Israel's Good Name

Horseback Riding in the Golan

In Golan, Israel on June 16, 2021 at 1:40 PM

Following two days in the snowy Golan back in February, our third and final day began with packing up our belongings at our rental tzimmer in Ein Zivan. It was sad leaving such a cool place, but we had exciting plans to wrap up our trip before embarking on the long drive back home. Our first order of business was to go horseback riding at a ranch just outside of Moshav Ramot, overlooking the Sea of Galilee.

Reservoir in the Golan

We made such good time in the morning that we were running early to our booking, and decided to look for something small to do on the way. Whilst driving along Road 888 we saw a sign for Ein Almin, a spring-turned-“officer’s pool” built by the Syrian army for privileged R&R. Naturally, we turned onto the access road to check it out but eventually realised that the going was a bit too rough, even for the rugged Dacia. Alas, we turned around and kept driving, when we spotted another interesting body of water – Matash Tzor’s reservoir. Following great successes at other reservoirs (see Matash Ayalon and Hulda Reservoir), I decided that this easily-accessed location deserves a quick look. It proved to be a good call, as I saw at least two greater spotted eagles, marsh harriers, shovelers, teals and even a small flock of tufted ducks bobbing in the rich blue water.

Bracha sporting a riding helmet

Time ticked away and before we knew it we were back on the road making a beeline to the ranch. Once there, we did all the necessary procedures involving money, helmets and waivers, and then we were introduced to our rides. Neither of us have ever been proper horseback riding, so this was to be an exciting first that we would likely never forget. Being 6’2″, I was given one of the largest horses, a chestnut steed by the name of Kfo (if I understood correctly). Bracha was given an off-white mare with a name that has since been forgotten.

Such fantastic scenery

After receiving our handling instructions, our guides took us and another family that joined us out on our hour-long ride. It began with a simple walk up the paved road, and then merged onto an uphill dirt path. There was something quite exciting about riding the large beast, and even if he did get distracted now and again with delicious grasses, I found him relatively easy to manage. So much so, that I felt comfortable taking plenty of pictures and videos to properly document the adventure (as Bracha held on for dear life).

Entering the plateau

We rode further up the slope, until we reached a bit of a plateau where a gorgeous open area of lush grass dotted with small trees greeted us. The view was breathtaking as we reached the far side of the plateau, overlooking the valley of Nachal Samach and the opposing mountain. As exciting as it was with all the snow, there’s something equally charming about the lush green vistas of the Golan in the winter. Our guide called for our attention just as a few mountain gazelles dashed for cover, nimbly avoiding my camera’s inquisitive lens. Sure enough, more gazelles were to be seen further down the slope, too far to get any decent photos.

Our guide pointing out some fleeing mountain gazelle

On the plateau we allowed our horses to roam around a bit freely. Bracha’s mare seemed to have a mind of her own as she ambled off in search for succulent herbage, and I urged my steed after her. This wasn’t a difficult task as both of our horses just happened to be close friends, and naturally enjoyed each other’s company. This made our experience all the more charming, as our rides took us on a merry walk through the thick grass.

Riding westward

The next part proved to actually be a bit challenging, as our resumed route took a quick turn back down the mountain. This segment was a narrow and delicate descent full of inconvenient rocks that required our horses to navigate carefully. I had to slow my steed down several times as he attempted to just dash his way down, which was borderline frightening considering the fact that I didn’t have any real way of stopping him. Thankfully, these are tame and trained horses, and with a few kind words and gentle lead tugs, we made it down safe and sound.

Riding back down the slope

Once back on level ground, we rode the final leg back to the stable-yard and dismounted our trusty horses. It felt funny walking on our own two legs, similar to disembarking a sea craft, but life returned to its normal self and we wrapped up our visit there. In terms of experiences, this was most definitely one well-worth it, especially considering the breathtaking pastoral Golan scenery. We got back into the car and headed for Qatsrin, where we got lunch – a mouthwateringly tasty pizza from Pizza Margarita.

Bazelet HaGolan Winery

There was just one more place to visit before heading back, and that was the Bazelet HaGolan Winery located in nearby Kidmat Tzvi. Arriving, we began our visit with the visitor centre where we happened to bump into Yechiel Luterman, a long term employee who recently embarked on an exciting new venture producing his very own Edre’i whiskey – which he allowed us to taste! Yechiel and I had taken a MATI business course together back in 2011 and had both shared interest in the idea of brewing beer. I ended up with my Arx Meles hobby-project, and he went the route of wine and then whiskey. With his help, we watched the video about the winery and then tasted a handful of their offerings, a combination of white and red wines. Bazelet HaGolan grows mostly cabernet sauvignon, but they cleverly use the grapes at different levels of ripeness in order to create different tasting wines.

Wines at Bazelet HaGolan Winery

We sampled from their basic cab, as well as their higher-tiered 188 cab. To balance those out, we sipped from some fresh chardonnay as well as a rich 2008 merlot which I found to be quite enjoyable. Between tastings, Yechiel filled our brains with fascinating behind-the-scenes information regarding wine varietals, oak aging and more. Needless to say, it behooved us to buy a bottle as a keepsake of our fun three-day vacation, so we did just that and bid farewell to Yechiel. We got back into the car and headed back home, bringing our exciting trip to a gradual close.

  1. Thanks for all your blog entries. Longing to get back to Israel again!

  2. Love Bracha in her cherubic smile and riding helmet.

    Dave

    Dave Parks

    On Wed, Jun 16, 2021 at 6:40 AM Israel’s Good Name wrote:

    > Israel’s Good Name posted: ” Following two days in the snowy Golan back in > February, our third and final day began with packing up our belongings at > our rental tzimmer in Ein Zivan. It was sad leaving such a cool place, but > we had exciting plans to wrap up our trip before embarking ” >

  3. What a wonderful thing to do. I have ridden most of my life and this looks like a beautiful ride, with good company. “Horses lend us the wings we lack.”

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