it went, just like a roller coaster… and then the plunge. We whipped around bends and screamed too as we almost flew off the tracks into the jagged rock walls – or so it seemed. About a minute passed from start to finish but it was a good, exhilarating ride. Here is a shot of a particularly picturesque section of the track, the trees and the Naftali Mountain ridge:
With that checked off we hopped back into the cable-car for the calm ride back to the top. On the way, I noticed something funny, kestrels (small birds of prey related to falcons) perched on the wires, scouring the ground as they rode up and down the cliff, an effortless alternative to hovering in the air searching for prey. At last, we cleared the final ledge of the Manara Cliff and our cable-car slid into the station. We exited and then subsequently exited the park, heading for our next destination – the ruins of Hunin Fortress (or Château Neuf, as the French Crusaders called it).