Majrase Nature Reserve (also called Beteha Nature Reserve) is in the Bethsaida Valley northeast of the Sea of Galilee. Within the reserve is the meeting point of several Golan streams that merge to form a delta as they drain into the Sea of Galilee. This lush nature reserve is known for its wet hike trails where visitors come in spring and summer to hike through the streams and swim in the natural pools.
In winter visitors can watch the roaring streams splitting into channels and forming small islands; flooding the hike trails, and cascading over waterfalls. In places, the nature reserve resembles an African jungle or European countryside with lagoons, thick vegetation, and abundant birdlife. In the summer the level of the Sea of Galilee drops and open meadows appear where animals graze and wetland birds come to nest.
The Daliyot Stream flows from the Golan mountains to the north-eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. The estuary of the stream is where you can find the Blue Trail, an 800-meter hiking route through the water. From the starting point, the route is a wet hike along the stream, shaded by waterside trees, reeds, and bamboo. On the return trip, you can enjoy a dry hike and see other parts of the reserve.
The Green Trail or Zaki Trail is a more challenging hike route that takes visitors along the riverbed where the Yehudaya Stream estuary merges with the Meshushim Stream. Part of the route is through the shallow stream while other parts open up to deep pools where it is possible to swim.
You can shorten the hike by ducking off at one of eight “escape routes” along the way. The end of the hike brings you to Zaki Lagoon where you need to follow the Black Trail alongside the stream, back to the car park. Thanks to the “escape routes” you can always leave the wet route if the water gets too deep and there are sections where you can no longer walk but need to swim through the water.
The nature reserve encompasses several animal habitats making it home to a wide range of wildlife, insects, marine life, and birds. The main thing that attracts animals to this area is the water. Here they can find food, shelter, and water. The streams are inhabited by fish, snails, crabs, mollusks, and amphibians.
You can even see the occasional turtle on the water’s edge. On land, there are small mammals and reptiles such as lizards, porcupines, otters, and wild boars, plus insects such as the delicate dragonflies that hover above the water. The abundant birdlife includes songbirds, birds of prey, herons, seagulls, ducks, kingfishers, storks, and more.
It is no wonder that this fertile valley attracted people thousands of years before hikers arrived. The abundant water and rich soil made it perfect for agriculture and an attractive place for settlements. Farmers and fishermen settled here as early as the Bronze Age, more than 3,500 years ago. During the Roman and Byzantine periods, and Christ’s lifetime, this area northeast of the Sea of Galilee would have been populated. Throughout the nature reserve, there are ancient dolmens (tombstones) dating back thousands of years.
The whole family can enjoy the natural beauty of the Galilee at the Majrase Nature Reserve whether you visit in winter to admire the racing streams or in the spring and summer to walk the wet hike trails.