Hula Valley Nature Reserve
The Hula Valley Nature Reserve is one of the world’s most finest bird-watching sites. The swamp here serves as a resting and refueling space for thousands of migrating birds traversing Asia, Europe and Africa. It's also home to many species which depend on the food and shelter available year round. On your tour of Israel, plan to spend a day appreciating the aquatic birds, exotic water rodents and rare plants and fish of the Hula Valley.
The swamp and lake of Hula once covered 15,000 acres, but soon after the establishment of the State of Israel, most of it was dried up and turned into arable land. At the time, this was common practice, as the Galilee's swamp lands represented obstacles to the development of the fledgling nation. However, a group of visionary scientists insisted on preserving at least part of the lake, and the Hula Valley became Israel’s first nature reserve. Although many of the bird species that lived in the area prior to the drying up of the swamp have disappeared, there are still over 200 species, including cranes, storks, pelicans, cormorants and egrets, which live permanently in the swamp.
As you stroll, bike or travel by cart on the reserve’s trails, you will see rare aquatic plants, such as yellow flag, paper reed and white water lily. Water buffalo graze freely in the reserve, and you can also spot bird species which have become extinct in the wild but have begun to be reintroduced into the region, including the white-tailed eagle. A highlight of the trail hike is the floating bridge, which gives you a great view of the multitude of birds swimming in the lake.
A new visitors' center has recently been added to the Hula Valley experience. Watch a multimedia show on migrating birds, complete with special effects, and take a computerized quiz at the end of the show. Learn about the Hula Valley with dioramas and a model of the area.